Hearing about Jarrett Stidham carving up the San Francisco 49ers top-ranked defense would’ve been considered a phantasmic work of fiction. After all, how could a rarely-used backup quarterback step into the starting spot and survive against the league’s best defense?
But that’s exactly what the Las Vegas Raiders new starting quarterback did on Sunday afternoon. Stidham breathed life into moribund Silver & Black offense showing poise and dropping dimes as he racked up 365 passing yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, as well as 34 yards scrambling. The end result was a familiar one, however, for the Raiders — a 37-34 defeat in overtime that saw Stidham throw the deciding interception (more on that below).
The Raiders dropped to 6-10 proving 2022 is an abject failure, yet, it’s hard to ignore the energy the Raiders offense had around Stidham as the group was dialed in against a superior 49ers defense.
“He had a solid performance, I think, for his first start,” McDaniels said of Stidham. “I’m sure he’d be the first one to tell you the turnovers you want back. There was definitely obviously some other things involved in those turnovers. But I thought leading our team, his energy, his communication, I thought we had good rhythm. And obviously you can tell the guys really played well for him and played hard for him, as they should.
“And so, it didn’t surprise me that he was ready to go and played the way that he played. That is a great, great group over there, and Jarrett and the guys made some plays today.”
From the onset of Sunday’s clash in Allegiant Stadium, a difference in the Stidham-led Raiders offense and the Derek Carr-led version was apparent. From the play-action bootleg calls — which manipulated both the pocket and San Francisco’s defense — to the just how New England Patriots-like Las Vegas offense was — it was on clear display. So much so the Raiders held a 17-14 advantage heading into halftime.
But to hear McDaniels tell it, there was no drastic pivot or seismic shift in his play calling from Carr to Stidham.
“Not really. I thought he did a good job of — he signaled some stuff today and created some opportunities for himself, which is great to see,” McDaniels said of Stidham. “But Derek had the same — whoever plays quarterback for us is going to have the same opportunity. If they learn the system and understand how to use it, they had the same opportunities. We didn’t really call the game radically different today than we would have otherwise. And I thought Jarrett took advantage of the opportunities that were presented to him.”
Eventually, however, DeMeco Ryans’ 49ers defense would take advantage of the Raiders — namely Las Vegas offensive line, that didn’t surrender a sack, oddly enough. Stidham’s first interception was a result of a deflection at the line of scrimmage and the final, the game-decider, was Nick Bosa pushing Raiders left tackle Kolton Miller right into Stidham’s lap. That caused the ball to flutter and get snared by Tashaun Gipson Sr. for a 56-yard return that set up the game-winning field goal in overtime.
“The ball is in my hands every play. I’m the only one that gets to touch it every play and unfortunately there was two interceptions in the game and probably some things that I definitely could have done better to win,” Stidham said. “So, obviously we’re going to look at the look at the film tomorrow morning and see what I could have done better. Definitely feel like I left some football out there on the field today.”
Let’s hit the quick slants as fast and hot the Raiders offense started against the 49ers:
—Complementary football continues to elude the Silver & Black. The defense continues to be near non-existent at times and to where 49ers defenders always keep their eyes on the ball and attempt to make plays on them, Raiders defenders seemingly do the opposite.
—Allegiant Stadium was dominated by 49ers fans and it looked like a 75 to 80 percent tilt in favor of the Gold. However, you’d be hard pressed to figure that was the case when the Raiders made their mad dash at the end of regulation and in overtime. The roar for the Silver & Black was just as loud.
—Like Bill Williamson noted yesterday, pump the brakes as bit on Davante Adams looking to depart now that Carr isn’t the quarterback. Stidham hooked up with the elite wide receiver often and Adams is rewriting franchise record books with his seven-catch, 159-yard, two-touchdown performance.
—In fact, I don’t honestly know if we see that Adams’ 60-yard touchdown if Carr is still signal caller. That was an off-script play that resulted from Stidham moving around and scrambling out of the pocket to keep the play alive and finding Adams right before he got lit up with a massive hit.
—Raiders cornerbacks Amik Robertson and Tyler Hall are making the case they should be in the mix for playing time in 2023. Robertson came up with a timely interception while Hall continues to show his coverage and tackling skills.