The Raiders don’t pose many problems defensively with one major exception. Defensive end Maxx Crosby has ascended into the upper echelon of NFL pass rushers during his four very productive seasons in the league.
Sometimes teams and players will talk up opponents with hyperbole and exaggeration, but 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy wasn’t doing that when he placed Crosby up with some of the NFL’s other elite pass rushers.
“He’s one of the best players we faced all year,” Purdy told reporters Thursday in a press conference. “I think Kyle might have mentioned earlier in the week that [Los Angeles Rams DT] Aaron Donald and this guy probably present the most problems.
“He presents problems rushing the passer. He presents problems in the run game. He rushes the passers as well as most of those elite edge rushers in the league. He presents a unique style. He’s hard to get his hands on and in the run game, he’s kind of like [Arizona Cardinals DL] J.J. Watt a little bit in that he can swim around blocks and still make plays. It’s not only that he’s really talented and really good, it’s unconventional, so you don’t see it every week and that does create issues for whoever has to block him, so you have to come up with plans and things you want to try to limit the amount of opportunities he has to exhibit all that stuff.”
Crosby posted 10.0 sacks as a rookie, 7.0 the following year, 8.0 last year, and now has a career-high 11.5 sacks this season. He also leads the league with 19 tackles for loss and has played 96 percent of the Raiders’ defensive snaps.
He is a big, relentless defensive lineman who can wreck the 49ers’ offense despite all the advantages San Francisco will have on offense.
If the 49ers can limit Crosby, they’ll be able to move the ball at will. If Crosby has a big day though, it could prime the Raiders for a pretty sizable upset. San Francisco may not see Crosby much, but he’s absolutely a name to be keenly aware of.