By: Phillip Torres
SANTA CLARA-The San Francisco 49ers (7-5) will face Bay Area their Bay Area rival, Oakland Raiders (1-11) on Sunday in Oakland, CA. This is one of San Francisco’s last road games of the regular season, and the first of back to back road games. After the Raiders game, the team will get set to face the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink field on December 14th.
Sunday will mark the heated Bay Area rivalry between two teams that hate each other. The Bay Area rivlas face each other only once every four years. It used to be that they played every year during the preseason, but there were too many fights that occurred during the games, that they no longer see each other during the exhibition season.
O.co Coliseum has promised extra security for the game. There was a lot of speculation when the schedule first came out that the NFL would make this game the Raiders home game in London. That way there would not be that sense of urgency and tense friction between Raider and 49er fans in the same vicinity. Nevertheless, the game will be played in Oakland, where fans of both Bay Area teams will clash on Sunday before they see one another again in 2018.
This game from a fans point of few is all about the bragging rights. The Battle of the Bay is like the Superbowl for Bay Area sport’s fans. The two teams only face each other once every four years, so it is a big deal, no matter what the records are for both teams. The 49ers are looking to make a fourth consecutive trip to the playoffs, and the Raiders just trying to avoid the title, of the worst team in the NFL.
For San Francisco, it is a must win game. In fact every game from here on out is a must win for the 49ers, as they look to keep pace in the tough NFC Conference. There many teams with the same 7-5 record, and many with an even better 8-4 record. One more loss would figure to eliminate the team that has been to the NFC Championship game for the past three seasons.
Meanwhile, for Oakland, they are trying to play the role of spoiler. Coming off of an embarrassing 52-0 loss at the hands of the St. Louis Rams, the Raiders are just trying to avoid a 1-15 finish to the season, with just four games left to play. Rookie quarterback Derek Carr has been one of the few bright spots to the Raiders season as he is looking more and more like the quarterback of the future for the silver and black. Fellow rookie outside linebacker Khalil Mack is also looking like he can be a good pass rusher for years to come.
The good news for Oakland coming into Sunday is that they will be getting runningback Latavius Murray back. The power runningback was cleared on Wednesday for Sunday’s game after sitting out last Sunday’s game with a concussion. Murray was the main reason why Oakland beat the Kansas City Chiefs in week 12. Murray ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns on just four carries.
The red and gold have been carried by their stout defense, which ranks second overall in the league. The 49ers offense is what has been preventing them from being the dominant team that they have been for the past three seasons. San Francisco’s offensive coordinator Greg Roman has been criticized for his play calling and the lack of performance from the offense. It has even got to a point where the daughter of general manager Trent Baalke, tweeted “Greg Roman can take a hike..the 49ers don’t want you no more.”
The 49ers are tied for 25th at 19.3 points per game. That is 6.1 fewer and 14 spots lower than last season. They have been held to under 100 rushing yards in five of the last seven games. Fullback Bruce Miller had this to say about the struggling offense, “It’s a very prideful group here, as a team, as an offense we want to perform better, whatever that takes.”
A key reason as to why the 49ers offense is sputtering is because of the disappearance of All-Pro tightend Vernon Davis. Davis, who is coming off of a season in which he totaled 52 receptions for 850 yards and 13 touchdowns. He is the only tightend in NFL history to record two season with double digit touchdowns. The future Hall of Famer has just 23 receptions for 210 yards and two touchdowns in 2014.
Kickoff for the Battle of the Bay will be at 1:25 p.m.