SANTA CLARA — It's the “Battle of the Bay” on Sunday and boy, oh boy, are the 49ers frothing at the mouth in the days before they play those hated Raiders.
Huh? They're not?
“It is a rivalry, but it's more so for the fans than the players,” said Niners offensive lineman Barry Sims, who played for the Raiders from 1999-2007. “... From the fans' point of view it's the Battle of the Bay. (For us) it's just another good opponent that just happens to be right next door.”
Asked if he hated the Raiders, 49ers wide receiver Josh Morgan laughed, “Nah,” he said. “I don't hate anybody. We feel energy, but we basically let all that stuff show on Sunday.”
Oakland vs. San Francisco, despite the proximity, is not recognized as one of the NFL's celebrated rivalries — in large part because the teams meet so infrequently. Sunday's game at Candlestick Park will mark just the fourth meeting since 1995.
Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky used to get emotional about facing the Raiders, but that was when he played linebacker for the Chiefs from 1994-99. Oakland and Kansas City, franchises that have met 102 times since 1960, have one of the league's most bitter rivalries.
“When I was in Kansas City all of those years, it was Raider Week,” Manusky said. “That's what (former Chiefs coach) Marty (Schottenheimer) would always say: It's Raider Week.”
This is Raider Week for the 0-5 Niners, but the focus is more on getting a win.
In its 27-24 loss to the Eagles on Sunday, San Francisco scored its most points of the season, had three touchdowns in three trips inside the red zone, had two 100-yard receivers for the first time in 10 years and had its highest third-down conversion rate (8 of 13, 61 percent) in seven years.
New offensive coordinator Mike Johnson, after his second game at the controls, said the Niners are slowly tweaking the offense — a unit that was viewed as archaic under Jimmy Raye.