The San Francisco 49ers are back on the road this week for a New Year's Day matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. The 49ers are looking for their ninth-consecutive victory after defeating the Washington Commanders last Saturday, 37-20.
"We have our hands full with this team," defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans said. "They have been in a lot of close games. They're a team who's vying for a playoff spot, so we know we're going to get all that they have and we know they're coming out gunning for us, so we have our hands full and we're ready to roll."
For this week's Four Downs, 49ers team reporter Lindsey Pallares and 49ers Spanish insider Jesús Zárate have joined me to break down several storylines ahead of the team's Week 17 contest in Las Vegas. We also answer questions directly from the Faithful exclusive for the 49ers Supporters Club. To get your questions answered, sign up for the 49ers Supporters Club here.
1st Down: Biggest Takeaway from Week 16?
@LindseyLares: Talent in each area
There's no shortage of playmakers on this team, especially on defense. Even on a week where the unit gave up a few more points than they are used to (entering Week 16 it was 15.0 PPG), DeMeco Ryans' unit finds different ways to exhaust teams week in and week out. In Week 16, Nick Bosa unofficially had 3.0 sacks, Jordan Willis came up with a fumble recovery and Jimmie Ward had an interception. It's different names week-to-week, but never a dip in the defensive production. It's been exciting to watch the unit keep it rolling for eight-straight weeks.
The tight end is always really good and sometimes his receiving stats are not there because he does a lot of the dirty work blocking. As of now, he's putting up great numbers. He scored two touchdowns against the Seattle Seahawks and two more vs. the Washington Commanders. He also had six receptions for 120 yards in Week 16. He is arguably the best tight end in the league and he is getting hot at the right moment.
With the 49ers victory over the Commanders, the rookie quarterback became the first quarterback in franchise history to win his first three starts. He's also just the fourth player in 72 years to throw for multiple touchdowns in each of his first three career starts. The only other quarterbacks to do so are Dan Marino, Jay Cutler and Marcus Mariota. Purdy has also received recognition for his impressive start in the NFL, being named the Pepsi Zero Sugar Rookie of the Week for his performance against Washington in Week 16.
2nd Down: Matchup to Watch on Sunday?
Ward's been tasked with following around some of the league's top wideouts for the bulk of the season, and in Week 17, I imagine he will be doing a lot of the same. Davante Adams is the Raiders top receiver, and he's had a good amount of success despite his team not having quite the season they had envisioned. Adams is currently tied with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce for most receiving touchdowns (12) and is top 10 in receiving yards (1,290), so it's going to be a competitive matchup between him and Ward.
The Raiders running back is currently leading his team with 1,539 yards on the ground. Warner has registered 111 tackles, 10 passes defended, 2.0 sacks, one interception and a forced fumble this year. So this should be an awesome matchup with two great players facing each other. Last week, it was very fun watching Warner stop Washington's Brian Robinson on various occasions so this week I'm really looking forward to watching him help the 49ers defense contain Jacobs.
Bosa currently leads the NFL with 17.5 sacks. However, that's not enough for the defensive lineman. After a win over the Commanders last week, he mentioned that he has his eyes set on the 49ers franchise single season record of 19.5 sacks, which was set in the 2012 season. Last week, the Raiders offensive line allowed 3.0 sacks to quarterback Derek Carr, and Bosa will have to take down Jarrett Stidham just two times to tie the franchise record.
3rd Down: What is the 49ers Biggest Strength Heading into Week 17?
@LindseyLares: Momentum heading into the home stretch of the season
I know it's an intangible but riding an eight-game win streak heading into Week 17 fuels an amazing competitive edge. The team has really hit its stride in all three phases, and they're keeping their foot on the gas. The team is taking special care to not underestimate any of the opponents that are coming their way regardless of records or stats. As they prepare for the Raiders, they're mindful of their big playmakers and the 12 one-score games that team has been a part of during the 2022 season.
@JesusZarate87: Defensive line
They have been dealing with injuries all season, and they still find ways to deliver on Sundays with the great depth they have. Now with guys back like Javon Kinlaw and Arik Armstead, this unit looks really solid. You add Nick Bosa, Samson Ebukam, and guys like Charles Omenihu in there and to me it is definitely the best defensive line in football.
@BriMcDonaldTV: Run defense
The 49ers defense hasn't skipped a beat in San Francisco's eight-game win streak. So far this season, the 49ers have only allowed 75.0 rushing yards per game, which is the fewest in the NFL. According to NFL media research, opponents have averaged only 3.3 yards per carry against the 49ers defense in 2022. This week, the 49ers will have to repeat their success against the NFL's leading rusher, Raiders running back Josh Jacobs.
4th Down: What is Your Bold Prediction for the Week 17 Matchup Against the Raiders?
@JesusZarate87: The 49ers defense will not allow Josh Jacobs to run over 75 yards.
@BriMcDonaldTV: Bosa will notch at least 2.5 sacks to become the 49ers single season franchise sack leader.