October 31 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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Expect a passing frenzy when the 49ers cross the bay to face the Oakland Raiders this week. The 49ers run defense has been on top of its game recently. Itís dismantled some of the top runners in the league. Stopping the shifty Charlie Garner, and his average of more than six yards a carry wont be easy, but thatís not where the focus of this game will be.
Both teams have a very strong receiving core with Pro Bowl calibre quarterbacks. Balls will by flying on Sunday. The 49ers will be trying to exploit a depleted Raider secondary, and as much as theyíll want to establish the run, with the way that Terrell Owens and Tai Streets have been playing recently, it will be hard to pass up the opportunity to throw the ball.
The Raiders have watched over the past three weeks, and seen that the 49ers canít stop the pass, particularly on third down. It can be third and 50 and the 49ers would find a way to give the opposition the first down. Raiders receivers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice are two of the greatest of all time. Rice knows the 49ers cornerbacks and will look to exploit them left, right and center. The Raiders are going to pass.
With both teams looking to pass a lot this game, the victor will likely come to the team that runs. History has shown that passing teams fail in the red zone because defenses get tighter, and there is less room to make plays on offense with the shorter field. The team that establishes the run, can use it in the red zone, and my bet is, that is what will make the difference in this game.