The Raiders are a Threat. The 49ers? Not So Much
Because San Francisco and Oakland are just 12 miles apart, it’s but natural that a rivalry should arise. However, the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders play in different conferences (NFC West and AFC West, respectively), and this has kept a literal cross-city rivalry from realizing its full potential. This means that when they do meet in the regular season, everyone comes in full force.
The Battle of the Bay, as it is known in NFL circles, has been a tight race since the rivalry started in 1970. The Raiders hold a 7-6 rivalry record over the 49ers, who lost their latest matchup in 2014. Because the two teams were not scheduled to play each other in the 2016 regular season, it seems that both teams’ fans would have to wait a few more years. And, with team owner Mark Davis intent on moving the Raiders to Las Vegas, the rivalry might be in jeopardy at least for the next few years.
This season has been a tale of two teams on opposite ends of the standings. While the Raiders have been, well, raiding the AFC West, ruling the conference with a 10-2 record, the 49ers have been abysmal, managing only a 1-11 record and making everyone second-guess if Colin Kaepernick is no longer the quarterback he used to be.
Another weird, funny thing about this season is that the Raiders’ rise has been nothing but surprising. Since 2003, they have never managed to go above .500 and were always stuck at 3rd or 4th in the AFC West. Will they make it to the Super Bowl? Nothing’s set in stone, but among all other AFC teams, only the New England Patriots have shown consistency in winning. If the Raiders fail to make the Super Bowl this season, they still have a lot of young talent that can give them their first appearance since 2002. Indeed, things are looking up in the East Bay.
Contrast that with the 49ers’ poor performance just a few years removed from a Super Bowl appearance. With Coach Jim Tomsula getting fired and Chip Kelly getting the head coaching post after a losing season with Philadelphia, nobody expected the 49ers to make the playoffs this season. However, no one predicted that they’d go 0-10 after winning their opener against the Rams.
That being said, there isn’t any reason for 49ers fans to be confident about their team’s future. Management doesn’t seem to know what it’s doing, and Kaepernick seems to be a bit distracted.