Pick Six: Jarrett Stidham enters first NFL start 'confident' in his abilities

1. Stidham at QB1

The Raiders have decided to start Jarrett Stidham the last two weeks of the season.

This Sunday will mark Stidham's first NFL start, taking on the San Francisco 49ers. Head Coach Josh McDaniels and General Manager Dave Ziegler traded for Stidham this offseason, having previously worked with him for three seasons in New England. In the 11 NFL games Stidham has played in, he's thrown for 342 yards and two touchdowns. In the preseason, he helped the Raiders go 4-0, throwing for 316 yards and compiling two rushing touchdowns.

"I've always been very confident in my abilities to play football and just thankful for the opportunity to come out here and get my first start against the best defense in the league," Stidham told local media Thursday. "But like I said, I've always had confidence in my ability to make plays, throw the football and to facilitate the offense. That's my job, I've worked hard at it."

2. New beginnings

The last regular season game Stidham played in was earlier this season in Week 7. He went 8-of-13 for 72 yards against the New Orleans Saints.

3. Multiple hats

Clelin Ferrell could be in line for more snaps this Sunday, as Chandler Jones was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.

Ferrell made the most of his opportunity last Saturday filling in for Jones, finishing with a tackle for loss and a pass deflection. The former first-round pick has been all over the place in Patrick Graham's defense – seeing action in the interior defensive line and at outside linebacker.

"The good thing about Cle is that he could wear multiple hats," said Graham. "And whenever you've got a guy like that on the edge, that helps you, because it helps you with disguise. It helps you with what you can do defensively. He's really taken hold of just studying and just understanding his role, whether it's in the pass rush, whether it's in the run game, the different positions he's playing. He's really doing a good job being studious and diligent working at it, and I couldn't be happier with that."

4. Purdy tested against the "unique style" of star edge rusher

The San Francisco 49ers have been rolling with Brock Purdy at quarterback, who as a rookie, is still getting his feet wet.

Purdy was the last pick taken in the 2022 NFL Draft, and will see his fourth start this Sunday. The quarterback has stepped up in a big way amid injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, throwing 846 yards and eight touchdowns in his last four games.

"I think he's a good young quarterback," said Clelin Ferrell. "Obviously, he stepped into the role with Jimmy G getting hurt and he's come in and been really, really good for them. And obviously, they're a playoff team so they're rallying behind him. So we've got to go in there, we've got to be ready to handle anything he brings to us."

While the Raiders defense has respect for Purdy, the 49ers quarterback has respect for Pro Bowl edge rusher Maxx Crosby. "The Condor" has been on a tear this season, among the league leaders in tackles for loss and sacks at his position.

"Maxx Crosby is really good on the edge," Brock Purdy told reporters. "So whenever they have a player like that that you have to focus on, they can do a lot of other different things that you can sometimes slip up and not be ready for in terms of what they do with their secondary and their backers and whatnot."

5. All eyes on CMC

A premier player that the Raiders defense must keep track of is running back Christian McCaffrey.

McCaffrey is the ultimate Swiss Army knife of NFL running backs, with the ability to run the ball like an elite rusher, yet run routes and catch like an elite receiver. Since the former All-Pro was traded to the 49ers midseason, he's accumulated 938 total scrimmage yards and eight touchdowns.

The Silver and Black must keep an eye on McCaffrey, considering they've allowed an average of 156 rushing yards their past two games. The defense has allowed 57 receiving yards to running backs in that stretch as well.

6. Last time around...

The Raiders have a 7-7 all-time regular-season record against their rival 49ers. The last time the two met in the regular season was in 2018, with the Silver and Black suffering a 34-3 loss at Levi's Stadium.

The Silver and Black get one last practice in at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center before their Week 17 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers at Allegiant Stadium.

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