Greetings, Raider fans! It is I, the host with the most, the excellence of execution, and Cam Newton's mom's favorite Internet personality, Raiderdamus, back again with another titillating and enlightening message from beyond. Last week, the Great Beyond predicated yet another Raiders loss, and he was correct, although some of you were blinded by the Chiefs victory and doubted the great old one's wisdom. You can be forgiven for your folly, as you are a bald-faced bunch of homers. That is to be expected of any group that has suffered for so long.
Full disclosure, Raiderdamus was raised as a dual Raiders and 49ers fan by parents who rooted for both teams. Therefore, I have a soft spot for the Niners and enjoy watching them succeed unless they are playing Oakland. You may feel differently; Raiders fandom is generally one that brooks intrusion lightly. Win, lose or tie, Raiders til we die, right?
I have as always entreated the Great Beyond for another message, and as his oracle it is my duty to report the following:
"You again? You come to me after last week's 52-0 shellacking and ask my opinion? Are you sure you want it? Well, here goes. The 49ers, much like the Raiders, are still one of the NFL's glamour franchises. It was not too long ago that San Francisco, like Oakland, was deemed a horrible team to play for and a toxic environment. Eddie DeBartolo (now there's a Cosa Nostra name if I ever saw one) clearly attended the Al Davis School of How to Screw Up a Salary Cap, leaving the team in cap hell following his departure from the team's ownership group whereupon he was arrested for some gangster crime like corruption, extortion, tax evasion or racketeering or other things Italian people do. DeBartolo, as is the case with most white-collar criminals, did not spend a single day in Federal Pound Me In The Ass Prison but paid a $1 million fine in exchange for rolling over on a corrupt Louisiana politician who had been very naughty indeed.
So Fast Eddie gave up control of the Niners in 2000 to his sister Denise York and her husband Jed, who still run the team to this day. Unlike Al Davis, DeBartolo's win-now-at-all-costs approach to the salary cap had actually won the team the Super Bowl after the 1994 season, and the Niners were in really rough shape. They struggled through several awful seasons, eventually getting the #1 overall pick in 2005. They could have taken Aaron Rodgers. They selected Alex Smith. He was terrible at first, then injured, then good. While being injured he was replaced by J.T. O'Sullivan and then Shaun Hill, who you all saw last week. Smith took the Niners back over in the 2010 season and had a lot of success the following year when the Niners fired noted bare-asser Mike Singletary and replaced him with Jim Harbaugh.
Smith actually won a playoff game that year against the Saints, and then the following draft was highlighted by the Niners drafting his replacement, Colin Kaepernick. Smith held the starting job until he got hurt, and then Kaepernick took over and took the team to the playoffs again. He was senational, but has been on a fairly steady decline since then. The Niners should probably start looking for his replacement sooner than later. His chief skill is running the ball, but he is too valuable to be allowed to run the ball and take constant shots from linebackers so they have him sit in the pocket and throw. He completed less than 50% of his passes against Seattle on Thanksgiving and they are really not playing to his strengths.
Without a healthy offensive line, the Niners cannot do what they are good at, which is running the football. Neither Joe Staley nor Anthony Davis participated in Thursday's practice. They are forced to be a vertical passing team, which is not what they really are. At Nevada, Kaepernick ran the pistol offense, which is a version of the spread where the offense runs a LOT. In that offense, Kaepernick was one of the most effective quarterbacks in NCAA history. In this offense, he is asked to be Aaron Rodgers. If the Niners wanted Rodgers, they damn well should have taken him back in 2005. Now we have to watch him win the Brett Favre Memorial Lucky Bastard Award every year in Green Bay.
The Niners' defense is also a shell of its former self, having lost Glenn Dorsey, Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman with injuries. LB Chris Borland has been a revelation this season, but they are still not the same team we saw in 2011 beating the Saints into submission in the first round of the playoffs. Their secondary is not as good, their linebackers are not as good, and their line is not as good. Teams didn't used to be able to run on the Niners. Now you can, and you can pass on them too. There aren't any ballhawks back there outside of Eric Reid. Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson, two guys who clearly idolized Jack Tatum and would as just soon get a personal foul for targeting as look at you, are long gone. This group isn't as bloodthirsty as they used to be. They're softer, they're older.
Despite their cap situation, the Niners have had a series of really great drafts in recent years. They got the following players from 2005-2011: Aldon Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Chris Culliver, Anthony Davis, Navorro Bowman, Mike Iupati, Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan, Patrick Willis, Joe Staley, Frank Gore, Dashon Goldson, Tarell Brown, Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker. That's a pretty decent core along with the free agents they signed, which included Justin Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Carlos Rogers, and Whitner.
The Raiders right now are about where the Niners were in 2006. They drafted a QB who has the potential to be very good but the coaching and surrounding talent isn't permitting him to find a groove and he can't yet put the team on his back. It's pretty much agreed that the Raiders' last draft was a thing of beauty, and a few more like that along with some shrewd free agent signings could turn the Raiders into what the Niners were in 2012. It will take some time. Just ask your friends across the Bay.
As for this game, while the Niners aren't very good, they still are good enough to win this one. Niners win, 30-20.