By Sam McPherson
Bragging rights are on the line Sunday at the Coliseum in Oakland as the San Francisco 49ers come to town—or up Interstate 880, at least—to face the Oakland Raiders. And while the Silver & Black are in a “chase” for the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the 49ers are trying to catch up in the NFC playoff race, while also ignoring the rumors flying about their head coach’s 2015 plans.
Yes, it promises to be a fun day in the East Bay. The good news is the Raiders don’t have a big injury list this week, and they might even have the services of spark plug running back Latavius Murray against the 49ers. That would be great, since Oakland won their only game of the season with Murray exploding for big yardage—and then got hammered 52-0 with the young potential star out of the game with a concussion.
Murray, of course, had the two big TDs against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 12 when the Raiders won their first game in a year. He was a full participant in practice on Thursday after missing the Week 13 game in St. Louis with the concussion symptoms suffered against K.C. at the Coliseum. Expectations will be high for Murray when he takes the field again.
Three players—all on defense and two in the ever-riddled secondary—are questionable for the 49ers game: cornerback Tarell Brown (foot), linebacker Sio Moore (hip) and corner Neiko Thorpe (hand). Each player was limited in workouts on Thursday, and Moore didn’t workout on Wednesday at all. The Raiders finally put corner Carlos Rogers on the season-ending injured reserve, which makes the position so much thinner.
Brown and Thorpe are now in the top three at the position, and even though S.F. quarterback Colin Kaepernick often struggles to hit the broadside of a barn with his throws, the Oakland secondary still needs all the warm bodies it can get for this matchup. As for Moore, he has 88 tackles this year despite missing two games early in the season. With so many potential offensive threats on the 49ers team, the Raiders need Moore at his best on Sunday.
The final three players on the official injury report are doubtful for the game on Sunday, but the worst blow is on the offense line, where tackle Menelik Watson hasn’t practiced all week due to foot and ankle injuries. The 49ers, despite their own injuries and off-the-field problems, have a formidable front seven on defense at times, and if the Raiders are a man down on the offensive line, that doesn’t bode well for Oakland QB Derek Carr.
Oddly, Carr has been sacked only 15 times this year, and that’s impressive for a rookie quarterback who also possesses a 59.3% completion rate and a 14:11 ration on TDs-to-INTs. He’s been smart with his decision making in the pocket, but Oakland still doesn’t want to expose him to the S.F. pass rush any more than is already inevitable.
- Running back Latavius Murray (concussion)
- Cornerback Tarell Brown (foot)
- Linebacker Sio Moore (hip)
- Cornerback Neiko Thorpe (hand)
- Safety Jonathan Dowling (back)
- Tight end Brian Leonhardt (concussion)
- Offensive tackle Menelik Watson (foot/ankle)
For more Raiders news and updates, visit Raiders Central.
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering all things Oakland A’s. His work can be found on a Examiner.com.