The San Francisco 49ers do not yet know who their quarterback will be on Thursday when they host the Oakland Raiders. Well, they are not publicly acknowledging who will it be, other than to say it will be a game-time decision with C.J. Beathard.
Regardless of who is playing quarterback, one big issue will be the Raiders pass rush — or should I say, lack thereof. The 49ers offensive line has struggled in pass protection, but the Raiders pass rush has been the worst in the NFL. Here are some notable stats regarding the Raiders struggles getting to the quarterback.
By comparison, the 49ers rank 26th in adjusted sack rate, and 25th in Pro Football Focus’ pass blocking efficiency stat.
Something has to give in this matchup, and it could be a difference-maker for the 49ers. When there has been no pressure this season, Beathard has completed 66.1 percent of his passes, and PFF grades him out at 80.7. When he has been under pressure, he completes 44.4 percent of his passes, grades out at 43.3 on PFF’s grading system, and ranks 33rd in passer rating.
Nick Mullens has yet to appear in the regular season, but did get 47 dropbacks during the preseason. He completed 78.6 percent of his passes (22 of 28) when not under pressure, and graded out at 90.1. When pressured, he completed 60 percent of his passes (9 of 15), and graded out at 42.9.
If the 49ers are going to handle their business and win this game, it will be critical Beathard or Mullens has time to operate in the pocket. Of course, it will also be incumbent on the quarterback to make quick decisions to keep things moving. The 49ers offensive line has been hit or miss in pass protection, but this game provides the unit an opportunity to head into the second half of the season with at least a modicum of moment.