Injuries are inevitable in this game for any team. Unfortunately, the Raiders' linebacking corps is suffering from it early before the season starts.
"They're both going to be out for a while," Head Coach Jon Gruden said Wednesday. "Looks like Morrow will be out a little bit longer than White, so that's unfortunate, but we'll have to continue to develop our young linebackers and perhaps find another."
In the process of quickly developing their young linebackers, they have two at their disposal to work with in Divine Deablo and Tanner Muse. The duo have a peculiar amount of similarities between them.
Both were born and raised in North Carolina, excelled in the ACC, were third-round picks by the Raiders and have had to shift to the linebacker position. Both are also battling back from injuries sustained since being with the Raiders and are in the process of establishing themselves in the midst of the injury bug hitting their position group.
Gruden believes that the opportunity for the two to step up is an "understatement" to say the least.
"Hopefully they rise to the occasion," he said. "People have done it before in this league and Raiders have done that before, so we'll see what happens."
Muse is coming off a productive game against the Rams in which he stepped in for the injured White. The former Clemson Tiger notched three tackles, a sack shared with Darius Philon and a quarterback hit.
"When I had my number called in the huddle, I was like, 'It's time to go,'" Muse said after the preseason game. "It was good to get my first sack and you saw it out on the field, I was ecstatic.
"I prepare and I get ready so [injuries] when they do happen, I'm already prepared. I'm already ready. I don't see it as since somebody's in front of me, I can take it easy or anything like that. I'm always preparing as a starter and that's just the way it is."
Gruden also commended Muse's ability to come in when needed against the Rams and use his versatility to help the team get the win.
"Tanner went inside and give him credit," said Gruden. "He's playing WILL, he's playing OTTO. He's playing two or three positions and he's a very good special teams player. And he needs to play, he didn't play at all last year and he hasn't really been a linebacker for more than six months. So, this is good for him.
"Hopefully he gets another good experience against a great offensive football team Sunday."
Deablo should also get a lot of reps to play alongside Muse against the 49ers. The newly-converted linebacker hasn't seen any preseason action yet, with him dealing with an injury since minicamp. Deablo returned the practice shortly before the Raiders traveled to Los Angeles and has been eased into action. However, Gruden is expected to take the training wheels off for him to see what the rookie can do in his first game playing at his new position.
"He's got athleticism and range, and he has playing speed. He showed very good instincts at Virginia Tech at a couple different positions, so that combination is exciting," Gruden said. "We think he and Cory [Littleton] will give us two really athletic, young linebackers and we're hoping he can be a fast track. He's going to have learn quickly on the run because they are not postponing any of our games or delaying the startups."
It will be interesting to see how the two linebackers play together in the Raiders' last preseason game before the Monday Night Football showdown with the Baltimore Ravens. While the injuries are a concern for the unit, it seems Muse and Deablo will be given every opportunity to prove they belong in this league.