At San Francisco
80 degrees and partly cloudy
Key Coaching Decisions
There weren’t many strategic coaching decisions that impacted the game.
The Raiders have a depleted roster. Starting running back Marshawn Lynch and offensive lineman Donald Penn are out for the season. Wide receiver Amari Cooper was traded away as was linebacker Khalil Mack. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie retired earlier in the week. The Raiders are an old and talent-challenged team, and here they were facing a team in the Niners that has a younger roster full of players that are looking to establish themselves.
It was obvious during the game that the Raiders were going through the motions and devoid of motivation and any hope while the 49ers players were still attempting to make their mark in the league. This was a significant difference in the game.
Key Coaching Decision #1: (SF ball, leading 14-3 / third-and-6, SF 24 / 0:56 Q2)
• On a crucial third down, in their own territory, 49ers QB Nick Mullens hit rookie wide receiver Richie James Jr. on a slant pass for a 53-yard gain and a 49ers first down to extend the drive. The drive ended with Robbie Gould kicking a 39-yard field goal that would give the 49ers a 17-3 halftime lead.
• The Niners had all three timeouts remaining at the end of the half, making it easier for them to move the ball into scoring position. Had the 49ers not converted here, the Raiders would have had the opportunity to cut into the 49ers’ 14-3 lead as they would have likely had the ball back in decent field position and had a timeout remaining.
Key Coaching Decision #2: (SF ball, leading 17-3 / second-and-12, SF 23 / 14:01 Q3)
• On the second play of the second half, Mullens hit tight end and emerging star George Kittle with a short pass over the middle for a 71-yard gain. This drive resulted in Mullens’ third touchdown pass of the game (a 5-yard pass to Kittle) for a 24-3 lead.
• Rather than play conservative, the 49ers took a risk throwing the ball in a tight window in the middle of the field for a first down. The 49ers didn’t just sit on an 14-point lead. They were aggressive when they had their opponent on the ropes. It would have been easy to not be as aggressive. Mullens fumbled on the previous play and it was recovered by running back Matt Breida. That was a bad start for a team that had blown a second-half lead the week before. The team remained aggressive and it worked out in their favor.
• Second-year undrafted free agent Nick Mullens threw for 262 yards and 3 TD passes in his debut. Starter C.J. Beathard was injured versus the Arizona Cardinals the week before and Mullens came in as the Niners’ third starting quarterback of the season. Mullens threw for two of those touchdown passes on the game’s first two drives.
• The Niners hit on big plays throughout the game. They averaged 7.5 yards per play against the Raiders and had three plays of 50 yards or more.
• It wasn’t just the offense that excelled on Thursday night. The defense played its best game and had eight sacks against Oakland.
• The injury bug continued to afflict the Niners as running back Raheem Mostert broke his forearm in the third quarter and will miss the rest of the season.
• The Raiders looked like an ill-prepared team. They lost for the fourth straight time and their record falls to 1-7.
• The Raiders didn’t do anything on offense after the field goal on the opening drive.
• Derek Carr was sacked eight times. But they weren’t all on his offensive line. He ran out of bounds on a sack rather than throwing the ball away. There were other examples in the game where he hung onto the ball far too long and it resulted in sacks. Carr finished with 171 passing yards on 16-of-22 attempts. It will be interesting to see whether Carr finishes out the season as the Raiders starting quarterback. His poor decision-making and play look like it could be an issue going forward this season.
• The only upside of this game for the Raiders is that they appear to be one of the most serious contenders for the number one overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.