Sunday will mark the 15th time in NFL history that the 49ers will meet the Raiders, but it will be the first time the 49ers have traveled to Las Vegas. The series enters Sunday with both teams sitting at seven wins against the opposing franchise in what was once a rivalry by proximity. With the 49ers looking to take advantage in rivalry, here are the five players to watch in Las Vegas.
DE Nick Bosa
He’ll need a big performance against the Raiders, but Bosa enters Sunday just five sacks away from tying Michael Strahan for most sacks in a season. Bosa recorded his third multi-sack game of the season against the Commanders marking the 11th time in his career he’s had more than one sack in a game.
The Raiders' offensive line has been solid against the pass rush this season, however, allowing their quarterbacks to be sacked 29 times, tied for seventh-fewest in the league this season. Bosa will need a big game against a tough offensive line to be within reach of Strahan’s record entering Week 18.
RT Mike McGlinchey
Speaking of good edge rushers, the Raiders have their own in Maxx Crosby. What makes Crosby different than Bosa, however, is his snap count (he’s played nearly 300 more snaps) and where he lines up. Crosby has lined up against the right tackle on 941 of his 943 snaps on the defensive line this season. His snap count is so high because he excels in the pass rush and is just as good against the run.
It’s not too often that a tackle can consistently expect to see the same player lined up over him all game, but McGlinchey will see just that in this tough matchup against Crosby.
S Talanoa Hufanga
It’s been a tough last couple of weeks for Hufanga, allowing more touchdowns the last two weeks (3) than he did the previous 13 weeks (2). The Commanders only targeted Hufanga three times in the 49ers' win, but both receptions allowed by the safety went for scores. Hufanga has made a name for himself by being the aggressive safety the 49ers haven’t had in years, which resulted in four interceptions in his first nine games of the season.
However, when the interceptions stopped, the over-aggressiveness Hufanga showed can sometimes be a bad thing. Even though the Raiders have weapons like Davante Adams and Darren Waller, Hufanga could look to force some mistakes against Jarrett Stidham, who’s making his first career start.
QB Brock Purdy
Purdy will have a chance to take advantage of one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL against the Raiders on Sunday. The Raiders' defense is bottom five in the league in turnovers, passing yards, and interceptions as they take on the 49ers' rookie quarterback.
Since making his first start earlier in December against the Buccaneers, Purdy has completed almost 70 percent of his passes with six touchdowns to just one interception, which came last week against the Commanders. After handling a tough Commanders pass rush and defense, Purdy should be able to handle the Raiders' poor pass defense.
CB Charvarius Ward
The tough receiver matchups continue for Ward, who has faced off against the likes of Terry McLaurin, DK Metcalf, and Mike Evans in recent weeks. This week it’ll be Davante Adams, who is just 12 receptions away from his third consecutive 100-reception season. Circumstances will be different for Adams on Sunday, with Stidham getting the start over Adams’ teammate at Fresno State, Derek Carr.
Ward was targeted only once last week against the Commanders, an incomplete pass intended for McLaurin. Ward will likely see a heavier workload on Sunday and will presumably follow Adams as we’ve seen him do in previous weeks.