Saturday, September 19, 2009

49ers/Raiders Preview

The 49ers are coming fresh off an upset in the desert in which they beat the reigning NFC Champion Cardinals, and head into Sunday's tilt with the Seahawks with some pretty strong momentum. The Seahawks are also coming off of an impressive victory themselves, as they shut out the St. Louis Rams last Sunday, to the tune of 28-0. In order for the Niners to win their second consecutive game, their going to have to contain former pro-bowl quarterback Matt Hasselback. After struggling through injury and ineffectiveness last season, Hasselback put up a nice 279 yard, 3 TD performance vs. the Rams and looked much more like the pre-2008 version of himself. Seattle doesn't have a rushing attack that will put fear in an opposing defense, but Julius Jones is also coming off a nice week in which he rushed for 117 yards and a score. Still though, the main focus on defense for the Niners has to be on Hasselback and the passing game, much like it was with Warner and the Cards passing attack last weekend. If they can put the pressure on Hasselback the same way they did Warner, they will have the edge in the game.

Offensively, the 49ers need to control the football. If they win the time of possession battle, they will likely win the ballgame. In order to do that, they'll need Frank Gore to rebound from his 20 carry, 30 yard outing vs. the Cardinals. I'd also like to see the 49ers design some more plays for Vernon Davis. The 25 year-old beast of a tight-end had 5 catches for 40 yards on Sunday, but most of his looks were short passes in the flat and nothing really down field. Davis is one of the fastest tight-ends in the NFL and the Niners need to start taking advantage of that. He's had two full years to learn the league a bit and he looks like he's ready to break out, but he's going to need the game plan to include him a bit more. The dude has the kind of speed and play-making ability to turn any catch he makes into a big gain, and he should be getting at least 7-8 looks per game. Davis had one catch or less in 10 games last year, and this guy has the tools to be one of the most explosive ends in all the NFL. Get him the ball!

Raiders Quick Take: The Raiders have a game Sunday in which they actually should win. They take on the Chiefs in Kansas City, who will likely be without quarterback Matt Cassel for the second straight week. The Raiders are also coming off a game vs. the Chargers in which they didn't quite pull off, but did play a pretty good ballgame. The Raiders are going to have to get their running game going early with their two headed-monster of McFadden and Bush, a tandem that I think could become one of the leagues best. I'd also like to see the Raiders offense use more intermediate and short passing plays in order to get JaMarcus Russel going early. He's going to have to put up better completion ratio's than the 12-30 he threw up vs. the Chargers, and the key to that will be the 3-step drop quick passes. The last thing the Raiders will need to do to win the ballgame is win the turnover battle. The Raiders lost the turnover battle to the Chargers by one, and ended up losing the game by 4 points, so it makes you wonder what the outcome would have been if they won the T.O. battle, or at least tied?

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