49ers Prevail in OT!

It has been at least eight weeks since we have seen the 49ers really tested.  No one expected the Raiders to be a test today.  The Raiders came into this week having benched their long-time starter, Derek Carr.  This action seemingly divided their locker-room.  Today was Jarrett Stidham’s first ever NFL start.  Aided by best wide receiver in football, Stidham dealt passes against the number one defense in football all afternoon.  One could say that the Niners didn’t have film on him.  Perhaps that is part of it. However, I think this has more to do with the history of the player and his coach.  Stidham followed Coach Josh McDaniels to the Raiders.  He knows his system.  He has spent four years in it as a backup.  Stidham also has good arm talent, confidence and mobility.  He scrambled for 34 yards to add to his 365 yards thru the air.  Lastly, McDaniels is no slouch as a play caller.  He knows what his offense can do.  He knows how to attack the Niners defense.


Raiders Hot Start

The Raiders came out of the gate firing.  They didn’t hide behind Josh Jacobs who has chopped NFL defenses up for over 1500 yards rushing.  The first play of the game was a 20-yard strike to Foster Moreau.  The drive ended with a 24-yard pass to Darren Waller.  The 49ers were now on notice.  The Raiders were not scared or afraid.  They had a wild card spot to fight for and they intended to secure it with a win against the 49ers.


Purdy’s Test

This afternoon’s game was a great test for Brock Purdy.  First, the 49ers started from behind.  They went into half time down 17 to 14.  In the fourth quarter, with less than a minute to go, Purdy was tasked with leading the offense to field goal range to win the game.  Purdy answered the bell at every turn.  Robbie Gould’s misfire tainted Purdy’s late game play.  Still, Purdy put the team in position to win which is all we can ask him to do on a team stacked with talent.

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jauan Jennings (15) is tackled by Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Nate Hobbs (39) during the second half of an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Las Vegas Raiders, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Purdy’s Imperfections

Brock Purdy was far from perfect today.  He connected on 22 of 35 passes for 284 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.  He missed a few throws.  He threw the check down too quickly at times.  Purdy is quick on the trigger.  That is a good thing, but sometimes he is too quick and misses opportunities for bigger gains.  That is not to say that he isn’t afraid to rip the ball down the field.  He hit Juan Jennings on two passes over 20 yards and he attempted to hit George Kittle down the field on a long ball that he was just a tad late on.  Purdy’s timing was not perfect today, but it was good enough to get the win.

Purdy’s Dynamic Teammates

Brandon Aiyuk quietly had one of his best games in his career.  Targeted twelve times, Aiyuk caught nine receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown.  The Raiders could not cover him.  Checkdown McCaffrey caught six of nine targets for 72 yards while rushing for another 121 yards and a touchdown.  Ray Ray McCloud, Juan Jennings and George Kittle all caught passes from the young signal caller.  Finally, six players including McCaffrey rushed the ball.  Jordan Mason ripped off a 14-yard run for a touchdown, showing that he is the future change of pace power back for the 49ers.

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk scores on a touchdown pass during the first half of an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Las Vegas Raiders, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Defense Exposed

The defense needs improvement.  Javon Kinlaw was not much of a factor this afternoon.  He either gets gobbled up by a blocker or he engages the blocker so much he misses an opportunity to make a tackle.  He allows arms to get caught inside the frame of the blocker, losing leverage.  Simply put, he fails to defeat blocks and make plays.  He was the only weak link on the defensive line.

Regardless of the combination ran, the four down lineman provided consistent pressure on Stidham.  Unfortunately, Stidham was elusive and unafraid to cut the ball loose down the field.  He had several big off schedule throws on busted plays.  The 43-yard pass to Davante Adams late in the 4th quarter was off schedule.  He was about to be sacked.  In fact, Stidham took a hard hit from Talanoa Hufanga upon the release of the ball.  Adams made a great play.


Inconsistent Secondary

Deommodore Lenoir must consistently play better.  Sometimes he is brilliant.  Sometimes he busts a coverage.  Thankfully he has a short memory and plays aggressively and unafraid.  The veteran leadership in the secondary will carry the 49ers.  They will give up yards.  However, they have shown that they can tighten things up when they need to.


Defense Wins the Game

Though the defense gave up 34 points, they won the game.  Nick Bosa was unable to get a sack, however he had the play of the game in overtime.  On second down, Stidham took the snap and as he was making his drop, Bosa bull rushed Kolton Miller right into Stidham upon his release of the ball.  The pass was a pop fly brought down by Tashaun Gipson Sr. who ran it back 56 yards to set up the winning field goal in overtime.

This was a great test for the 49ers.  It was playoff football.  The Raiders were playing for their playoff lives.  The 49ers are playing for a better seed.  Next week they have an opportunity to take the number one seed.  They must win next week’s game against Arizona and the Eagles have to lose to the Giants.  As we head into the last game of the season, we hope to get good news on Aaron Banks knee as well as Dre Greenlaw’s back.  Both are greatly impactful to the 49er’s success this season.  On to week seventeen!

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