The Raiders hit the ground running on Sunday vs. the San Francisco 49ers with a 34-7 blowout in the team’s preseason opener. Head coach Josh McDaniels got inspired effort out of his young players and some veterans competing for a roster spot. The energy on defense paved the way, with fourth-rounder Aidan O’Connell flexing serious potential at quarterback.
Josh McDaniels, Aidan O’Connell, And The Raiders Defense Were Dominant vs. The 49ers
Vegas opted to defer to the second half after winning the coin toss. Patrick Graham’s defense forced a quick three-and-out, including two big-time sacks on Niners’ starter Trey Lance. The Raiders then charged down the field on their opening possession on offense.
Zamir White carried the ball on seven of the ten plays from the drive. He capped it off with a hard-fought one-yard touchdown, putting the Silver and Black ahead early in the contest. The defense continued hounding the San Fran backfield, imposing its will and forcing several miscues by Lance.
The offense hit a couple of snags, thanks to some untimely drops by rookie Tre Tucker. In fact, O’Connell was so dialed in that these two drops accounted for 67 percent of his incompletions on the day.
Even following a fortunate bounce on a should-be interception, the Raiders’ offense remained poised after the Niners knotted things up at 7. O’Connell sliced and diced the opposing secondary, finding veteran Keelan Cole multiple times on the drive, including a short touchdown with only 34 seconds left in the half.
If you thought the good times would end at halftime, I have a pleasant surprise for you. The Silver and Black looked even more lethal in the second half. Daniel Carlson nailed a 53-yard field to start the third quarter, and it was all up from there.
Takeaways Tell The Story On Defense
Soon after, a forced fumble by Curtis Bolton set the Raiders up with excellent field position. And as was the case often on Sunday, O’Connell and the offense took advantage. This time, Sincere McCormick found pay dirt on a two-yard rush up the gut. An already insurmountable lead only increased for Vegas.
The rest of the second half featured a heavy dose of Chase Garbers behind center. Thanks to a rather lucky interception by Sam Webb, and a phenomenal return on top of it, all Garbers had to do was hit McCormick in the flat, making it a second trip to the end zone for the UTSA product.
All in all, the Raiders flexed confidence and hunger, two traits severely lacking from the 2022 roster. The defense came out, punched the Niners in the mouth, and stole their lunch money. Then to add insult to injury, Farva from Super Troopers showed up and bullied them even more. Talk about a rough afternoon for Kyle Shanahan’s squad.
Takeaways on defense and poise from the quarterback is a recipe that works just as well against first-team units as third-stringers. O’Connell will not take over the QB1 role based solely on this performance. But Brian Hoyer should consider searching for a new gig soon because the Purdue Boilermaker has seemingly cemented himself as the primary backup to Jimmy Garoppolo.
The Raiders Remain Undefeated In Preseason Play Under Josh McDaniels
McDaniels has his fair share of critics, and rightfully so. However, the preseason has never been an issue for the Raiders under their current head coach. With a pristine 5-0 record since taking the helm, the fan base now expects this offseason success to translate into wins that actually matter.
It sure feels a lot more likely today than it did yesterday. Optimism is one hell of a drug.
*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images