The Raiders dominated the 49ers in their preseason opener. And it all started on defense.
It took three drives for the 49ers to convert for a first down. And the reason was simple – pressure.
In both the first two drives, the 49ers went three-and-out for a total of six plays. Two of the first three were sacks by John Jenkins and a shared sack by Jordan Willias and Isaac Rochell. The second drive ended with pressure resulting in a rushed, errant throw by Trey Lance.
By the end of the game, the Raiders had four sacks, with Amari Burney and Adam Butler each getting sacks as well.
With rookie QB Aidan O’Connell putting together a new flawless performance on the offense, the result was a 34-7 runaway preseason victory to open the preseason for the Raiders.
O’Connell’s performance is a good sign for his future, the performance of the defense gives them hope for right now.
“Everybody looked hungry out there,” said veteran DT John Jenkins. “LIke a pack of hyenas.”
For two days this past week the Raiders defense showed some promise. They were ball hawking to get turnovers in team sessions and getting some good pressure in pass rush drills as well.
After a season in which the team had among the fewest takeaways, including the literal fewest interceptions in the league (6) along with very little inside pressure, they know they must show improvement in those areas this season.
The takeaways were a shared thing for the entire defense. Even the 49ers lone score was on a play that should have been an interception, but it went through Duke Shelley’s hands and was caught off the deflection by tight end Ross Dwelley for the score.
The first actual turnover was on downs with Jordan Willis making the tackle for loss against his former team.
Just before the half, rookie Amari Burney had a pick go through his hands.
The third quarter saw another turnover on downs, this time Neil Farrell Jr led the stonewall at the line on fourth and one. The very next 49ers offensive play, saw the Raiders finally get their hands on a takeaway. Darien Butler was making the tackle and Curtis Bolton flew over to punch the ball out. Azizi Hearn recovered and the Raiders were in business.
It was early in the fourth quarter, on their third opportunity, before the Raiders finally secured an interception. A Brandon Allen pass over the middle went off the hands of the receiver and Sam Webb was there to pick it off. He returned it to the four-yard-line and a few plays later, the for the third time off a turnover, the Raiders would score.
“He pushed off and I was ready for him to catch it and make the tackle and move onto the next play, but it slipped right through his hands and I was prepared,” said Webb on the play. “You know what they say, tip drill. I was prepared and almost scored when I took it back.”
This defense was opportunistic in the joint practices, with four interceptions in 11-on-11s and another four in 7-on-7s. From there it was about seeing it translate from the practice field to the game. One interception, nearly two others, a forced fumble, and two turnovers on downs is a very good day for a defense.