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What is on the line when Chargers meet the Niners?

Colin Kaepernick and the Niners host San Diego at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Game three of the NFL preseason is typically the contest where teams maximize playing time for what is likely to be their starting lineup when the regular season begins in September.

When the San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49ers square off today in Northern California (1 p.m. FOX), expect, many of the top tier players to see significant action, perhaps even an entire half. After today's game, expect the Bolts and Niners to rest the majority of their top players in the final week of preseason against the Cardinals and Texans, respectively.

For San Diego (1-1 in preseason), it will look to remove the taste from its mouth of last Friday's blowout loss in Seattle. San Francisco (0-2), meantime, will also search for better fortunes, this after losing by a combined 57-3 in the first two weeks to Baltimore and Denver.

Both teams will also be giving some question marks a good look in the second half, this given that teams must reduce squads down to a total of 75 players on the active list by 1 p.m. Pacific time on Aug. 26. Teams must then get their rosters down to a maximum of 53 players on the active/inactive list by 1 p.m. Pacific time on Aug. 30.

Niners look to get past NFC title game

For San Francisco, the goal this season is to get past defending champ Seattle or whoever stands in its way come January's NFC Championship Game. After reaching the Super Bowl during the 2012 season (lost to Baltimore), the Niners fell short last season when they were beaten by the Seahawks (who went on to hammer Denver in the Super Bowl).

Starting QB Colin Kaepernick received a hefty contract extension in the off-season, but there are still those around the league (including fans) wondering if the University of Nevada product can do the job and get his team to the Super Bowl again.

Kaepernick threw for nearly 3,200 yards and 21 TD's a season ago, but the Niners were not able to get past their NFC West division rivals, a Seahawks team that looks just as formidable in 2014. Once Kaepernick takes the pine today, former Jacksonville starter Blaine Gabbert will get the call.

The Niners will also likely give running back LaMichael James a sizable amount of work as he hits the preseason running, with veteran Frank Gore also preparing for the regular season.

After visiting the Niners today, the Chargers will conclude their preseason slate on Thursday evening when they host the Arizona Cardinals.

San Diego, which opened the exhibition season with a 27-7 home win over Dallas, opens the regular season Monday, Sept. 8 in Glendale against the Cardinals.

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