The San Francisco 49ers are set to face the Las Vegas Raiders for a New Years Day matchup. The last time the former cross-city rivals faced each other was in 2018 where San Francisco finished with a 34-3 win over the black and silver at Levi's® Stadium.
Fast forward to the teams' first contest of 2023, and Las Vegas has made some significant roster moves ahead of the Week 17 game. Here's a look at what to expect from the Raiders on Sunday:
- Las Vegas is benching quarterback Derek Carr in Week 17, the team's starting quarterback since 2014.
- Quarterback Jarrett Stidham will make his first-career start against the 49ers and undrafted rookie free agent Chase Garbers will serve as backup.
- The Raiders have placed their All-Pro defensive end Chandler Jones and Pro Bowl linebacker Denzel Perryman on the team's Injured Reserve list.
- On Wednesday, Las Vegas signed former Cleveland Browns defensive end Isaac Rochell and former Denver Broncos linebacker Harvey Langi to their active roster.
Despite the Raiders season record, San Francisco should prepare for a high-powered offense in their first-ever trip to Allegiant Stadium. The Las Vegas offense is ranked 12th in the league and Stidham will have veteran offensive weapons to help him out in his first-career start. All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams is tied for first in the league with 12 receiving touchdowns and fourth-year Pro Bowl running back Josh Jacobs leads the NFL with 1,539 rushing yards and 1,908 scrimmage yards.
"I know he (Stidham) is a talented thrower," head coach Kyle Shanahan said. "He can make every throw similar to Carr in that way, but he hasn't been out there a lot, so hopefully we'll confuse him. Make it tough for him."
Meanwhile, the 49ers defense remains the top dog in the league. Opponents have averaged 3.3 yards per carry and just 22.5 carries per game against San Francisco – the fewest in the NFL. According to NFL media research, in each of the 49ers eight-consecutive wins, the defense has held opponents to fewer than 80 rushing yards (a total of 488 rushing yards allowed since Week 8). Last week against the Washington Commanders, defensive lineman Nick Bosa registered 2.0 sacks, which gave him a career and NFL-high 17.5 sacks on the season.
As for Las Vegas, the Raiders D-Line, headlined by Pro Bowl edge rusher Maxx Crosby, has notched a total of 25.0 sacks on the season. Kyle Shanahan may look to get Christian McCaffrey, Jordan Mason and Tyrion Davis-Price involved in the passing game as Las Vegas has allowed 732 receiving yards to running backs this season, the most in the NFL, and allowed a total of 34 first down receptions to RBs, tied for the most in the league.
"Their defensive end in Crosby is playing as probably the second-best defensive player in the league," Shanahan said. "I think he's been unbelievable, they've got some guys who can wreck games and you better be on your stuff regardless."
As the 49ers work to close out the regular season on a high note, they understand that the Raiders are no easy team to beat.
"I see some great players who can beat you," Shanahan said. "That's why I think they've had a chance in so many games this year and they have been close. They're just a few the ball bouncing a different way to be locked in as a playoff team right now."