Watson does in Raiders with late touchdown in 27-24 win

Photo credit: ftw.usatoday.com

By Jeremy Kahn

Deshaun Watson showed the Oakland Raiders why he is already one of the top quarterbacks in the National Football League.

Watson threw for 279 yards, including a nine-yard touchdown pass to Darren Fells late in the fourth quarter, helping the Houston Texans to a come-from-behind 27-24 victory over the Raiders at NRG Stadium.

That game-winning touchdown pass gave the Texans their only lead of the game, and sent the Raiders to their second straight loss.

After the Texans next drive stalled, former Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley, who was traded to the Texans earlier this week knocked down a key third down pass to Tyrell Williams.

It was a nice afternoon for Fells, who ended up with 58 yards receiving and two touchdowns, while DeAndre Hopkins caught 11 passes for 109 yards.

In the loss, Derek Carr threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns, as the Raiders could not secure what would have been a huge win on the road before returning to the friendly confines of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum for the first time since a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on September 15.

Carr gave the Raiders a 21-13 lead in the third quarter, as he found Williams for a 46-yard touchdown pass.

Watson got the Texans within one at 21-20, when he found Fells for a four-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the third quarter.

Daniel Carlson kicked a 44-yard field goal to give the Raiders a 24-20 with a little under 11 minutes remaining in the game.

Unfortunately, the Raiders were unable to hold onto the lead, as Watson found Fells for the eventual game-winning touchdown.

Carr got the Raiders on the board in the first quarter, as he found Watsons former college teammate Hunter Renfrow for a 65-yard touchdown pass.

NOTES: Texans All-Pro defensive lineman J.J. Watt was lost for the season for the Texans, as he tore his pectoral muscle.

Josh Mauro was forced to leave the game in the first quarter with a groin injury and Rodney Hudson left the game in the first half with an ankle injury.

UP NEXT: Finally, the Raiders return to the Coliseum next Sunday when they host the Detroit Lions at 1:05 p.m.

Raiders set to finish extended road trip Sunday in Houston

Photo credit: @Raiders

By Joe Hawkes
SRS Contributor

The Oakland Raiders have finally come to the finish line of their 49-day stretch away from the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum as they prepare for a trip to Houston to take on the 4-3 Texans. This will be the first meeting between the two clubs at NRG Stadium since the 2016 Wild Card game, which the Texans prevailed over the Raiders, 27-14.

The two teams met earlier that season, an international home game in Mexico City for Oakland, in which the Raiders defeated Houston, 27-20, that brought the all-time series to 6-4 in favor of Houston.

Originally slated for a 10:00 a.m. PT start time, the kickoff was flexed to 1:25 p.m. PT by CBS. The Raiders are looking to finish their five-game road trip at 3-2, and win their third-straight road game over the Texans.

Last week, the Raiders (3-3) were hammered by the Green Bay Packers, 42-24 at Lambeau Field in Week 8 following their Bye Week. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers lit up the Raiders defense, throwing for five touchdowns and rushing for another one en route to completing 25-of-31 passes for 429 yards as the Packers defeated the Raiders for the eighth-straight time dating back to 1990.

Green Bay (6-1) has scored 30-plus points in their last five meetings against the Raiders.

Raiders running back Josh Jacobs recorded his second-straight 100-yard rushing game, rushing for 124 yards on 21 carries with 5.9 yards per attempt. With 554 yards rushing through the first six games of his career, Jacobs surpassed Bo Jackson’s mark of 553 yards in 1987 for most in franchise history.

Quarterback Derek Carr completed 22-of-28 passes for 293 yards, two touchdowns, but had two costly turnovers in the red zone for Oakland.

With Oakland trailing 14-10 late in the first half, Carr had Oakland in position to retake the lead. After Carr found tight end Darren Waller on a 48-yard hookup down the middle of the field, the Raiders had first and goal at the Packers’ 3-yard line.

On second down, Carr rushed for the pylon, but Packers linebacker Blake Martinez forced a fumble and the ball went through the back of the end zone for a touchback.

Following Carr’s turnover, Rodgers would connect with wide receiver Jake Kumerow for a 37-yard touchdown that would give Green Bay a 21-10 lead heading into halftime.

With Oakland desperately trying to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter trailing 28-17 following a 7-yard touchdown from Carr to Waller, Packers cornerback Kevin King intercepted Carr with 8:09 left to play in the game that seemingly iced the game for Green Bay.

Following the turnover by Carr, Rodgers would throw register his sixth score of the day, a 74-yard pass to wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who finished with two catches for 133 yards.

Waller recorded his second 100-yard receiving game this season, hauling in seven catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Both scores were Waller’s first for the season.

Waller’s 44 catches are the most for a Raiders player through the first six games, breaking Hall of Famer Tim Brown’s 41. Waller also lead the team with 485 yards.

Defensively, rookie defensive end Maxx Crosby registered a sack for the second-straight week. Crosby recorded a sack against the Bears in Week 5 in London.

The Texans are coming off a 23-20 loss to their AFC South rival, the Indianapolis Colts, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Week 7.

Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is one of the best passers in the league, throwing for 1,952 yards with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions with a 104.1 passer rating. Watson leads the NFL’s ninth-best scoring offense, averaging 26.4 points per game.

Houston wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins will have Oakland’s defense on high alert. Hopkins is currently third in the NFL in catches with 49 to go along with 508 receiving yards and three touchdowns (tied with fellow teammates Will Fuller and tight Darren Fells).

Fuller is second on the team in catches (34) and yards (450).

Defensively for Houston, linebackers Zach Cunningham (53 tackles) and Benardick McKinney (52 tackles) are always around the ball and barely misses tackles.

Fellow linebacker Whitney Mercilus leads the team with 5.5 sacks, while defensive end J.J. Watt is second with 4 sacks.

Following Sunday’s game, the Raiders will return home to begin a three-game stretch where they will face the Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals, respectively.

Houston will travel to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars in Week 9 before heading into their Bye Week.

It’s Just My Opinion: 49ers, Kaepernick need each other

AP file photo:  Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker Cassius Marsh (91) rushes San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) on Sunday, January 1, 2017, at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The Seahawks defeated the 49ers 25-23. Al Golub/CSM (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

SANTA CLARA Calif — With incumbent starter Colin Kaepernick most likely opting out of his contract, along with backups Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, and Thad Lewis (who spent the entire 2016 season on injured reserve) all set to be unrestricted free agents, the San Francisco 49ers could find themselves in murky waters at the most important position once free agency opens up on March 9 at 1:00 p.m. PT.

The NFL Scouting Combine begins next week where the likes of Clemson signal-caller Deshaun Watson and North Carolina’s quarterback Mitch Trubisky will be on display for teams in dire need of a quarterback.

San Francisco (2-14), who own the second overall pick in April’s draft, fall in line with the 1-15 Cleveland Browns who have the first overall pick and are in desperate need of a quarterback, after having a league-high six different quarterbacks take a snap in 2016.

New 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco’s fourth head coach in four years), who oversaw the NFL’s highest scoring offense at 33.8 points per game, doesn’t have a quarterback like Matt Ryan to run his uptempo offense currently on the roster for the 49ers.

Ryan passed for 4,944 yards with 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions while taking home the MVP trophy and being named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year for his spectacular season guiding the Atlanta Falcons to NFC Championship, before losing to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI.

It may be tempting for Shanahan, along with new general manager John Lynch to spend their first round pick on either the aforementioned Watson or Trubisky and let him develop as the 49ers rebuild, but here’s a real idea: Kaepernick should opt-in and remain with the 49ers.

You may ask yourself, why would a natural, gifted athlete like Kaepernick, who started his 10th career game in Super Bowl XLVII (albeit a loss to the Baltimore Ravens), would want to continue a union with an organization that has gone down hill ever since parting ways with Jim Harbaugh in 2015?

It’s quite simple: Kaepernick could resurrect his career under a new regime (while pocketing the $14.5 million he’s owed by opting in for 2017, but gives the team the ability to trade him if the right deal comes along), and the 49ers as an organization, can begin to put the pieces back together with the help of a guy who can unite the locker room.

If you’re Kaepernick, staying with the 49ers gives you the best opportunity to be a starter and San Francisco seems like the more comfortable fit.

I can’t see Kaepernick playing for the Jets, whose head coach in Todd Bowles is entering the 2017 season on the hot seat.

Chicago, who wants to move away from the albatross that is quarterback Jay Cutler, is not an option. The Bears have been rumored to be interested in New England backup Jimmy Garoppolo and hold the third overall pick and could use that pick as trade bait to land the Illinois native.

For what it’s worth, if the Bears do dump Cutler as expected, many NFL insiders and “experts” believe that Cutler would be a fit with the 49ers.

Let me say this, “No.”

Cutler has no business being a starting quarterback in the NFL anymore and should retire, as he’s hinted this offseason.

Scratch off Cleveland and Buffalo from the list of possible landing spots for Kaepernick.

Hue Jackson is enamored with Watson and Trubisky and won’t pass up taking a quarterback this year after trading away Cleveland’s pick (No. 2 overall) last season to Philadelphia that turned into Carson Wentz.

Wentz threw for 3,782 yards and 16 touchdowns during his rookie campaign and looks like the Eagles’ franchise quarterback for the next 10 years.

Buffalo is expected to pick up Tyrod Taylor’s option worth $27.5 million in 2017. Taylor has enjoyed success in two seasons with the Bills, tossing back-to-back seasons with 3,000 yards to go along with 37 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

In 11 starts last season, Kaepernick threw for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns, and four interceptions, but the 49ers were just 1-10 during that stretch.

Kaepernick showed flashes of the quarterback that had defenses on their heels at times, but the 49ers were just an eye sore to watch that had many fans staying away from Levi Stadium in droves and changing the channel quickly.

But with 72 touchdowns and 30 interceptions (4:3 TD/INT ratio), Kaepernick still has the ability to grow into a serviceable quarterback and with the help of Shanahan, who has a history of working well with average quarterbacks like Brian Hoyer (44 TDs/26 INTs) and Robert Griffin III (42 TDs/26 INTs), Kaepernick could be the right man to lead the 49ers at quarterback in 2017.

Kaepernick, Shanahan, and Lynch all met with each other this past Wednesday, Lynch confirmed while appearing on KNBR radio in San Francisco, as first reported by ESPN Staff Writer Nick Wagoner.

Lynch was coy on the nature of the meeting, but mentioned that the group had a “great discussion,” and “Colin left excited, we left excited and I think as Kyle and I really believe, the evaluation is still very much fluid.”

During Lynch’s introductory news conference, Lynch mentioned that he and Kaepernick developed a strong rapport while the former safety was working as a color analyst on FOX.

Shanahan is certain to sign unrestricted free agent quarterback Matt Schaub, whom Shanahan worked with in Atlanta and Houston. Schaub could help Kaepernick learn the deep offensive playbook that Shanahan has developed over the years in the NFL while working for his father, Mike Shanahan.

The older Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the 49ers’ last Super Bowl title after the 1994 season, before leading the Denver Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowls at the end of the 1997 and 1998 seasons.

Quite honestly, Kaepernick should want to opt-in and sign a two-year extension giving him three more years with the 49ers and be the bridge to the real quarterback of the future of the 49ers: USC’s Sam Darnold.

Darnold looked NFL-ready, leading the Trojans to a 52-49 victory over Penn State in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual. The freshman threw for 453 yards and five touchdowns and engineered an 80-yard game-tying drive with less than two minutes remaining.

His 473 total yards broke the Rose Bowl record of 467, which was set by Vince Young during the Texas quarterback’s all-time great performance against USC in 2006.

Darnold is a quarterback that I know Shanahan and Lynch would love to have as the face of the 49ers and build around in the upcoming years.

For now, Kaepernick and the 49ers are better together, rather than apart.