Raider run defense needs good start

Theoretically, preseason games mean zilch but for the rebuilt Oakland Raiders defense, Saturday's game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park is an opportunity to set an early tempo.

The Oakland Raiders run defense was so bad last season that they could not have stop a watch if they removed the batteries. Oakland ranked last against the run one year after possessing the third-best run defense in the NFL.

"The tone is important but I look more at individuals against the run," Raiders first-year head coach Norv Turner said. "We've worked hard on technique and we want that to show up well on Saturday. Good run defenses tackle well."

Seeing how far the Raiders have come in that area will be more visible Saturday.

"Rob (Ryan) has a lot of great techniques for tackling," Turner said of the Raiders newly hired defensive coordinator.

The Raiders hired Ryan to replace Chuck Bresnahan and his defense could have as many as seven new starters on defense. Headlining that makeover were the acquisitions of defensive tackles Warren Sapp (Tampa Bay) and Ted Washington (New England). Granted, preseason games do not count on the record but if the Raiders rebuilt defense can have a good game against a 49er offense that finished last season as the third-best running offense, that would be a good start. San Francisco's running offense features Kevan Barlow.

"The 49ers have a good running football team," Turner said. "It will be good for our guys because they have a mentality on what they want to do."

Other notes for Saturday

-- Barry Sims and Adam Treu will start the game at left tackle and center respectively but rookies Robert Gallery (left tackle) and Jake Grove (center) will get most of the work. Gallery will get a good test against 49er defensive end Andre Carter, an outstanding speed rusher.

-- Quarterback Rich Gannon, who has played maybe a series or two in previous preseason, could play as much as one quarter Saturday.


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