s
s
Sections
Search
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
X

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Login

X

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

LoginSubscribe

SANTA CLARA — It was the Battle of the Bay. The Battle of the Basement Dwellers. The Battle of the Two Worst Teams in the NFL — the 49ers and the Raiders. Both teams had just one win coming into the game.

And yet, they played like total opposites Thursday night at Levi’s Stadium.

The 49ers won 34-3. They took care of business at home, played a clean game (no turnovers, only three penalties) and prepared a young backup quarterback, Nick Mullens, who may be the starter the rest of the season.

The Raiders quit. Or seemed to. Their defense gave up 405 total yards — a whopping 7.5 per play. And they allowed 143 yards on the ground. The entire team seemed disinterested in physical competition.

The 49ers were eager to fight. And Mullens was their star. He completed 16 of 22 passes (73 percent), threw for 262 yards and tossed three touchdowns and zero interceptions. His quarterback rating was 151.9 — almost perfect. A flawless quarterback rating is 158.3.

Who IS this guy?

“Our secret weapon,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said with a wicked smile after the game. “He didn’t surprise us. The game is not too big for Nick. He is poised and always locked in. That’s why the guys all respect him. He didn’t know whether he was going to start until today. The way he handled the two days of long walk-throughs, he’s a machine. I’m happy for him.”

And the way Mullens played against the Raiders, he very well could start the 49ers’ upcoming game against the New York Giants.

“Yeah, we’ll definitely consider it,” Shanahan said.

Duh.

Mullens started in place of second-year quarterback C.J. Beathard, who banged his wrist last Sunday against Arizona Cardinals linebacker Josh Bynes’ helmet. Beathard has had trouble gripping a football since then. Two hours before kickoff Thursday night, the 49ers decided not to play Beathard. He has lost six starts in a row dating back to last season.

Considering how well Mullens played against the Raiders and how poorly Beathard played during his past six starts, why didn’t Shanahan make the quarterback switch sooner?

“Because I don’t put all the struggles on C.J.,” Shanahan said. “There are 11 guys on offense. There are 53 guys on our team. I thought our team had our best game of the year so far. That’s nothing against C.J. I think he would have played well tonight, too.”

Mullens had never taken a regular-season snap. This was his first career start. “I think I’m here for a reason,” he said afterward. “This was my opportunity to prove I can play.”

Mullens played like a veteran. He threw a touchdown pass in each of his first two drives. The first touchdown pass was a 24-yard completion to wide receiver Pierre Garcon, and the second touchdown pass was a four-yard completion to wide receiver Kendrick Bourne. Both receivers were wide open when they scored. The Raiders weren’t even in the same zip code.

“We have to find a way to start games better,” said Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. “We have to eliminate the big plays, stop the run somehow. We have to stop the bleeding.”

Three-time Pro Bowl Raiders quarterback Derek Carr threw zero touchdown passes in the first half. He seemed skittish, like a quarterback making his first career start. The 49ers sacked him four times before halftime.

“A very frustrating night,” Carr said. “I mean, that was terrible. That’s not good. I wish I had more to tell you.”

The 49ers led 17-3 when the third quarter began, and they got the ball first. On the second play of their drive, Mullens threw a dangerous pass over the middle into heavy coverage. The pass was intended for tight end George Kittle, who reached out his left arm, snagged the ball with one hand and sprinted 71 yards to the Raiders’ six-yard line.

“I closed my eyes 100 percent,” Kittle explained. “I just stuck an arm out there. As I kept running, I could not believe I was still up.”

Two plays later, Mullens rolled to his left and tossed a five-yard touchdown pass to Kittle. The 49ers led 24-3. Kittle finished the game with 108 receiving yards.

The Raiders got the ball back at their 25-yard line. On the second play of their drive, Carr got sacked for the fifth time. Dekoda Watson took him down. The Raiders went three and out. They couldn’t protect their quarterback.

The 49ers protected Mullens just fine. He never got sacked. The Raiders touched him only once. The 49ers’ blocking was superb, and not just in the passing game.

With 9:28 remaining in the third quarter, the 49ers’ offensive line opened a giant hole for running back Raheem Mostert, who cruised 52 yards for an easy touchdown. Mostert gave the 49ers a 31-3 lead and put the Raiders away. But he broke his arm later in the third quarter and will probably miss the rest of the season.

Carr stayed in for two more drives and got sacked once more. He took six sacks total. Carr finished with 171 passing yards and a quarterback rating of 95.1. He completed 16 of 21 passes — 76 percent. But most of his passes were dinks and dunks that posed no threat to the 49ers’ defense. The Raiders removed Carr from the game with 11:45 remaining in the fourth quarter.

“We were clearly behind and wanted to make sure we took care of Derek,” Gruden said.

The Raiders’ record now is 1-7. The 49ers’ record is 2-7. Years from now, the next time these teams play each other during the regular season, the Raiders will belong to Las Vegas, and the Bay Area will belong to the 49ers.

“We have been here the longest,” Shanahan said. “And we never left.”

The 49ers won the battle and the war.

Show Comment