49ers, Raiders succeeding at not entertaining, failing at everything else


49ers, Raiders succeeding at not entertaining, failing at everything else

A lot of fun/weird things happened in the National Football League on Sunday, which is why the sport, for its many flaws, still owns the sports business in this country.

But none of those things happened to the Oakland Raiders or San Francisco 49ers, and they certainly didn’t happen for them.

On a day when NFL Red Zone got whiplash, when Odell Beckham and Graham Gano and Greg Joseph and Linval Joseph and Isaiah Crowell and Pat Shurmur and Sean McVay and Jason Garrett and Trent Dilfer and Blake Bortles and Patrick Mahomes all grabbed your brains and faces for different reasons, the Raiders and 49ers did remarkably little to leave an imprint anywhere except at the bottom of their separate corners of the standings block.

They lost comfortably to flawed teams before acres of empty seats, and here were the highlights:

-- Raiders quarterback Derek Carr threw an interception on first-and-goal from the Los Angeles Chargers' 1-yard line, advancing his rep as the best thing that ever happened to the defensive secondary. He's on a pace to be the first quarterback to average two picks per game since Vinny Testaverde did it in 1988 for a 5-11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers team.

-- Cardinals rookie Josh Rosen threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to a scandalously uncovered Christian Kirk on Arizona’s first -- and only -- offensive play.

The rest of both games were turgid slogs in the sun that served only to remind the winners that they can’t be bad all the time and the losers that bottom has not yet been reached, even though they can see it from where they are.

Raiders fans suspected this would be their future the day Jon Gruden traded edge rusher Khalil Mack, but doubled down on the feeling when he decided as Pete Carroll did on a much larger stage that Marshawn Lynch cannot be trusted to get one tough yard when all he’s ever done his entire career is get tough yards, most recently a week ago.

And 49ers fans suspected this would be their future when the idealized version of Jimmy Garoppolo stepped wrong in Kansas City. Oh, they tried to take the cheerful road about C.J. Beathard and his toughness and how the team could thrive with him as quarterback when in fact Beathard’s insistence on defying the pressures of the pocket and his essential role as a backup quarterback on a rebuilding team leads to games like Sunday’s.

Either way, neither team was competitive in seemingly winnable games, and they certainly weren’t memorable or even conversation-worthy.

And while losing is the worst thing, losing and not covering only makes it worse, and not being interesting in defeat is the condiment that ruins the entire meal. 

Sunday was, in short, a thoroughly wasted day in what is looking more and more like a wasted year for the NFL’s designated representatives in our area. Neither team escaped the orbit of tedium, and both head on the road for what we can only imagine will be more of the same. The 49ers face a doubly angry Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, while the Raiders go to London to play Seattle and plan to maximize jet lag by staying in the Bay Area through Thursday.

In other words, our part of the NFL diaspora is an indistinct and spreading gray smear through four weeks, and it isn’t likely to get much better in the near term. Failure to succeed happens every year to 20 teams, 31 if you’re the win-or-die type, but failure to entertain is a lot harder to endure. Whatever else can be said about the 49ers and Raiders after five weeks, at least they haven’t been captivating.

Four 49ers players to watch in NFL Week 15 game vs. Seahawks

Four 49ers players to watch in NFL Week 15 game vs. Seahawks

Kyle Shanahan has been around for the past three games of the Seattle Seahawks’ dominance over the 49ers.

He'd prefer not to be reminded of an ongoing streak next season.

“Regardless of whether I’ve been here for two years or since 2013, I don’t like having to answer that question,” the coach said on "49ers Game Plan," which airs Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).

“I don’t want to hear it for another year, that it’s been that long since the 49ers have beaten them. I’d like to only have to talk about that until Sunday and then not have to talk about it again.”

For the record, the Seahawks have beaten the 49ers in 10 consecutive head-to-head matchups, beginning with the victory in the NFC Championship game after the 2013 regular season. The Seahawks blasted the 49ers 43-16 two weeks ago in Seattle.

Here are four 49ers players to watch in the rematch Sunday at Levi’s Stadium:

QB Nick Mullens

Mullens threw for 300 yards against the Seahawks just two weeks ago.

Let’s clarify: Mullens threw for 300 yards against the Seahawks just two weeks ago ... in the second half.

Mullens finished with 414 passing yards, but nearly three-quarters of those yards came after halftime when the 49ers were hopelessly behind. Mullens will make his sixth consecutive start when the Seahawks come to Levi’s Stadium, and the 49ers must get off to a better start.

Mullens has thrown for 746 yards in the past two weeks. He ranks behind only Jimmy Garoppolo for most passing yards in his first five starts, and he has placed himself in an advantageous position to challenge C.J. Beathard for the backup role next season.

He even has caught the eye of Hall of Famer Joe Montana, who recognized that Mullens generally has been making good decisions.

“He knows he has to continue to do the things that he knows he can do and not try to become a player that he’s not,” Montana said.

SS Marcell Harris

Harris made his first NFL start two weeks ago in Seattle. It was a rough outing, as he missed three tackles, but his play dramatically improved last week with some big stops in the 49ers’ win over the Denver Broncos.

Harris will play close to the line of scrimmage, and he figures to be a major factor in the 49ers’ bid to slow down the Seahawks’ running game.

“I’m going to redeem myself with tackling, most definitely,” Harris said. “The first game I came out of, I felt like I didn’t do well. From here on out, that’s one of my biggest keys. Keep moving forward and keep stacking these games on top of each other.”

NT D.J. Jones

Jones replaced veteran nose tackle Earl Mitchell in the starting lineup last week, and he appeared to add some spark with his young legs. Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay was one of the hottest runners in the league, but the 49ers held him to 30 yards on 14 carries.

The 49ers’ defense will face a challenge against the Seahawks after yielding 168 rushing yards to them two weeks ago. Running backs Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis all have been used with success. Quarterback Russell Wilson also is a threat with his legs.

Jones likely will see the most action at nose tackle on base downs for the remainder of the season to show whether he's capable of being a starter next season.

TE George Kittle

After his 210-yard receiving game against the Broncos, Kittle isn't sneaking up on anyone. He already has put together the most prolific season for any tight end in 49ers history.

Kittle has been the 49ers’ most consistent offensive threat with 69 receptions for 1,103 yards and four touchdowns. Two weeks ago in Seattle, he caught six passes for 70 yards.

49ers-Seahawks injury report: Jaquiski Tartt out for second consecutive game


49ers-Seahawks injury report: Jaquiski Tartt out for second consecutive game

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers will face the Seattle Seahawks without safety Jaquiski Tartt, who will sit out for the second week in a row. 

This will be the sixth game that Tartt has missed over the course of the season while dealing with a re-occurring shoulder injury. Marcell Harris and Antone Exum Jr. will reprise their roles at the safety positions as a result. 

Harris had a much improved performance in the team’s win over the Broncos, exemplifying the learning curve that was expected by coach Robert Saleh. 

[RELATED: 49ers rookie Harris gets quick chance for redemption vs. Seahawks]

Wide receivers Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis are questionable, which is a better sign than being downgraded, after being limited in practice this week. Expect to still see Kendrick Bourne in the lineup frequently, as well as tight end George Kittle working in as a receiving weapon. 

Running back Matt Breida also is questionable, but with solid performances by rookie Jeff Wilson over the last few weeks, there is less pressure to get him onto the field. His snap counts could be limited. 

Good news for the offense is that all offensive linemen are off the injury report. That could help their ability to work against a Seahawks front seven that held the 49ers to 66 yards on the ground in their first matchup. 

49ers injury report

S Jaquiski Tartt 

RB Matt Breida
WR Marquise Goodwin
LB Mark Nzeocha
WR Dante Pettis
CB K’Waun Williams
DL Cassius Marsh

Seahawks injury report 

S Maurice Alexander 
RB Rashaad Penny
LB K.J. Wright

G D.J. Fluker

WR Doug Baldwin 
S Bradley McDougald
DT Jarran Reed