Head coach Jim Harbaugh’s job is in jeopardy, and the San Francisco 49ers have four games left in the regular season to make the playoffs and keep their coach in town. Following a crushing 19-3 Thanksgiving loss to Seattle, San Francisco dropped out of the postseason standings and sit two games back in the NFC West.
Any heroics or come back performance will have to start across the bay against the 1-11 Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum Sunday afternoon.
Several reports surfaced following the loss to Seattle stating Harbaugh could earn a contract extension if he leads the team to the postseason for the fourth straight year. But falling short of that goal might lead the 49ers to trade Harbaugh with one year and $5 million remaining on his contract after this season.
Recent history in the Battle of the Bay tips Week 14’s matchup heavily in Harbaugh and San Francisco’s favor. The all-time series is tied at 6-6, but San Francisco has won the last five games, though the last was in 2010 before Harbaugh joined up.
The 49ers will specifically look to get the offense back on track after Seattle held them to a field goal, and forced them to punt on five of their first six possessions. The performance dropped San Francisco’s scoring average to 19.3 points per game this season, No. 25 in the league, while quarterback Colin Kaepernick endured the worst start of his career.
In his fourth year, but second full season as the regular starter, Kaepernick went 16-for-29 for 121 yards and two interceptions for a career-worst passer rating of 36.7. He hasn’t received much help from veteran running back Frank Gore of late either. Gore hasn’t breached the end zone in three straight games, and in the last two is registering 2.8 yards per carry.
With Oakland boasting the ninth best pass defense in the league, it’s unlikely Kaepernick will unleash a barrage of touchdowns, but both he and Gore could feast on the Raiders No. 27 rush defense.
The Raiders are also coming off a miserable 52-0 blowout loss to St. Louis, during which they let up 172 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground. The game also marked a low point for rookie quarterback Derek Carr, who was eventually pulled in favor of veteran Matt Schaub after tossing two interceptions and garnering a 50.5 passer rating.
In Carr’s defense, he’s had no help from the Raiders backfield for the majority of the season. The Raiders roll out the worst rushing attack in the NFL with 72.5 yards per game, and have scored only four touchdowns. Oakland’s leading rusher is Darren McFadden, who’s picking up 3.3 yards per carry.
However Oakland was forced to sit second-year running back Latavius Murray since he didn’t pass the league’s concussion protocol before the matchup with St. Louis. CSN Bay Area reported that Murray was cleared to play this week and participated some in practice Wednesday.
In the first half of Oakland’s only victory of the season, Murray busted out for 112 yards and two touchdowns off a mere four attempts against the Chiefs. But the concussion knocked him out the game early.
Start Time: 4:25 P.M. ET
TV Channel: FOX
Point Spread: San Francisco -8
Over/Under: 41 points
Prediction: San Francisco over Oakland, 24-10