The Raiders had an up-and-down game vs. the 49ers. Here are a few observations:
1) Jared Veldheer looked decent for his first start
He was much better in pass blocking, but got out leveraged at times by Ricky Jean-Francois.
To be honest, he was probably better than Samson Satele, who couldn't pass or run block effectively.
Veldheer does need more experience. The best mike linebacker in the league, Patrick Willis, got through the A gap at least two times unblocked.
2) Darrius Heyward-Bey looked good
Jackson made a point to get it to DHB early.
I was impressed by DHB's last catch. It came right after a drop, showing he can forget his mistakes. Overall, he looked like a guy that can go out and catch 50 balls this season, maybe more depending on how long Schilens is out.
3) Mario Henderson made one horrific "block"
Travis LaBoy isn't the second coming of Lawrence Taylor. Not-so-Super Mario might as well put a paper bag over his face, because that's how bad LaBoy beat him.
This isn't anything new for Jason Campbell, who had to get carted off with a stinger. If you watched the Week 15 game against the Giants, it was probably worse than that play.
4) Gradkowski was sharp
Not only was Grads 14 of 22 for 202 yards, but he also had three blatant drops. Gradkowski made his usual amount of plays, but he also made a handful of very precise throws.
I'm not sure how much we'll lose (if anything) with Gradkowski in the lineup.
5) Hue Jackson didn't use Darren McFadden effectively
There were far too many up the gut runs. Note to Hue: IT DOESN"T WORK!
Trust me, anybody with two eyes can see what is and isn't working. You saw what McFadden could do when he was given the ball in space.
1) McClain hasn't been a difference maker
There's no question who the better mike linebacker in the Bay Area is at this point. And it certainly isn't No. 55.
It's not as if McClain played poorly. He actually made the right reads. At least he's ahead of Kirk Morrison in that category.
He's just not shown any block shedding ability. On a couple of Frank Gore runs up the middle the guard got his hands on McClain, and the number eight overall pick got handled.
Of course, it doesn't help matters when your best lineman was sitting out the game with an injury. Let's hope we can see more of him next week.
2) The secondary was fantastic
This secondary is one of the best in the NFL for a reason. They can cover.
Asomugha was great all night, but was called for a B.S. pass interference call on fourth down-and-one.
Huff had some more issues tackling, but no one can question his coverage ability. He made a bone crunching hit on one third down pass play by Alex Smith.
Stanford Routt had maybe his best game as a Raider. He didn't get beat once, and his timing was spot on.
Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware were both solid as well. I wouldn't be surprised if both make the team.
Let's take it with a grain of salt. The 49ers were missing their two top receiving targets, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis.
3) Lamarr Houston was terrific yet again
Houston got two notable pressures that chased Smith out of the pocket.
At this point, he looks to a better player than the aforementioned McClain.
4) Tommy Kelly is starting to resemble that contract he signed two seasons ago
Kelly is much more quicker and agile than he was a year ago. Maybe the position change to the one technique, really has done him well.
5) Tackling is an issue
Michael huff looked like an amateur tackler again on the 39-yard rush by Frank Gore.
Also, Nnamdi looked extremely tentative on that play, almost like he was contemplating whether he should go after Gore.
The other noticeable play was the run by Anthony Dixon in the second quarter, where the Raiders had him stopped, but Dixon broke through quite easily.
1) The coverage unit looked like crap
I don't know Jon Condo, who usually is a pretty decent long snapper, but on the long return by Phillip Adams, his play was a travesty.
Adams basically ran right up the middle for 83 yards. At least make him work for his yards. I swear, it doesn't hurt to get in front of the man.
2) Seabass looks good
Janikowski looked particularly good on a 57-yard field goal attempt off the dirt.
3) Yamon Figurs didn't help himself
For a guy who wants to make the team as the main return man, he certainly didn't help his cause by fumbling a punt return.
So, there it is folks. Feel free to put any additional thoughts in the comment section.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!