The Oakland Raiders will travel across the Bay Bridge to face their natural geographic rival, the San Francisco 49ers, in the 2010 Battle of the Bay. The Raiders hold a 6-5 advantage over the 49ers in the regular season series since the teams first met in 1970. Although the Raiders fell to the 49ers in the 2010 preseason contest, the slate is wiped clean for the regular season.
The Raiders look to win two in a row for the first time this season when they travel to San Francisco. Despite the 49ers record, the Raiders coaching staff and the players know Sunday's opponent is better and more talented than that record indicates. "They don't look like an 0-5 football team, they look a lot better than that," said TE Zach Miller. "The front seven is really good; the whole defense is a good defense."
Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson has kept his unit focused and prepared this week to play a staunch defense. "They are very good defensive football team," said Coach Jackson. "They are a lot like the Chargers. They play from that same mode. They kind of come after you, they have very good players, their linebacking crew is again somewhat like the Chargers, some of the best in football. Manny Lawson, Takeo Spikes, Patrick Willis, this guy #98, I mean these guys are good. They are not an 0-5 football team."
The Raiders offense is ready to face the formidable 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis. "I think he is one of the best linebackers in the game, able to run sideline to sideline, hits guys, physical, sheds blockers, we need to make sure we get after him and do what we can to contain him," said Miller. RB Rock Cartwright sees the strength of the entire 49ers linebacker corps. "Their linebackers, they definitely fly around to the ball," said Cartwright. "They have Takeo Spikes, 13-year vet that knows the game in and out. They definitely have what they need to win the football game. Like I said we have to match their intensity this week, that's the main thing."
While the offense focuses on Willis and Spikes, et al, the Raiders defense will contend with a strong runner in Frank Gore, an emerging veteran tight end in Vernon Davis, and a fast return game with Ted Ginn, Jr. "I think he [Gore] has that rare combination of speed and power," said Head Coach Tom Cable. "He's not a great big guy by any means, but a strong runner and he's a finisher."
Coach Cable continued by speaking on the skills of Ginn, Jr. "Ted is so fast," said Coach Cable. "He's a guy that you have to corral, you have to put a number of helmets around him, you have to contain him, you have to squeeze him when he has the football. You have to get him on the ground because if he gets out, you're probably not going to catch him."
The Raiders have studied the 49ers tendencies throughout the week, but spent most of the time focusing on themselves. "I always tell our players is that it's not really about who we are playing, it's more about us," said Coach Jackson. "You know how we prepare, how we go to the game, and what our determination and desire to go win a football game. I think that regardless of what we face on Sunday that we're going to come out and play well."
This tilt with the 49ers is more than just personnel match ups and a win or loss. To the players, the Battle of the Bay is more than just a game. "It's extra," said WR Johnnie Lee Higgins. "It's a game plus. Bragging rights, king of the Bay." Miller agreed with Higgins. "We want to make sure we have those bragging rights for a while," he said.
For WR Louis Murphy, the Battle of the Bay is reminiscent of some of his big-time college games. "This is a Florida-Florida State game for me," said Murphy. "It's Florida-Miami. It's an intense game for me. It's the Battle of the Bay, can't take nothing away from it."
The players are looking forward to taking on their Bay Area rivals and taking home the bragging rights. "This is a great rivalry for the Bay," said QB Bruce Gradkowski. "Two good football teams face each other. It's exciting and we're looking forward to it and it'll be a good game."