We’d suspected all along that the Raiders were the worst team in the NFL, but with a modicum of offensive firepower at their disposal, perhaps they were not. Well, tonight we learned that they are in fact the worst team in the NFL, with the worst defense anyone has seen in many years. I’d be hard-pressed to name any Raiders who were winners tonight.
1) Nick Mullens
It’s pretty pathetic when the team you love gets dismantled by a third string quarterback, but Mullens looked vastly better than CJ Beathard ever did and I can’t see the Niners moving on from him and giving Beathard his job back. Mullens was 16-22 for 262 yards and three touchdowns, and was indistinguishable tonight from Andrew Luck during his effort against the Raiders last week. Mullens has a quick release and an accurate arm, and his career is just getting started.
2) George Kittle
The best tight end that almost nobody knows about, Kittle showed off his tremendous skills and toughness tonight. He caught a pass in traffic that he had no business catching and took it over 70 yards against the putrid Raiders defense. He also suffered a nasty hand injury early in the game and went back to the locker room, but came back to play a little while later.
3) 49ers defensive line
San Francisco has three first-rounders on their defensive line in Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner. You’d think they would be one of the top units in the league, but they’re not. Apparently, playing against the Raiders was just what they needed to get on track. The Niners sacked Derek Carr seven times and AJ McCarron once.
4) Cassius Marsh
I am aware that Marsh is on the aforementioned defensive line, but his individual efforts shouldn’t go unnoticed. He had 4 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 2 tackles for loss. The Raiders haven’t had any defender give that kind of effort all year. Neither have the Niners until now.
1) Paul Guenther
This game had the look of a team that was totally unprepared and didn’t buy into the scheme. They didn’t communicate, didn’t give any effort and frankly looked like they would rather be anywhere else. All of that goes back to coaching. If Oakland’s players don’t fit Guenther’s scheme, that’s one thing, but his defensive playcalling was abysmal tonight and has been all season long. He had blitzes called with weak coverage that the Niners exploited again and again, and he has yet to figure out a way to get any pressure from a four-man front. Just awful all around,
2) Raiders offensive line
A lot of these guys are banged up. Kolton Miller has been ailing with a knee injury, Kelechi Osemele has been out for weeks, etc. But to give up eight sacks in one game is totally unacceptable. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Seattle’s line is suddenly good again now that Tom Cable is here, while Oakland’s has suddenly gone into the toilet.
3) Reggie Nelson
Why is it that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie retired, but Reggie Nelson keeps hanging on like a hemorrhoid that won’t go away? Nelson is in no way, shape or form an NFL player anymore and yet Guenther continues to trot him out there like he’d going to do something besides have a lapse in coverage and not be fast enough to catch up to the play.
4) Jon Gruden
Even at their worst last year, the Raiders were not the worst team in the league. In half a season, Jon Gruden has turned them into the new Browns. His assistant coaches are terrible, his playcalling is ineffective, his personnel moves have been atrocious, his press conferences are cringe-inducing. Before the game he told Howie Long that players were “dying” to come play in Oakland. Gruden could offer me $30M right now to be his personal waterboy and I’d have to really think about whether I wanted to put myself and my family through that. His mismanagement of this franchise has sucked all the fun out of watching football.