Five 49ers to watch vs. Raiders in Week 17 showdown in Vegas originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The 49ers head into their New Year’s Day matchup with an eye on the NFC's No. 2 playoff seed, which means there's no letting off the gas now.
The Las Vegas Raiders still are on the postseason bubble with a 6-9 record, giving them something to play for, even after quarterback Derek Carr was benched earlier in the week.
Quarterback Jarrett Stidham will make his first career NFL start for the Raiders after being selected by the New England Patriots in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The Baylor product spent his first three seasons with the Patriots before being traded to the Raiders in May.
The Raiders are dealing with a bevy of injuries, including placing defensive end Chandler Jones, linebacker Denzel Perryman and cornerback Rock Ya-Sin all on injured reserve this week. Still, they will not go down without a fight in this old-school rivalry that used to be part of Bay Area culture.
Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans knows that no matter who is on the field, it will be a battle. The 49ers have dealt with their own injury woes and been able to keep the momentum rolling.
“It’s part of the league,” Ryans said Thursday. “It happens. It’s no different if a guy gets injured, it’s just how you have to prepare for the next guy. So it’s next man up for those guys.”
Here are five 49ers to watch in the Week 17 matchup at Allegiant Stadium:
5. LB Dre Greenlaw
Greenlaw leads the 49ers with 119 tackles on the season, including three for a loss. The Arkansas product also has forced two fumbles, recovered two, broken up six passes and recorded an interception.
Greenlaw could take advantage of the Raiders' inexperienced quarterback relying heavily on the run game. While Greenlaw can stop the run between the hashes, his speed also allows him to cover sideline to sideline. This could include stopping Raiders tight end Darren Waller.
4. DE Nick Bosa
The star pass rusher has racked up an NFL-leading 17.5 sacks on the season and has his eyes on Aldon Smith’s single-season franchise sack record of 19.5. Bosa, like Greenlaw could take advantage of the inexperience of Stidham on the field.
The return of Javon Kinlaw and high level of play by defensive tackle Arik Armstead against the run could force more pass-rush opportunities for Bosa. Still, Bosa enjoys being heavily involved in the group’s run defense
3. QB Brock Purdy
It seems that there is nothing that can ruffle the 49ers' rookie quarterback. Purdy has had incredible pocket awareness and has made few mistakes in his four appearances under center while keeping the club’s eight-game winning streak alive.
Of course, all eyes still will be on the young play-caller to see how he acts if he does face adversity in Las Vegas. How far can Purdy take the star-studded 49ers this season? With Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell set to return in the coming weeks, Purdy will have even more weapons at his disposal.
2. RT Mike McGlinchey
Jones and Perryman are on IR but McGlinchey still will be facing one-man wrecking crew Maxx Crosby, who was runner-up for Defensive Rookie of the Year when Nick Bosa won the title back in 2019. Crosby, like Bosa, has continued to get better with time.
Crosby has racked up 11.5 sacks on the season and leads the league with 19 tackles for a loss. The edge rusher has also broken up four passes, forced three fumbles and racked up 33 quarterback hits.
McGlinchey has not allowed a sack in his last seven appearances and has arguably been playing his best football since being selected by the 49ers in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
1. CB Charvarius Ward
Ward has stood up to every challenge he has faced in his first season with the 49ers. After Emmanuel Moseley suffered a season-ending knee injury, the Middle Tennessee State product started following the opposing team’s top receivers.
Things won’t get any easier for Ward as he will line up across from All-Pro Davante Adams on Sunday. The Bay Area native already has registered 88 catches for 1290 yards and a league-leading 12 touchdown reception.
Maybe one thing going against Adams, who arguably is one of the most dynamic receivers in the NFL, is that he will be on the field with Stidham, who is making his first NFL start. The backup quarterback, however does have experience in Josh McDaniels' system, having spent three seasons in New England.