Raiders, 49ers both unhappy with Christmas gifts, need return receipt

Raiders, 49ers both unhappy with Christmas gifts, need return receipt

The Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers have won their games on the same day rarely enough in this decade – eight times in five years and 84 weeks.  Indeed, their shared history in the Bay Area is largely a monument to one-upsmanship/one-downsmanship; they have both made the playoffs in the same year only four times in 44 years.

It is an all-encompassing tribute to their combined avoidance of mutual joy that helps to make each fan base largely unbearable to the other. It is an inspiration to angst-junkies everywhere.

So when you get a day like Saturday when both teams win in radically different ways, it makes a certain perverse sense that nobody was particularly happy about it.

The Raiders’ 33-25 victory over Indianapolis was a catastrophe in every way save the scoreboard, and in the aftermath their spirits were as broken as quarterback Derek Carr’s right fibula. They had Super Bowl aspirations, and in one otherwise innocuous moment with less than 11 minutes to go in a game long ago decided, those aspirations were drastically torqued downward.

The 49ers, in the meantime, came from behind for the first time since January to beat Los Angeles, 22-21, and when combined with Cleveland’s win against San Diego and Jacksonville’s hammering of Tennessee kept the San Franciscii wedged in the No. 2 draft spot this coming April. Since they had no future to plan for save that, what with the front office and roster about to be drastically reordered, and since the win itself didn’t make a material difference in their place in the NFL – better than the Browns, worse than the Jaguars, hurray – nobody was particularly enthused.

Nor, frankly, should they have been. They didn’t even fail spectacularly enough, the way the 2008 Lions (0-16) or 2001 Panthers (1-15, winning the opener than being run by the table) did. They won a game nobody cared about, a game nobody ever will. The next important thing they do is determine who will run their football operation and the huddles therein, and beating the Rams does nothing whatsoever for that.

And Merry Christmas.

The thing that keeps sports from being a fleeting moment in an otherwise gray world, and keeps fans shopping for new sweatshirts, jersey, beer cozies and dog sweaters, though, is the notion that even days like Saturday can be replaced by something better.

The Raiders could beat Denver in Denver to assure themselves a first-round bye, or at the very least to put the final boot into the soon-to-be-former Super Bowl champions. Matt McGloin, the new Carr, could look a lot more like the old Carr than anyone imagines is currently possible – though that plainly isn’t the way to bet.

The 49ers could beat Seattle this coming week and ruin the Seahawks’ thin hopes of a first-round bye – though that plainly isn’t the way to think, let alone bet.

But Saturday stands alone as a perfectly wretched Christmas Eve at the office – one in which both teams won and either felt awful or worse, nothing at all.

Next year will be different. Carr’s leg will have mended, and the aborted possibilities of 2016 will become the hunger of 2017. The 49ers will have new people in charge of new people unless Jed York lets his stubborn refusal to acknowledge error get in the way of the overwhelming evidence, and 2017 can’t possibly be as bad as 2016 – we think.

But this Christmas Eve 2016 will endure as one of those rare days in their shared history when both got what they sought and felt awful about it.

Now that’s a fresh hell for the holiday season. Ho ho ho that, Skippy.

Raiders to sign former 49ers defensive lineman


Raiders to sign former 49ers defensive lineman

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden wanted veterans to help turn his defense around. He added a linebacker and defensive backs aplenty. Then, on Friday night, he gave the front some help.

Former 49ers defensive lineman Tank Carradine will sign with the Raiders, the 28-year old announced on his Instagram page. 

The Sacramento Bee first reported the news. 

He visited the Raiders on Thursday and was in Seattle earlier Friday, but will sign with the Silver and Black.

Carradine could help their transition to a more traditional 4-3 alignment, able to play end in the base defense. He has proven himself as a solid run defender, but believes he can be an effective pass rusher if given the opportunity.

Carradine didn’t get many pass-rushing chances with the 49ers, who generally removed him on passing downs. He has 5.5 sacks in four professional seasons. He played 37.9 percent of 49ers defensive snaps during eight games with the 49ers last season. He missed the same amount on short-term injured reserve with an ankle injury.

At 6-foot-4, 270 pounds, he has the size to be a 4-3 base end. He’ll likely have to battle Mario Edwards Jr. for snaps opposite Khalil Mack, though Bruce Irvin will take that spot in sub packages.

Carradine will be the 10th free-agent signing expected to make the roster, which means the roster turnover this summer should be significant. 

Here was his Instagram post from Friday night: 

Proud to become an Oakland Raider! Let's go #raiders#nation

A post shared by Cornellius Smith (@tank.carradine) on

Adding Rashaan Melvin the key move to Raiders' revamped secondary


Adding Rashaan Melvin the key move to Raiders' revamped secondary

The Raiders started this offseason looking to revamp their secondary around their last two first-round picks. Gareon Conley would start at one cornerback spot. Karl Joseph was penned at strong safety.

Every other job, however, was wide open and likely filled from the outside.

Safety Marcus Gilchrist came aboard Thursday, but one premium spot remained open opposite Conley. Veteran cornerback Rashaan Melvin took it Friday afternoon, agreeing on terms of a one-year $6.5 million contract.

NFL Network broke the news of a bargain compared to other cornerback free-agent deals. They aren’t attached to him long term, and Melvin can sign a bigger deal if he plays well in 2018.

The Raiders declared interest in the former Indianapolis cornerback early this week and worked toward an agreement sealed during a Friday morning visit at the team’s Alameda practice facility.

The 28-year old’s fresh off a career year, allowing just 29 receptions for 328 yards and two touchdowns on 55 targets in 2017. He had three interceptions and 13 passes defensed. Quarterbacks had a paltry 60.3 passer rating against him.

Melvin stands 6-foot-2, 196 pounds and has the athleticism to excel in Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s system.

Melvin bounced around before settling with the Colts, struggling to find footing in Tampa Bay, Baltimore New England and two offseason programs in Miami. He found a home in Indianapolis, and became a regular starter in 2016. His breakout 2017 season was cut short by a hand injury that kept him out the last five games.

Melvin projects to start right away. The Raiders will be thrilled if he stays healthy and retains recent form. Melvin has solid ball skills, regularly forces incompletions and thrived in tough assignments that came with being the Colts’ top cornerback.

Gilchrist’s addition, Melvin’s deal and the Friday addition of Shareece Wright fills a cupboard in the defensive backfield laid bare by design.

The Raiders cut David Amerson and now-jailed Sean Smith this offseason. TJ Carrie took a big deal in Cleveland. Reggie Nelson’s allowed to walk as a free agent.

The Raiders added three free agents to the group thus far, and could well draft another defensive back next month.

They’ll have safety Obi Melifonwu in reserve – he’ll have to earn a role after missing most of 2017 with injury – and cornerbacks Antonio Hamilton and Dexter McDonald vying for spots.

Melvin will be plenty motivated to have a big year and cash in at age 29, for what might be his last shot at a big payday.