Sunday, August 19, 2012

Jed York Open to Resuming Preseason Practices with Raiders

The San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders no longer meet in preseason games or scrimmage together in training camp, but there are signs that the cold war may be about to thaw.

San Francisco CEO Jed York said he's open to resuming preseason practices with the Raiders but would leave the decision up to general manager Trent Baalke and coach Jim Harbaugh.

The two teams haven't held training-camp scrimmages since 2009 when the 49ers went to Napa, site of the Raiders' summer training camp, and left unhappy with the results.

But there's a different regime in Oakland now, and York said that if the Raiders were willing to resume scrimmaging together the 49ers might be, too.

"Absolutely," said York. "Anything we can do to give ourselves more competition to get better. I think a lot of teams will scrimmage against somebody else and work with somebody else, and we're fortunate enough to have a team right next door where you can go and get a different experience.

"We can go to Napa. They can come here. We can look at a neutral site. It doesn't have to be a preseason game. We can go to Kezar [stadium, former home of the 49ers, located in Golden Gate Park]. We can go to Youell Field in Oakland [former home of the Raiders] and have an open scrimmage, get a couple thousand fans to come in and see and make it free or do something that raises money for charity -- and not worry about having a preseason game; just scrimmage against somebody else."

That would seem to eliminate the possibility -- at least for now -- of resuming the Oakland-49ers preseason series. The two last played a preseason game in 2011, when two fans were shot outside of Candlestick Park and a third was beaten in a stadium bathroom. Afterward, York recommended the series be suspended indefinitely.

That was only last summer. So it should come as no surprise that when York was asked if practicing together was more likely than resuming the preseason series, he nodded.

"I think it makes sense," he said. "Coach [Jim Harbaugh] is willing to do anything to make our team better, so it's really up to 'Reg' (McKenzie, Oakland's GM) and Trent sitting down and figuring out: Does this work? Is this something we want to do?

"This year with Reg coming in, I don't think we wanted to push anything. Trent obviously is very familiar with being a first-year GM and having a lot of different things come at you. But it's definitely something that Amy [Trask, Oakland's CEO] and I have talked about in the past. If the football operations folks are interested and want to do it, it's easy to put together. We did it in the past when Al [Davis] was there, so I don't know why we couldn't do it in the future."

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