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ALAMEDA

The 49ers are currently 3-10. But when their coach, Kyle Shanahan, addressed the media Monday, it sounded like end-of-semester office hours with your most laid-back professor. Shanahan talked about how much he missed “NFL Countdown” with Chris Berman and Tom Jackson, and joked about keeping the identity of his starting quarterback secret until kickoff. (It’s the great Jimmy Garoppolo, silly!)

The Raiders, meanwhile, are a middling 6-7 and clinging to hope of a postseason berth. But expectations are a rabid jackal sometimes, and this one is baring its teeth at the Raiders.

So when Oakland coach Jack Del Rio did his version of the Monday presser, about an hour before Shanahan’s, it was not chipper, or relaxed, or fun. Del Rio sat at the podium, Raiders background draped behind him, and set his jaw.

This is how Del Rio began: “All right, here’s what I know: As players and coaches, we are as frustrated and pissed off about what occurred yesterday as you can be, as anybody out there is. Losing a game like that hurts. And there are no words that I can say here today that are going to take away that pain or make those that care about the Raiders feel better. So I’m really not going to try.”

And he didn’t. We have seen glib Jack Del Rio when the Raiders are on a winning streak, and evasive Jack Del Rio when he’s not sure which hand to play. But this was Del Rio at his realest. This is not the time for obfuscation, and it’s certainly not the time for cockiness. Judging by my Twitter feed yesterday afternoon, Raiders fans are eagerly turning on Del Rio and his staff. It will only get worse if and when the Raiders are eliminated from playoff contention.

Having sat on my couch and used the sacred remote to toggle back and forth between Raiders-Chiefs and 49ers-Texans on Sunday morning, I’m ready to make another comparison: The Niners are the better team.

I don’t mean that the 49ers were better than the Raiders in Week 14, when San Francisco beat a not-very-good team in Houston and Oakland got stomped by a weirdly ineffective team in Kansas City. That’s a no-brainer.

No, I mean that if they played at a neutral site this weekend, I’d expect the 49ers to win. It’s a proposition that would have sounded outlandish after two weeks of the season. So how did this happen? Here are three explanations:

1) The 49ers have a better defense.

Granted, this isn’t exactly a computer analysis of the 1985 Bears vs. the 2000 Ravens. Both Bay Area defense have their issues.

But the SF defense is improving. It might even be, dare I say it, solid at the moment. And that’s after an express lane to the injured reserve that has claimed people like linebacker Malcolm Smith, defensive end Arik Armstead, and defensive backs Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward.

Coordinator Robert Saleh has cut dead weight and repackaged players in different roles, and his young defense plays with obvious passion. Holding consecutive opponents to a total of 30 points and 458 yards is an accomplishment — even if those opponents are the Bears and the Texans.

The Raiders defense? About the same as you remember it last year. Then it was vilified. Now fans are more focused on the listless offense. But the defense remains unreliable. Yeah, there have been some positive signs since John Pagano replaced Ken Norton Jr. as coordinator in Week 12; Khalil Mack and Bruce Irving are a formidable pass-rush combo. But there were missed tackles galore in Kansas City. Strong safety Karl Joseph looked like he was playing on the snow field in Buffalo, while Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was moving and cutting just fine.

2) The 49ers have better coaches.

As stated, Pagano is probably an upgrade on the defensive side. But Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing is part of the 2017 tragedy. Last year’s explosive offense, which was coordinated by Bill Musgrave, is nowhere to be seen. The ’17 Raiders look predictable, out of rhythm and frequently stagnant. And it isn’t getting better.

“I’ve said it before: ‘Hey, put it on me,’ ” Del Rio noted Monday. “It always comes back to the head coach, anyway, ultimately.”

And Raider Nation is happy to oblige. There’s a common perception that Del Rio is a positive influence when it comes to instilling attitude. But when the X’s and O’s aren’t spelling anything good, he’s not the guy to roll up his sleeves and fix it.

Here’s an assignment for you: Name some young Raiders players who have shown significant improvement over the course of the 2017 season. Umm, maybe defensive tackle Denico Autry? Or linebacker Nicholas Morrow? But has it been a steady incline for either of them?

It certainly has down in Santa Clara for guys like safety Adrian Colbert, wide receiver Trent Taylor and even quarterback C.J. Beathard before he got hurt. Shanahan’s staff is developing its talent. Del Rio’s is plugging in and praying.

3) The 49ers have a better quarterback.

This one hurts, doesn’t it, East Bay? After leading the Niners to back-to-back wins in his first two starts here, Jimmy Garoppolo is practically being wedged between Joe Montana and Steve Young in the pantheon. NFL defenses will almost certainly offer a counterpunch. But Garoppolo has truly been stellar in his small sample size, hanging in the pocket with pressure in his face and showing an ability to lead receivers in stride.

Meanwhile, something is terribly wrong with Derek Carr. We just don’t know what it is.

Many are speculating that Carr’s back still isn’t right after he fractured his transverse process against the Broncos in Week 4. But there’s no denying that if the NFL had a Most Disappointing Player award, Carr would be a top candidate in 2017.

He is getting rid of the ball more quickly than any other quarterback in the league, and has been incredibly ineffectual on deep throws. According to the scouting site Pro Football Focus, Carr is 15 of 53 on passes of 20-plus yards downfield in 2017, ranking 30th in the league with a 58.6 passer rating. He has the look of a man who has lost faith in his offensive line and his receiving corps.

I asked Del Rio if that were the case. He said it wasn’t just Carr who is suffering a crisis of confidence.

“I think that there have been many examples throughout this season where we have not played boldly to go make the plays,” Del Rio said. “I would really like to see that. Because at the end of the day, if you kind of go halfway, it’s not good enough anyway. So I’d love to see us just let it rip, OK? And go play.”

Just don’t go play against the 49ers, coach. Because they would probably beat you, and it might be more than your frustrated fan base could handle.

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