INDIANAPOLIS – The Raiders and 49ers face off twice this year. The first go-round happened Friday afternoon, when the teams dueled in an epic showdown at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Catching the sarcasm? Good. Was laying it on pretty thick.
Rod Woodson, a Hall of Fame defensive back who played for both teams, flipped a commemorative coin to determine the No. 9 pick in the NFL draft, the only way to break a tie determining draft selection order.
The NFL played this up. The event was broadcast live on NFL Network. A coin was brandished, with an eye-patched pirate on one side an interlocked SF on the other.
This was required because the Raiders and 49ers finished 6-10 and held an identical strength of schedule. That set up a mega showdown for the ages.
Reggie McKenzie and Jon Gruden were there in silver and black. John Lynch rocked red and gold. This was a big freaking deal, one participants weathered with tongues firmly planted in cheek.
The 49ers won. Yippe-kai-yay.
"Rod had an important job, to make sure it landed on the right side,” McKenzie said with a sly grin. “It was a bad flip.”
That outcome will matter far less than the regular season showdown in Santa Clara this fall, but the league played the coin toss up to spice an otherwise mundane combine day.
The teams will alternate draft position in lower rounds, but the 49ers have priority in the first round and have a chance to select someone their Bay Area rival was hoping for to take.
Both teams need a coverage linebacker. Both teams need a cornerback. Lynch might snag a prospect coveted on both sides of the bay.
McKenzie wasn’t worried about it days before, saying the coin-toss winner wouldn’t gain a significant advantage.
“I don’t think it matters much, as far as the player,” McKenzie said Wednesday. “Maybe the trade value holds a bit more, if somebody wants to get up the ninth pick over the 10th. I don’t think it’s going to be a huge factor. I won’t lose any sleep over this, none at all.”
Metal currency has broken several ties in the past. It never received such fanfare.
“We used to do it in a back room,” said NFL director of player personnel Ken Fiore, a tiebreaking historian of sorts. “We’ve done coin flips for a long time. The first I remember was in the Crowne Plaza (in 1996), with (Green Bay GM) Ron Wolf and (Baltimore GM) Ozzie Newsome. I pulled a quarter out of my pocket and said, ‘who wants to flip it?’ We flipped it, signed something to say they witnessed the result and that was it.”
That wasn’t how Friday fared. The moment was hyped, but came with only one rule.
“Just make sure it rotates,” Fiore said. “We need a good flip.”
McKenzie doesn’t believe he got one.
“We were supposed to win that toss,” McKenzie said. “I’m going to have to get over this.”