It may no longer be the “Battle of the Bay,” but there’s still some extra rivalry juice now that the Niners are suiting up to face the Raiders for the first time since they uprooted and relocated to Las Vegas.
Currently, the all-time record between the two teams sits at 7-7, meaning the Week 17 matchup will serve as a tiebreaker, as well as a chance for the Niners to continue their winning streak and, given some help from the Packers, improve their playoff standing.
In a surprising (hopefully helpful) turn of events, Josh McDaniels has decided to bench Derek Carr, his veteran starting quarterback, to preserve his health and maintain any potential trade value going into this offseason. That means the vaunted San Francisco defense will take on Jarrett Stidham in what will be his first career start. Some might say that’s a little like a baptism by fire, but only time will tell.
To get all the insights we need to prepare for a New Year’s Day game in a city known for its festivities, I reached out to Matt Holder at Silver and Black Pride to fill us in on everything.
1. Let’s start with the elephant in the room. How do you feel about the Raiders’ decision to bench Derek Carr for the final two games of the season? Does this spell the end of the Carr era in Silver and Black? If so, where did it all go wrong?
All signs are pointing toward this is it for Derek Carr and the Raiders, and him staying away from the team for the next two weeks is pretty telling. I liken the situation to a divorce where it needed to happen, and there probably wasn’t a good way for this split to go down, but it sucks that Carr is going out like this. On the other hand, despite the disappointing overall record, he did bring the Raiders from the basement of the NFL to a respectable team, all while dealing with a ton of crap and still being a class act.
At the end of the day, he just didn’t win enough, and there was a regression in his play toward the end of the season every year, which all kind of came to a head in Pittsburgh last week. Carr was missing throws all game, especially in the second half when the Raiders had about 30 yards of offense, and pretty much ended any playoff hopes with a game-sealing interception. And the offense stalling out to close games has been a recurring theme this season.
2. This has been Josh McDaniels' first season as the head coach in Las Vegas. With two games left to play, how would rate his abilities? Do you trust him moving forward as a long-term answer at one of the toughest jobs in the world?
Personally, no, I don’t trust him. I feel like Carr is being made the scapegoat, and McDaniels should be on the hook too. The Raiders have made so many mistakes that are related to coaching, whether it’s play calling or players having coverage breaks late in the year; it’s been clear they are far from a well-coached team. Plus, all the blown leads fall on the head coach’s shoulders, and McDaniels has a pretty bad track record as the man in charge.
3. The Raiders gave up a first and second-rounder in 2022 for the services of Davante Adams. Hindsight being 20/20, would you rather have had those selections back or four more years of Adams under contract?
Well, that answer is a little complicated now that Adams’ really good friend and the reason he joined the team is likely on the way out. If he wants to follow suit, then the trade is definitely a bust, but I think if he wants to stay around, then the trade was still worth it. The top three players at their position don’t come around often, and Adams has been one of the few bright spots for Las Vegas’ offense this season.
4. Maxx Crosby has once again been an incredibly effective pass rusher. Unfortunately, his running mate Chandler Jones will be out this Sunday. Is there anyone else on the defense that Brock Purdy and company should be aware of coming into Sunday’s game?
Not really, to be honest. Jones had caught fire recently but was quiet for most of the year and, as you pointed out, is done for the year. Defensive tackle Bilal Nichols has shown up in spurts, but he’s cooled down too. Then there’s Clelin Ferrel, who’s just playing out what will likely be his last few games as a Raider after being the no. 4 overall pick in 2019.
The guy I’m looking forward to watching in Jones’ absence is Malcolm Koonce. He probably won’t start, but he’s been a good pass-rusher in the preseason and just hasn’t gotten an opportunity to play much in the regular season after being a third-round pick last year.
5. After the announcement that Carr would be benched in favor of Jared Stidham, the DraftKings Sportsbook line ballooned up to 49ers -9. Do you feel like that’s an accurate representation of the Raiders’ chances? Do you see a world in which they cover or possibly win straight up? What’s your final score prediction?
I would be pretty surprised if the Raiders cover with Stidham. I’m honestly not expecting much, and the only way I think this game stays close is if the 49ers come out a little sluggish since the game might not mean much in the big picture if the Eagles and Vikings win. I’ll say San Francisco 27-10.