49ers

49ers takeaways: What we learned from 34-3 dismantling of Raiders

49ers takeaways: What we learned from 34-3 dismantling of Raiders

BOX SCORE

SANTA CLARA -- Nick Mullens' NFL debut was a memorable one.

The quarterback delivered in a big way, as the 49ers ended their six-game losing streak with a 34-3 win over the Raiders on Thursday night at Levi’s Stadium.

Mullens, an undrafted second-year pro from Southern Miss, got the call because 49ers starter C.J. Beathard was less than 100 percent with right wrist and thumb injuries.

Mullens put together a strong showing against Jon Gruden’s beleaguered Raiders. Mullens completed 16 of 22 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns, and he was not intercepted. His passer rating was 151.9.

Here are three quick takeaways from the 49ers’ win over the Raiders:

Mullens’ blazing start

The entire playbook was open to Mullens, who has been with the 49ers since signing in the spring of 2017.

The offense rolled smoothly, as Mullens converted the team's first four third-down opportunities and threw touchdown passes to cap his first two drives.

Mullens found wide receiver Pierre Garçon all alone for a 24-yard TD pass after the Raiders kicked a field goal on their opening drive. Then, Mullens and Kendrick Bourne hooked up for a 4-yard score on the next possession.

Mullens became just the second 49ers quarterback since at least 2000 to throw TD passes on each of the first two drives of a game. Colin Kaepernick also threw TD passes on his first drives of the 2014 season opener against the Dallas Cowboys.

Through the first half, Mullens completed 12 of 17 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions and a passer rating of 141.1. The 49ers led 17-3 at halftime.

Pass rush emerges

The 49ers entered Thursday with one of the most anemic pass rushes in the NFL. But against the Raiders, they generated consistent pressure on quarterback Derek Carr.

The 49ers recorded 16 sacks in their first eight games of the season, but they pressured Carr in the first half for four sacks and finished with eight for the night.

Cassius Marsh recorded 2½ sacks. Dekoda Watson, who made his season debut after spending the first eight weeks on injured reserve, was credited with 1½ sacks. DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas and Ronald Blair had one sack apiece.

Carr was taken out of the game in the fourth quarter after completing 16 of 22 passes for 171 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions.

Closing it out

In six of the 49ers’ first eight games, they either held the lead or had been within one score in the fourth. Their only victory, however, came in Week 2, when they nearly let a 17-point lead get away against the Detroit Lions.

So, yes, closing has been an issue for Shanahan’s team.

That wasn't the case this time. Although the 49ers were playing on a short week after a tough loss to the Arizona Cardinals, they looked well-rested and fast against the Raiders.

The 49ers blew the game open at the start of the third quarter with back-to-back touchdown drives. Tight end George Kittle had a 71-yard reception of a risky Mullens pass in traffic. Two plays later, Mullens hit Kittle for a 5-yard TD pass. Kittle finished with four catches for 108 yards.

Running back Raheem Mostert scored on a zig-zagging 52-yard touchdown in the third quarter. He later exited the game with a season-ending broken forearm. Mostert gained 86 yards on seven carries.

49ers-Panthers injury report: Joe Staley could return ahead of schedule

49ers-Panthers injury report: Joe Staley could return ahead of schedule

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers hope to get an important piece of their offense back for Sunday’s matchup against the Panthers.

Veteran left tackle Joe Staley, who broke his left fibula in Week 2 against the Bengals, participated in individual drills during practice on Wednesday and depending on how the rest of the week goes, he could return earlier than expected. 

Staley was seen pushing the sled prior to practice. If everything goes according to plan, the 13-year veteran could be available to return to his spot of protecting Jimmy Garoppolo against the prominent Panthers defense. 

“I think these next two days are big and we’ll see how he feels on Wednesday,” Shanahan said on Monday. “I do think there’s an outside chance, but hopefully we can get him out on the practice field a little bit this week to where if he feels good and everything then he can go.
 
“But if not, at least he gets a little bit of work in because it’s going to be hard to get a real practice in the following week because of the Thursday night game versus Arizona.”
 
The original hope was to have Ahkello Witherspoon back on the field by Sunday. Now Shanahan isn’t as hopeful after the cornerback hit a bump on his road to recovery from a foot sprain

“I was hoping for it,” Shanahan said on Monday. “Had a little bit of a setback last week, not big, but I think it’ll be pushing it this week. There’s still an outside chance, but not as much as I felt last week.”

49ers

Did not participate
FB Kyle Juszczyk (knee)
T Mike McGlinchey (knee)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon (foot)

Limited participation
DE Dee Ford (quadricep)
DT D.J. Jones (hamstring)
TE George Kittle (groin)
RB Raheem Mostert (knee)
WR Deebo Samuel (groin)
T Joe Staley (fibula)

[RELATED: Sanders read to add 'positive energy']

Panthers

Did not participate 
LB Brian Burns (wrist)
G Dennis Daley (groin)
T Greg Little (concussion)
LB Christian Miller (ankle)
QB Cam Newton (foot)

Limited participation
DT Gerald McCoy (knee)
LB Shaq Thompson (ankle)

Full Participation
LB Mario Addison (knee)
CB Donte Jackson (groin)
C Tyler Larsen (back)
E Greg Olsen (finger)
S Eric Reid (ankle)
G Trai Turner (ankle)

49ers' Kyle Shanahan likes risk-reward nature of Emmanuel Sanders trade

49ers' Kyle Shanahan likes risk-reward nature of Emmanuel Sanders trade

SANTA CLARA -- Coach Kyle Shanahan might have felt less urgency for the 49ers to add a wide receiver this year, so it is clear what the organization is thinking with the acquisition of Emmanuel Sanders on Tuesday.

“I think it says that we’re competing this year to try to get in the playoffs,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said on Wednesday.

“I think that’s pretty obvious with where our record is at right now, but we’re not even halfway through this year. I know we’ve got a long way to go, but this is a decision you’ve got to make before next Tuesday.”

The 49ers are 6-0 entering their Week 8 game Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. They acquired Sanders and a fifth-round pick from the Denver Broncos for third and fourth-round draft selections in 2020. The deal was completed a full week ahead of the NFL trade deadline.

“With where we’re at right now, we wanted to see how much better we can make our team and I think we did as good as we could in that area without really truly making a huge risk on the future,” Shanahan said.

Sanders is signed through only the remainder of the season before he is scheduled for unrestricted free agency.

“We feel he’s a guy who can come in and help us a lot this year and we’ll see where it goes for him after that,” Shanahan said. “We’re very well aware that he’ll be a free agent at the end of this year and we’ll see how this year goes, and hopefully we’ll be able to keep him here.”

Shanahan said he has coveted Sanders since he signed with the Broncos as a free agent following four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers after entering the league as a third-round draft pick from SMU.

“We were looking into all possibilities, we didn’t know if any of them would go through,” Shanahan said. “I have felt less urgency than we have in year’s past. I feel good about our group, but we do have a better team right now and we were able to make it better yesterday and pumped he’s here.”

Shanahan said he believes Sanders is moving better this year than a year ago before sustaining a torn left Achilles in early December. Sanders also underwent offseason surgery on his right ankle. He has 30 receptions for 367 yards and two touchdowns in seven games with the Broncos this season.

Sanders (5-foot-11, 200 pounds) has the versatility to play all of the receiver positions in the 49ers' offense. Shanahan is likely to keep the Panthers guessing on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.

[RELATED: Sanders ready to add more 'positive energy' to the 49ers]

“I think he’s always been very good at separating,” Shanahan said. “He’s wired in a certain way where he can get downfield, he also can break you off inside. Not the biggest guy, but he plays big. He’s hard to get your hands on. He can push through things and he plays very aggressive.

“The game is not too big for him. He can go over the middle and not flinch. He catches the ball and gets up the field hard. He’s a very good football player, plus still a very good talent, also.”