It took 59 years, but the Raiders might have finally hit rock bottom as a franchise.
In a 2018 season that’s already been a nightmare for the Raiders, things officially turned into an unmitigated disaster on Thursday as Oakland got blown out of Levi’s Stadium in a 34-3 loss to the 49ers.
Even though the Raiders have been bad this season, this was a game they were supposed to be able to win. Not only were they playing a 1-7 49ers team (now 2-7), but they were going up against a second-year quarterback who was making the first start of his NFL career. Oh, and the game was being played just 40 miles from Oakland, which meant that roughly half the people in the stadium were there to cheer for the Raiders.
It also meant that roughly half the stadium went home depressed after another embarrassing outing from a team that looks like it’s given up on Jon Gruden. It’s not easy to lose the locker room just nine weeks into your first season, but it’s starting to look like that’s what’s happening in Oakland.
This game had everything we’ve come to expect from the 2018 Raiders. You want Gruden getting frustrated with Derek Carr? We’ve got that.
Although Gruden has insisted that he won’t be trading Carr anytime soon, you have to wonder about the state of their relationship, especially when you consider that they seem to get upset with each other every game. Of course, Gruden had plenty of legitimate reasons to get upset in San Francisco, and that’s because Carr struggled with his decision-making all night.
For instance, Carr got sacked seven times against the Niners, but it’s hard to blame the offensive line for all of those. At least two of the sacks appeared to be Carr’s fault, including the one you see below, where Carr basically ran into the defender for a five-yard loss.
That will probably be the easiest sack that Cassius Marsh ever gets.
Taking bad sacks wasn’t Carr’s only issue. On a third-and-12 in the third quarter, Carr had a chance to throw for a first down, but instead, decided to check down to a receiver who came nowhere near getting the first down.
The score at this point was 24-3, so Carr had nothing to lose by trying for a first down on a deep ball, but instead, he threw a pass that gave the Raiders no chance of converting. Carr eventually got pulled in the fourth quarter as Gruden decided to give AJ McCarron his first action of the season. In his time on the field, Carr led the Raiders to a field goal on their opening drive, then didn’t come anywhere close to scoring during his seven other possessions on the field.
To put Carr’s night in perspective, his longest completion against the 49ers came on a pass that should have been intercepted.
Carr finished 16 of 22 for 171 yards.
The relationship between Gruden and Carr seems to be growing rockier by the week, and it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if Carr’s not the quarterback when this team gets to Las Vegas in 2020.
That being said, you can’t pin all the blame for this loss on Carr. The Raiders defense, which has looked bad all season, somehow managed to look even worse against the 49ers. Not only did they get torched by a quarterback who had literally never thrown a regular season pass in his life, but they got lit up by the big play multiple times. The Raiders gave up three plays in this game that went for over 50 yards and they surrendered 31 points to a 49ers team that was averaging just 21.6 points per game on the season.
The only upside to this loss for the Raiders is that it puts them one step closer to earning the first overall pick in the NFL Draft, which is probably a delightful thought for Gruden. The man has been racking up first-round draft picks all year, and he’ll probably view the 2018 season as a success if the Raiders end the year with the No. 1 overall pick.
Alright, now that we’ve got the Raiders out of the way, let’s get to the 49ers and their new franchise quarterback(?).
Nick ‘Money’ Mullens shreds the Raiders
If you had never heard of Nick Mullens in your life going into Thursday’s game, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
His nickname isn’t money, but it probably should be after his three-touchdown performance against the Raiders.
The former Southern Mississippi star was signed by the 49ers as an undrafted free agent in 2017. After spending last year on the practice squad, it looked like Mullens was going to experience more of the same in 2018. However, after Jimmy Garoppolo got hurt, Mullens was called up to the active roster.
The reason he got the starting nod on Thursday is because C.J. Beathard injured his wrist on Sunday and couldn’t really grip the ball. Obviously, being able to grip the ball is an important skill for a quarterback, and since he couldn’t do that, the 49ers benched Beathard and turned to Mullens.
In the first start of his NFL career, all Mullens did was dominate the Raiders, and that domination started on his first pass of the game when he connected with Marquise Goodwin for an 11-yard gain.
Five plays later, Mullens hit Pierre Garcon for a 24-yard touchdown, which was notable for two reasons: It was Mullens’ first career touchdown pass and it was the first touchdown that Garcon has caught as a member of the 49ers.
That’s right, Garcon didn’t catch a touchdown pass during his entire first year in San Francisco last season.
The first drive of the game is usually the easiest one for a new quarterback, and that’s because your team is usually calling scripted plays that you’ve been running in practice all week. For a first-time starter like Mullens, what matters most is what you do after the opening drive, and the 49ers quarterback somehow seemed to get better.
On the 49ers’ second drive, Mullens continued to churn out big plays, like this 25-yard pass to Garcon.
By the way, if Garcon has a vote on who the starter is going forward, you have to think he’s going to vote for Mullens after catching three passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. A few plays after hitting Garcon, Mullens had his second touchdown pass of the game when he hit Kendrick Bourne for a four-yard score.
By halftime, Mullens had already thrown for 167 yards. The 23-year-old had such a big game (16 of 22 for 262 yards and three touchdowns) that he now has many touchdown passes on the season as every quarterback on the Buffalo Bills combined.
When Thursday’s game started, Nick Mullens was an obscure backup quarterback with 5,000 followers who wasn’t even verified on Twitter. By the end of the night, Mullens was a verified star with more than 16,000 followers.
Although there’s no guarantee that Mullens will get another start, you have to think that Kyle Shanahan will definitely want to give him another look after what he pulled off against the Raiders. After the win, Shanahan said he’ll “definitely consider” starting Mullens again.
In the win, Mullens became the first 49ers quarterback ever to throw three touchdown passes in his first game with the team, and he did all this while making history in the national spotlight. By playing on Thursday, Mullens became the first quarterback since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to make his NFL starting debut on a Thursday.
49ers dial up the big play all night
The 49ers averaged an absurdly high 7.5 yards per play against the Raiders, and a big reason they were able to do that is because the big play was working. Overall, the 49ers had three plays in the game that went for more than 50 yards.
The fun started n the second quarter with the 49ers facing a third-and-6 from their own 24-yard line. A failed conversion would have likely given the Raiders given good field position, but Nick Mullens apparently doesn’t fail at anything. The quarterback connected with Richie James Jr. on a quick slant that went for 53 yards.
The drive ended with a 39-yard field goal from Robbie Gould that would give the 49ers a 17-3 halftime lead.
The second big play came early in the third quarter when George Kittle made one of the best one-handed catches that you’ll ever see. On a second-and-12, Mullens threw into traffic and Kittle somehow came away with the catch on a pass that went for a 71-yard gain.
Kittle got to finish the drive two plays later when he caught a five-yard touchdown pass that gave the 49ers a 24-3 lead. Kittle finished the game with four catches for 108 yards.
The third and final big play was the only one that didn’t involve Mullens. On a first-down play midway through the third quarter, Mullens handed the ball Raheem Mostert, who then zigged and zagged his way for a 52-yard touchdown.
Of the 405 total yards that the 49ers gained against the Raiders, nearly 45 percent (176 yards) came on those three plays.
Cheerleader takes knee before game
It was just over two years ago in San Francisco when Colin Kaepernick started protesting, and it’s pretty clear that the spirit of his protest is still alive in the city where it all began. Kaepernick’s protest, which was then taken up by players around the league, involved keeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality against minorities.
During the national anthem on Thursday, a 49ers cheerleader also took a knee.
With Kaepernick still fighting for his cause, the former 49ers quarterback will probably be thrilled to see that players aren’t the only ones protesting anymore.
The 49ers cheerleader is believed to be the first NFL cheerleader to protest during the national anthem.
The Raiders have 10 days to figure things out before they host the Chargers at home. As for the 49ers, they’ll get an 11-day break, and that’s because their next game will be on Monday Night Football in Week 10. The 49ers will be playing the Giants and could actually end up doing the Raiders a favor if they lose to New York.
The Raiders and Giants are currently tied for the worst record in the NFL, and if the Giants win over the Niners on Nov. 12, that will put the Raiders one step closer to the top pick.
To relive Mullens’ big night and the Raiders’ ugly loss, you can check out our chat from the game below.
Thank you for joining us.
Source: Read Full Article