EJ Manuel inspires confidence despite not completing comeback in Denver


EJ Manuel inspires confidence despite not completing comeback in Denver

DENVER – The Raiders know all to well what happens when Derek Carr goes down. That happened late last year, and the Raiders completely unraveled.

They lost a chance to win the AFC West in Denver, and got waxed in a playoff game at Houston.

They used Matt McGloin and Connor Cook last year. They have EJ Manuel now.

The veteran backup took over when Carr suffered a back injury late in the third quarter of Sunday’s 16-10 loss to the Broncos. While he didn’t complete the comeback, Manuel fared well down the final stretch.

He was 11-for-17 for 106 yards. He led the Raiders on a field goal drive. And he had them knocking on the door to score a later game-winning touchdown before he was baited into a interception.

Amari Cooper looked open a first, but safety Justin Simmons closed quickly and secured victory for Denver with a pick.

That throw, and some misuse of timeouts, were pockmarks on an otherwise decent performance under tough circumstances.

“I understood the situation and my biggest thing was just getting in a rhythm as fast as possible,” Manuel said. “I haven’t gone with the first team since we started the season. The situation is what it is. You’ve got to perform. I’ll go back and watch the tape and move forward.”

Carr’s back injury isn’t a long-term thing, and there’s a legitimate chance he plays next week against Baltimore. Manuel will be ready if he can’t go, and should give the Raiders a better chance that reserves did late last season. He showed some moxie, which instilled confidence in his teammates should he been needed again.

“He did a good job, a really good job,” tight end Jared Cook said. “That is what we need when guys go down, for guys to step up, fill their role, play their position and come up big.”

With Bowman heading to Oakland, everyone ends up happy, unless...

With Bowman heading to Oakland, everyone ends up happy, unless...

NaVorro Bowman’s employment odyssey lasted three days, and he didn’t have to get his mailing address changed.

The one-year, $3 million deal he reportedly signed with Oakland Monday came after a fairly quiet weekend for all parties. It was an easy choice for him, since there is minimal disruption, and an easy choice for Oakland, which needs all the defensive expertise it can get and has players that Bowman’s diminishing speed cannot expose.

In other words, everyone ends up happy . . . unless Bowman suddenly improves to the point where John Lynch has some ‘splainin’ to do.

The Raiders and 49ers have often shared players, thus belying their often overblown rivalry. The convenience was too . . . well, convenient, and will not be in evidence once Las Vegas becomes an NFL city.

And lord known the Raiders need some new voices in a room that has seemingly gone stale as expectations start to brown into disappointment. Bowman brings an effervescence borne of deep playoff runs, without being too loud a voice in a room that needs to develop more permanent leadership.

As to how much any of this translates into improved defensive play, or just a better vibe coming from Oaktown, well, put it this way.

If Bowman can stanch that level of bleeding, he shouldn’t be playing, he should be an EMT.

But at least he won’t end his career with a sour meeting with the people who run his original team, and that must count for something.


Ex-49ers LB NaVorro Bowman signs deal with Raiders

Ex-49ers LB NaVorro Bowman signs deal with Raiders

ALAMEDA – Former 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman visited with the Raiders on Monday, with other team meetings left on the schedule.

He isn’t going to take them.

The former All-Pro inside linebacker signed with the Raiders, Jack Del Rio announced Monday during his press conference. According to multiple reports, the deal is a one-year, $3 million contract. The Dallas Cowboys website first reported the agreement. He had a meeting with the Cowboys lined up for Tuesday.

Bowman fills a huge need in the Raiders defense. They need experience and depth on the inside. Bowman certainly provides that. Recent play suggests he isn’t the top-flight player of recent years, seeming slowed by past injuries to his knee and Achilles’ tendon.

He hasn’t forgotten how to tackle or play the run or make pre-snap reads. The Raiders need help in all those areas. They have been playing with rookie Marquel Lee and second-year pro Cory James in the base defense. Both guys are dealing with injuries, making this move even more valuable.

The Raiders are operating on a short week, but Bowman’s healthy and obviously in great shape, making it possible Bowman could play the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.

"Not out of the question," Del Rio said when asked if Bowman could play Thursday night.

The Raiders also need help on passing downs, though it’s uncertain how much Bowman can help there. James and undrafted rookie Nicholas Morrow have manned the sub package on the inside. Another undrafted rookie, Xavier Woodson-Luster, filled in for James during Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Bowman’s experience and the Raiders’ other options may lead him to be a three-down linebacker on this team. Time will tell on that front.

According to Pro Football Focus, Bowman has allowed 11 receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets this season. Bowman was lost coverage snaps to other 49ers in Week 5 and was set to lose more time to rookie Reuben Foster, a disappointment that expedited his release from the 49ers.

Bowman is a four-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler, and a winner of the 2013 Dick Butkus Award.

The Raiders should get on-field leadership on the interior and a motivated player determined to prove he remains an impact player despite being cut by a 49ers team he served since 2010.

The Raiders are mired in a four-game losing streak and are looking for a boost on both sides of the ball. Bowman should help a defense that hasn’t been half bad recently, but has lacked a presence at inside linebacker.