It used to be an almost annual ritual for theand to play in the preseason. Alternating between San Fran and Oakland, both fanbases looked forward to the battle between the NFC and AFC based teams getting some good old fashioned grudge match action going nice and early in preseason. That all ended two seasons ago with several violent incidents between fans at Candlestick Park proved that maybe the preseason rivalry got a little bit too far from what was intended as a friendly preseason rivalry.
Since then, the NFL has suspended preseason games between the two Bay Area rivals, ending what was something both fanbases always looked forward to each August. Still with sons of the former owners of both teams now at the helm, discussions have began about bringing some sort of the tradition back by way of a scrimmage.
“We are talking to the Raiders now about potentially doing some things in training camp,” 49ers CEO Jed York revealed on Bay Area radio station 95.7 The Game. “And hopefully, obviously you have two teams that are right here, right next to each other, I think both teams can get a lot of benefits from doing things together, during training camp. There are a lot of things that we can do together and I think we will do together just because of proximity.”
“Just scrimmage together. It’s nice to hit somebody that’s not wearing your own uniform, and it’s nice to get more work from your first team going against somebody else’s first team and the twos and the threes and something like that and being able to do more work with your guys and being able to do split squads instead of having your guys go against your guys. I think you can get more out of doing something with another team.”
That proximity makes the move make sense, but the Bay Area Rivalry has shown that it can get ugly at times, and the NFL clearly has been attempting to promote a fan friendly product since forever and if they can prevent the Raiders Nation and Niners fans from drunkenly punching each other in the face in the parking lot they are going to do it, making this a hard sell for the league to approve.
The idea of the Raiders and 49ers scrimmaging is not new. They scrimmaged in camp back in 2010 under then head coach, Tom Cable. The difference here is the discussion now is involving the idea that this event be open to the public and placed in one of each team’s former fields, attempting to circumvent the NFL’s ban on the two teams giving their fans a treat in the preseason.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to get them done, but if we’re not playing a preseason game because the NFL didn’t schedule us to play a game, there’s nothing that says we can’t do a scrimmage with each other and go to Kezar where the 49ers originally started playing in the Bay Area, go to (Frank) Youell Field and do something there, do something that’s more fan oriented that you can do together where you can still be part of the community. Your football aspects, which is obviously first and foremost for both organizations, that comes first and you want to make sure your players are taken care of, your players are safe, your players are healthy, they get a lot of work and they get something out of going against each other.”
York presented the idea last year and the Raiders have been looking for a training camp scrimmage, opening up talks with the New Orleans Saints as new head coach Dennis Allen and Sean Payton have a good relationship due to Allen’s time there, but that has yet to pan out and the location of the 49ers and Raiders makes much more sense logistically.
Yet the brewing animosity between the Raiders and 49ers that cancelled the preseason series in the first place is what makes this something that will have to be worked out instead of an automatic no brainer. It would be nice to see the two teams get something together for the community during training camp, but it will be a work in progress and something that we will likely see develop in the coming weeks as the countdown to training camp continues for both teams in the Bay Area.
Hopefully we will be able to see the two teams take the field at either Youell Field or Kezar and do something special, but for now even the talk of the Niners and Raiders coming together in the preseason is promising as we all are still missing the tradition of the two rivals doing some sort of preseason battle.