In the event you're going to Thursday night's San Francisco-San Diego preseason football finale, don't expect to see much if any of the stars. The most you might see of many of them will be wearing baseball caps and not sporting shoulder pads.
Set for 7 p.m. at the 'Q' in San Diego, the last game before the regular season starts (Sept. 8-9) typically means many unheard of guys fighting for their roster lives. With that in mind, oddsmakers have tonight's game as a pick'em.
Coming off of a 24-7 win over Arizona in the desert last Saturday night, the Chargers look to package a little momentum as they head into their season opener Monday, Sept. 9 at home versus Houston. Meantime, the 49ers enter tonight's tilt off of a 34-14 home win last Sunday evening versus Minnesota. Playing their final season at revered Candlestick Park, the Niners open the season a week from Sunday against Green Bay.
As for tonight's contest, look for a number of the younger players, plus a few veterans fighting to keep jobs, to put it all on the line. While the starting lineups are pretty well set for both clubs going into September, there are some spots still up for grabs.
Come this Saturday, both squads are required to trim their rosters to reach the 53-man requirement, so a number of players in tonight's game will either be playing for other teams come next month or sitting out football on the sidelines.
For the Bolts, expect backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst to get a sizable amount of playing time, with starter Philip Rivers expected to don a baseball cap and watch from the sidelines. Third-stringer Brad Sorensen will also likely test the San Francisco defense. As most Charger fans will admit to, much of how this season goes rides on the ability of the offensive line to keep Rivers healthy (sacked 49 times a season ago to lead the NFL) and open up holes for the running backs, including under-achieving Ryan Mathews.
Defensively, the Chargers will continue to focus in on their secondary, especially given the fact there are several new starting faces in the crowd this season to go with Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle.
Overall, the Bolts could use tonight's game as a test to see just who will be able to step up in crunch time this season should one or more starters go down with injuries.
One key area of focus in the preseason for San Diego has been the wide receiver position, especially given injuries to Danario Alexander (out for season with ACL injury) and veteran Malcom Floyd (expected to play next month).
While the Chargers expect to have Floyd back sooner rather than later, many eyes will be on Robert Meachem and rookie Keenan Allen to step up. Meachem's name has been mentioned as someone who could end up elsewhere if he doesn't finish up the preseason strongly.
After tonight's game, it all counts in the record books for both teams.
So, what's your prediction on how the 2013 San Diego Chargers will end up when all is said and done?