Raiders offensive coordinator praises playing former cross-town rivals in Week 17

Dec 30, 2022, 11:00 AM | Updated: 11:37 am
Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers call for the snap during the game against the Las Vegas Ra...
SANTA CLARA, CA - AUGUST 29: Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers call for the snap during the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Levi's Stadium on August 29, 2021 in Santa Clara, California. The 49ers defeated the Raiders 34-10. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

For 45 years, the Raiders and 49ers franchises divided the Bay Area. The Silver & Black took the East Bay, residing in Oakland. While the Red & Gold took the West, moving from the city of San Francisco to Santa Clara in 2014.

Despite the proximity, the two rivals have only shared the same field 14 times in history, last meeting in 2018 at Levi’s Stadium. In that game, the 49ers thrashed the Raiders, 34-3, after quarterback Nick Mullens went off for four touchdown passes.

Now four years removed from their latest showdown, both teams are in different spots this season. The 49ers are surging to the playoffs on an eight-game winning streak, while the Raiders just benched longtime starter, Derek Carr.

Despite the obvious differences, both teams seem up to the challenge this weekend, wanting to get one more hooray over their former rivals. To do that, Vegas will need to figure out how to move the ball on the stout 49ers’ defense. A team that, according to them, is fundamentally sound all over the field thanks to defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.

“I think fundamentals, really. Coach [DeMeco] Ryans, obviously took over for Coach [Robert] Saleh back in 2021 and he’s really done a phenomenal job in terms of teaching fundamentals,” Raiders offensive coordinator Mike Lombardi said earlier in the week. “They’re fundamentally sound, they play fast, they play hard. Their effort is one of the best in the league and I think it shows up in situational football. They’re top in the league in pretty much almost every category. I mean, the scheme, it is what it is, they play a certain number of things, but they play it well and they make sure they’re all connected. I think that’s the biggest thing, they’re all connected in terms of their adjustments, how they align, how they adjust to different formations. Like I said, this is one of the better defenses we played all season and we got to be ready to go because they play physical, they play fast, they can rush the passer, they can stop the run, and they can cover. I mean, their back end is doing a really good job in terms of coverage. They make you earn every yard. The longest run all season is 25 yards versus Kansas City. So, I mean, they’re doing a really good job in terms of all levels of football with a back end, linebackers, front seven. I mean, they do a really, really good job. Set the edge, get up the field. I can’t speak highly enough about how Coach Ryan just coaches this unit and where they’re at right now.”

One of the reasons the 49ers’ unit performs at a high level is because of their two stud linebackers, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw.

Both men have been tackling machines in 2022, with Greenlaw leading the team at 119 tackles on the season. Their ability to run sideline-to-sideline is what scares the raiders the most, allowing all other players and schemes to mesh within the defense.

“The linebackers have great speed. They have great movement skills, they work laterally, they play downhill. So, to answer your question, that gives them the ability to play different coverages and match safeties on different people and make sure they feel comfortable at the halfback matchup on linebacker,” Lombardi continued. “And they can play their scheme and they don’t have to really adjust and put a safety on a halfback or whatever it is because they feel comfortable with their guys adjusting to the coverage.”

On the flip side, San Francisco heads into the New Year’s Day clash as 10-point favorites on the road, with most expecting a lopsided ninth-straight win for the visitors. Despite the outside noise, the Red & Gold are using the final two weeks of the. regular season to work on stuff internally.

That starts with not taking their former rivals lightly.

“With the Raiders, I do see a very dangerous team because they have playmakers all over the field,” DeMeco Ryans stated Thursday. “You talk about their big three, they have guys who can really take over games and we still have our hands full no matter who’s at quarterback. We still have our hands full with this team. They have been in a lot of close games. They’re a team who’s vying for a playoff spot, so we know we’re going to get all that they have and we know they’re coming out gunning for us, so we have our hands full and we’re ready to roll.”

Click here to watch DeMeco Ryans full Thursday presser


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Raiders offensive coordinator praises playing former cross-town rivals in Week 17