By: Anthony Bertacchi

There’s a running joke between me and some of my friends. We wondered, honestly, what team was going to be the worst between the 49ers and the Raiders going into the 2015 season.

For the last decade the Raiders have been the obvious choice. They drafted poorly (JaMarcus Russell, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Robert Gallery etc…) they had a crazy owner who may or may not have been senile later in life and the stadium that they play in is probably the worst of any professional team in sports.

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There was a sewage leak in 2013 and that may not even be the worst thing about the stadium. Through the grace of God the team went 8-8 for two years in a row in 2010 and 2011. Instead of rewarding the head coach with an extension the team decided to fire both coaches after each year. So long to Tom Cable and goodbye to Hue Jackson. Nevermind the fact that the Raiders’ 16 combined wins was as much as the team had in the four years before that (2006-2009). Nope… Fired!

Then, on the other side of the Bay you had the resurgence of the 49ers. For about eight years the team struggled to win games but acquired talented players in the draft. Vernon David, Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, NaVorro Bowman, Joe Staley and Mike Iupati were all high draft picks that helped propel the 49ers to relevancy. Once Jim Harbaugh came in it was the final piece that made the team whole.

Then, seemingly out of the blue, the perfect storm happened. Jim Harbaugh left. He left in one of the more messy sports divorces we’ve seen. He hated the owner. The owner hated him and the fans were okay with the idea of getting rid of him. It was a messy split but he was leaving the new coach with a ton of talent. After all, the team was in the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013. They’ll be fine.

Not exactly… Everybody left. That’s not an exaggeration. Almost literally, everyone who was talented left the team after Harbaugh left. Patrick Willis retired. Justin Smith retired. Chris Borland retired. Aldon Smith was released and Frank Gore left.

I think one stat sums up how bad the 49ers are now. I said earlier that in 2012 and 2013 they went to the Super Bowl and NFC Championship Game. In those two years the team sent 13 players to the Pro Bowl. Do you know how many of those players are still on the team?

Two.

Only Joe Staley and NaVorro Bowman are still in San Francisco. You can’t lose your coach and eleven stars over the last three years and be good. Nobody drafts that well.

Now the offensive line is terrible, the defense is bad and nobody trusts the quarterback.

Colin Kaepernick, over their last seven games has thrown for only 1200 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions.

On Sunday he threw four interceptions. Not only that but they were bad interceptions. If a ball is tipped or the ball bounces off of the receiver then you can understand that. Bad things happen. No big deal. Take a look at those four interceptions. Here’s pick #1, 2, 3 and 4.

Those first two picks happened after only four passes by Kaepernick. Two passes went to 49ers and two went to Cardinals four touchdowns the other way.

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Tyrann Mathieu, the beneficiary of two of those interceptions, even said the team knew what was coming.

“We knew going into this game that the focus for them was to run the football. Their passing game has just simplified so much, it was easy for us to anticipate routes, get some good breaks on the ball. We started up front, forcing Kaepernick to throw some wild balls. Us on the back-end anticipated some balls and jumped in front of them.”

That’s a bad look.

Switching back to the Raiders for a second…

Last year the Raiders stunk. They started 0-10. Hell, in Week 13 the team lost 52-0 to the St. Louis Rams. Do you know how hard that is to do? Teams usually lighten up in the second half and just run the ball to kill the clock. It’s the professional version of the mercy rule.

Since that beating by the Rams the Raiders have a winning record. Sure, it’s just 4-3 but considering the history of the Raiders it’s something.

And then, everything switched for both teams. On December 7th the Raiders played the 49ers at the O.co Coliseum. The final score was 24-13 Raiders. Nobody thought that would happen and the game wasn’t even that close. Kaepernick looked bad, the 49ers offensive line gave up five sacks and Derek Carr looked like a legitimate NFL quarterback.

Carr has given Raider fans hope. He looks good. He and Amari Cooper look like two Pro Bowl pieces that Oakland can lean on for over a decade. Over the last seven games Carr has thrown for 1574 yards with 12 touchdowns and 2 interceptions and Amari Cooper has more receiving yards so far this year than Odell Beckham Jr., Demaryius Thomas and Brandon Marshall.

These are two teams that are going in opposite directions fast.

What makes it even worse is the fact that, as bad as Kaepernick is, he’s still better than the backup, Blaine Gabbert. That means that unless the 49ers pick up a quarterback like Matt Flynn or Rex Grossman you’re stuck with Kaepernick for the rest of the year. Good luck 49er fans. You’re now the worst team in the Bay Area. That can’t feel good.

 

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