Here we go again. This team is still far from being a cohesive unit. Their play on the field bears little resemblance to the Raider team that swept the AFC West last season. The stars still play like stars but the players around them don’t seem to be picking up the slack. The result is confusion and chaos and an ugly loss to their Bay Area rivals.
This was one of those games where neither the offense nor the defense can string together enough solid plays to make it worthwhile. Often times the offense would put together a few good plays and then screw it all up, while the defense, for the most part, let the 49ers march down the field and get a break in the end. But those breaks were bound to stop coming as they eventually did.
Bearing that in mind, this was a difficult game to weed out those who held their own while the house fell down around them. But that is what B&B is all about, so I take the challenge head on.
Top Baller for the second week in a row, Shaughnessy continues to be the Raiders’ primary playmaker. He is a vicious pass rusher and a stout run defender. The Raiders are trying to get their second and third teamers sorted out so the first team defense only played two series. Shaughnessy made several crucial plays in that short time.
He got things started off with a run stuff for a short gain on the first play of the game. Then on third down, with the 49ers knocking on the door at the two yard line looking to score, Shaughnessy bulled into the backfield to slow the runner and allow a tackle for a loss. The ensuing field goal attempt was bobbled by the holder and he threw an interception to hold the Niners without a score.
On the 49ers’ next possession, they drove down the field again. They were nearing field goal range when, on 3rd and 8, Shaughnessy went into a zone drop and picked it off Alex Smith to hold the Niners without a score again. Stopping two scores on his only two series is worthy of top Baller.
Brown played nearly the entire game in one capacity or another. He got some work with the first team defense where he made two nice tackles on the 49ers’ first drive. The first tackle, he shot in from the safety spot to assist in a run stuff. Then, with the 49ers on the Raiders’ two yard line, he came up big again. After Shaughnessy had slowed the runner in the backfield, Brown tackled him for a loss and ended their chance of getting into the endzone. The 49ers then opted to attempt a field goal but when Andy Lee bobbled the hold, Brown chased him down and pressured him into throwing an interception. That is three big plays for Brown after just a handful of plays in the game. He finished the day tied for the team lead with five combined tackles.
Samson Satele, Stefen Wisniewski
While the same can’t be said for the other positions along the offensive line, the job at center in this game was superb. There were no bobbled snaps, and neither player gave up any sacks or tackles for loss. In addition, they had some good run blocking and screen blocks. As an offensive lineman, especially the center, the best you can hope for is never to hear your name. The only time anyone noticed either of them was when Wisniewski helped with a perfectly executed screen pass. He was well ahead of Rock Cartwright, and the 49er defenders stayed away from him so he was unable to lay the wood on anyone, but he didn’t need to. The screen went for 15 yards — the longest of the day.
At this point, it is probably getting tiresome hearing about this guy. He makes plays in practice and he makes plays in games. With the way he is performing, it will be impossible to keep him off the field this season. Due to the rash of injuries, he was a starter in this game. On the Raiders’ first sustained drive, Moore had two straight catches to get things started off, a 16 yarder and an 11 yarder. When he was done for the day as a receiver, he had a 48 yard kick return. He caught the ball, started left just enough to get the gunner and coverage team thinking that way, then he broke right and flew up the sideline. His blockers knew where he was going to go but if he hadn’t sold it left first, it never would have worked.
The line didn’t offer him a lot of gaping holes but he made the most of what he got and even made something out of nothing a couple of times. He only had 26 yards rushing but he averaged 4.3 yards per carry. His longest run of the day went for nine yards and it should have been a loss. But after Bush found no gaps on the line, he spun out around left tackle and shot upfield into San Francisco territory for a first down. This play came immediately after he had a six yard screen play and two plays later he had a nine yard catch. That drive would go as far as the 49er 12 yard line.
Like Bush before him, Rock didn’t make a lot of noise as a runner. He did most of his work as a receiver and on special teams. He teamed up with Jerome Boyd for the first tackle of the day on the opening kick return. Cartwright had most of his offense on the Raiders’ only scoring drive. On the first play of the drive he had 7 yards on a screen play. Next play he picked up the remaining yards needed for a first down. A few plays later he had 15 yards on a screen play. The Raiders could only manage three more yards after that but it was enough to put Janikowski in range to kick a 46 yard field goal.
Hagan is one of the newer Raiders as he was signed in the middle of camp. He came in as the most experienced receiver on the team, so it is not really a surprise that he plays like it. It may actually be more surprising no one else grabbed him earlier. He led the Raiders with three catches in this game. He came in on the Raiders’ final drive of the first half and soon had a 10 yard first down catch. Trent Edwards and Hue Jackson wanted to go to him so badly that Edwards stared him down and threw into coverage and was intercepted to end the first half. Then on the first play of the second half, Boller went right back to Hagan, hooking up for an 8 yard completion. Later in the third, Boller connected with Hagan again for a 14 yard catch. Hagan also did some work on special teams as one of the primary blockers to free up Denarius Moore on his 48 yard kick return. If he isn’t careful, he is going to fool around and make this team.
Heyward-Bey led the Raiders in receiving with two catches for 40 yards. One of those catches was a nicely placed back shoulder catch from Campbell that went for 22 yards and put the Raiders at the two yard line. The other was an 18 yard catch. Those two grabs might have been enough to earn him Baller status. But they both came after he screwed up and ended the Raiders’ first drive of the day — he ran a go route when he was supposed to be running a comebacker. Campbell put the ball where DHB was supposed to be and he wasn’t there. The Raiders needed six yards and that play would have been enough to get it. He got chewed out by Hue Jackson after that. Heyward-Bey is the longest tenured of the healthy receivers on this team right now. He shouldn’t be making drive ending mistakes like that. But for leading the Raiders in receiving yards, he deserves an honorable mention.
Blackstock was a team leader as well. He tied for the team lead in solo tackles (5). The reason he couldn’t quite make the Baller list is because all but one of those tackles came after the opposing player had already gained five yards or more. Granted, some of this responsibility does go to the defensive line and his fellow linebackers. But the Raiders are looking for a solid weak side linebacker and making tackles five yards downfield is not it. Those are the tackles safeties get pats on the back for; linebackers get credit for plugging holes. But for saving the Raiders from some even bigger runs and picking up the slack for his teammates, he gets an honorable mention from me.
Last week Barnes made the Buster list because he had four false start penalties including three on one drive. This week he makes it for simply playing terribly. He almost single handedly ruined the Raiders’ first drive of the day. Bush was stopped on the Raiders’ first two plays by Barnes’ man. On the second play, Barnes was thrown into the backfield like a rag doll and Bush was stuffed at the line. Then the Raiders lined up for the next play and both Joseph Barksdale and Barnes were in the game at right tackle. The Raiders were forced to take a time out and Hue called Barnes over to lecture him and sent him to the sideline. The drive would end with a three and out for an auspicious beginning to an ugly day.
Barksdale would stay in for Barnes for a few plays but with the Raiders on the two yard line looking to score, Barnes was mysteriously put back in the game. On third and goal at the one yard line, he was demolished again and gave up a tackle for a loss. The Raiders were unable to convert on fourth and goal. On the next Raider drive, Barnes was back in the game at right tackle. And on the first play of the drive, he gave up a hit on Campbell just after he released the ball. That was enough.
Bruce Davis, Jr
The Raider legacy player they signed off the 49ers’ practice squad last season came back to visit his former team and reminded them of why he never made their roster. He was the linebacker who was supposed to plug the hole that allowed Kendall Hunter to take the ball 53 yards for a touchdown. He was blocked easily on several other significant runs throughout the game.
None of the Raider passers played well in this game, which I suppose should tell you something if Boller was the worst of the bunch. He was 6 of 11 for just 56 yards and an interception. He came in as the third quarterback and played the entire second half. In that half, he had one good throw, for 14 yards to Derek Hagan late in the third quarter. Then Boller ended that drive with a screen attempt that was well covered, resulting in his interception. The next drive he had a scramble for no gain and a wide throw that missed his receiver. The game ended on a three and out when he threw wide and incomplete on a flat pass and then held the ball too long in the pocket resulting in a sack. That isn’t going to get it done.
This was a statement game for Boyd, and the statement he made was not a very positive one. He came in the game first at weak side linebacker. There he gave up a 12 yard catch on third down and missed a tackle on a 12 yard run. After that the Raiders moved him to safety with the second team. There he gave up a 15 yard catch on the 49ers’ first scoring drive. On the 49ers’ first play of the second half, he gave up an 11 yard catch. They would score on the big 53 yard touchdown run on the next play. He was replaced the rest of the way by the two newcomers at safety, who had plenty of problems of their own.
On the Raiders’ second drive of the day, they were on the two yard line looking to score, but were forced to go for it on fourth down when Veldheer gave up a sack on Campbell to end their hopes. On the Raiders’ next drive, Campbell was flushed from the pocket where he was met by Veldheer’s man and sacked again. Campbell was also hurt on the play and had to leave the game. Giving up two sacks in two drives is not good.
Cumbie was playing in the place of John Henderson who is out with a minor injury. The difference was noticeable to say the least. The 53 yard touchdown run was the first case in point. It was Cumbie’s position that Kendall Hunter ran through without breaking stride. A linebacker should have been there to fill the hole, but it was Cumbie who was completely manhandled to create the gap to begin with. He had a missed tackle and was handled on the block on at least two other runs through the remainder of the game.
I have not seen either in practice or in a game why Hill is even on an NFL training camp roster. He is sluggish, doesn’t maintain his position, and most of the time can’t stay on his feet. He came in for the last few minutes of the game and was handled on the three run blocks including getting pancake blocked on the second to last play of the game.