Zane Beadles faced his former team on Saturday night in a meaningless preseason football game. So did several other players, a rite of passage when each NFL season starts anew. These moments tend to have meaning for the players going through them, but not anybody else. A coach can draw attention to the moment for a national audience, though. That's what San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan did when his team faced the Denver Broncos on Saturday night.

The San Francisco captains for the night

Beadles was one of four captains for the preseason tilt on Saturday. The other three were linebacker Elvis Dumervil, running back Kapri Bibbs, and linebacker Dekoda Watson.

They all play for the 49ers now, but in the past, they have all played for the Broncos, meaning they had an opportunity to shake some familiar hands before the coin toss at the start of the game.

As juvenile as it may seem, this is a tactic employed across the NFL every season. It can provide motivation for the players who feel slighted by being unwanted by their former team. It could also create a more emotional environment for opponents to weave through, especially if they don't feel excited to tackle their former teammates. The only issue with employing the strategy now is that nobody really needs to get up for preseason games. The Broncos and 49ers were destined to play the same soporific game as before, even with Beadles and Dumervil in the captain's circle.

Beadles looking to retain role

While he may have been facing his former Broncos teammates on Saturday, all Beadles should really care about is his job with the 49ers.

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He signed a three-year deal with the team before the 2016 season and served as a starter. Before Joshua Garnett suffered a knee injury, however, it seemed almost certain that he was going to be given a backup role this season, something he is entirely unfamiliar with.

Nobody wishes injury on another, but it has given Beadles an opportunity to show he deserves to start the season as he competes for minutes at guard with Brandon Fusco. He has started well over 100 games during his career, making the Pro Bowl in 2012 with the Denver Broncos. He's 30 years old, but the game clearly hasn't passed him by just yet. The 49ers are going to be bad this season, but they can still use some veteran talent to guide the young players on the path of development and respectability; that's a role Beadles could fulfill.