49ers' top-ranked defense major challenge for new Raiders QB

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Kyle Shanahan remembers being impressed with Raiders quarterback Jarrett Stidham at the 2019 Senior Bowl. The San Francisco 49ers coach knows little else about Las Vegas' new starter.

Stidham is a big unknown for the 49ers, who rank first in the NFL in scoring and total defense and figure to be a substantial challenge for a quarterback making his first career start.

The Raiders will start Stidham the final two weeks, including Sunday when San Francisco visits, in place of the benched Derek Carr.

“He can make every throw similar to Carr,” Shanahan said. "But he hasn’t been out there a lot, so hopefully we’ll confuse him (and) make it tough for him.”

The change at quarterback is a signal the Raiders are moving on from Carr and looking at the big picture with the playoffs all but out of reach. That's not the case for the 49ers, who have clinched the NFC West and can still move up from the No. 3 seed.

Las Vegas coach Josh McDaniels hopes inserting Stidham will revive an offense that has sputtered over the past month as the Raiders have gone 2-2, losing twice in the final minute to the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers.

McDaniels also coached Stidham in New England the previous three seasons when he was the Patriots offensive coordinator.

“He’s prepared like he’s playing every week since he’s been in the NFL,” McDaniels said. "Giving him a full week of seeing how this affects his preparation, his practice, his performance on Sunday, I think is a good starting point for him. But I expect him to be ready to go like he’s always been.”

NO HARD FEELINGS?

After getting only 15 carries in Saturday night’s 13-10 loss at Pittsburgh, Raiders running back Josh Jacobs let it be known he wasn’t thrilled with the play-calling.

“Especially when you’re up against a team like this in the cold, you’ve got to run the ball,” Jacobs said after the game.

McDaniels said he wasn’t bothered by Jacobs’ comments, noting other players have been vocal this season as well after losses in expressing their disappointment.

“Hell, I wasn’t real excited after the game either, and so I think the reality is you’re allowed to be frustrated,” McDaniels said. “JJ expressed his feelings, and it is what it is. You’re going to have that at times. But I’ve said this a number of times: I love the guy and I think he stands for the right things. He wants to help us win, and he should, and he has.”

Jacobs was asked Wednesday about the response to what he said.

“I told the truth,” Jacobs said. “If people felt some type of way about it, I don’t really care.”

RIVALRY RENEWED

The former Bay Area rivals will meet for the first time since the Raiders moved to Las Vegas in 2020. Their last meeting came in 2018 when the Niners won 34-3. San Francisco won five of the nine meetings when the Raiders were based in Oakland, while the Raiders had a 3-2 edge during their time in Los Angeles.

“It’s not really hostile with us,” Niners tackle Mike McGlinchey said. “But I know it gets hostile between San Francisco natives and Oakland natives. It’s a very passionate rivalry. It’s something that you don’t see often because of the way the conferences align. But certainly a lot of smack talking between locals in the Bay Area.”

OFF THE EDGE

The game features two of the best edge rushers in the NFL in San Francisco’s Nick Bosa and Las Vegas’ Maxx Crosby. Bosa leads the league with 17½ sacks, while Crosby ranks first with 19 tackles for loss.

“He’s as good of a player as we faced all year,” McGlinchey said said of Crosby. “He certainly presents a lot of problems for a lot of people. ... He’s probably as close to the guy that we got as we’ll see. It’s going to be a fun task.”

A QUICK RISER

Las Vegas linebacker Luke Masterson went from undrafted free agent to spending half the season almost exclusively on special teams to a starter with back-to-back games of double-digit tackles.

The journey, he acknowledged, was something he didn't expect.

“I was just trying to really earn a role in special teams at first, and then as stuff happened, obviously got a little more opportunity,” Masterson said. “But I'm still trying to earn (a role) every day.”

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AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow in Santa Clara, Calif., contributed to this report.

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