The Raiders will be happy to forget the final “Battle of the Bay.”
Oakland fell 34-3 to San Francisco in what was another poor showing for the Jon Gruden-led squad at Levi’s Stadium.
But, for the 49ers and fill-in starting quarterback Nick Mullens, their second victory couldn’t have come at a better time as they gear up for their last seven games.
That and more from the 49ers’ win over the Raiders.
Nick Mullens, who?
No one is asking that anymore after the 49ers quarterback led the team to their second victory of the season.
The former practice squad signal-caller got the starting nod in place of an injured C.J. Beathard (wrist), who took the place of starter Jimmy Garoppolo (knee). He showed what he could do on the opening possession of San Francisco’s 31-point victory.
Mullens’ first regular-season NFL drive ended with an 11-yard touchdown pass to cap off a six-play, 75-yard drive. The Southern Mississippi alum went a perfect 3 for 3 during that possession. He followed it up with another touchdown, this time a 4-yarder, and put together three more scoring drives, to boot.
A perfect first drive for @NickMullens ends with a TD pass to @PierreGarcon! #GoNiners #OAKvsSF
?: @nflnetwork + @NFLonFOX
?+?: https://t.co/DJUityQHC9 pic.twitter.com/0y5WPtK6BL
He is one of only two quarterbacks since 2000 to throw a touchdown pass on each of his team’s first two possessions in his NFL debut. He joins Marcus Mariota, who accomplished that feat in 2015.
Mullens finished 16-of-22 passing for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Here’s how he compared to other notable 49ers’ starters:
Notable #49ers debuts as starter:
• 36 pass yards, 0 pass TD
• 80 pass yards, 1 pass TD
• 262 pass yards, 3 pass TD
We aren’t saying it’s a thing but…
Oakland’s season is all but over
Gruden didn’t envision his return to Oakland including a 1-7 record with some of the worst performances in the NFL, but here he is. Nothing seems to be going the Raiders’ way this season.
“I know it’s not looking pretty right now,” Gruden admitted after the game.
What’s worse is that quarterback Derek Carr hasn’t been that bad.
Carr has completed 72 percent of his passes through eight weeks, including a 72.7-percent completion rate for 171 yards against San Francisco. But, along with his 10 touchdowns, he has thrown eight interceptions and been sacked 24 times. He has had little help versus the pass rush and is playing with an offensive line that gave up eight sacks Thursday. Carr was brought down seven times and Raiders backup AJ McCarron, who finished the game, was sacked once.
It’s going to be a tough road ahead for Gruden, Carr and the rest of the silver and black.
Sure, a win is a win
Yes, the 49ers beat the Raiders. But, both teams entered Thursday’s game struggling — and struggling mightily.
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The victory was impressive considering the only playing time Mullens had a year ago was on the practice squad. But, against Oakland — which has the worst run defense in the league in yards allowed per game (144.7) and the 10th worst passing defense in yards allowed per game (263) — the feat isn’t a season changer.
The real test for San Francisco will be if it can build on its success against the Raiders. The 49ers will face the Giants, also a struggling team who is just 1-7, before taking on the Buccaneers, Seahawks and Broncos. They’ll have a chance to pick up some momentum versus New York before traveling to Tampa Bay.
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