Brock Purdy versus Jarrett Stidham; apparently, this was the matchup of the season.
Sunday did not project to be a particularly close game. The Raiders benched starting quarterback Derek Carr for the remainder of the season — in order to prevent him from securing $33 million in money protected against injury next year — in what seemed like a move for a team that had given up.
But Stidham dealt, and for the first time since that brutal two-week stretch against the Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs, the 49ers defense was exposed. The saving grace for San Francisco is that the Raiders defense had no interest in stopping them.
What followed was insanity. Both offenses ran rampant, and turned the ball over in outrageous fashion. There was even a Robbie Gould game-winner miss, followed by overtime redemption. It had everything… except defense.
It was a ridiculous, stupid, beautiful, 37-34 walk-off overtime win that netted the 49ers their ninth-straight win, and puts them in a prime position to secure the No. 2 seed, and maybe the No. 1 seed, in the NFC. It also eliminated the Las Vegas Raiders from playoff contention.
So where do we even start.
First off, the 49ers tackling was was uncharacteristically poor. The Raiders ran it for 135 yards, with Josh Jacobs consistently giving them issues. Their coverage was worse. Stidham and co. split them apart at the seams, throwing for 365 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
The tone was set early.
Las Vegas rattled off a 6-play, 70-yard opening touchdown drive, ending with a play-action that Talanoa Hufanga bit on, leaving Darren Waller wide open.
The 49ers came right back, though, riding 53 yards of Christian McCaffrey on the ground and another seven through the air. While Brandon Aiyuk dropped a would-be first down earlier in the drive, he made up for it with an easy touchdown catch at the end of it.
For a moment, on the ensuing drive, it seemed like the 49ers had rediscovered their defensive identity.
Then they were gashed again, courtesy of a 27-yard Davante Adams catch and an effective run game that got the Raiders down to the 1-yard line. Las Vegas tried another play action to Waller, but this time Hufanga read it and forced an incompletion and a field goal.
San Francisco came back with a second-straight touchdown drive. This one was a 13-play, 50-yard grueler, benefiting from 25 yards in penalties.
The punctuation was an impressive Brock Purdy touchdown to George Kittle. He spun away from pressure, bought time, and threw a layered ball to find the tight end for his fifth TD in three games.
Purdy notched those two touchdowns just about immediately, but this was the worst performance of his young career. He locked in on some throws, but missed a few huge opportunities, and wasn’t as sharp as we’ve seen.
Meanwhile, Stidham was legitimately electric. The Raiders were trailing 14-10 with about two minutes left. Stidham got them into the end zone to end the first half with a gorgeous 50-50 ball to Adams, who just went up and over Charvarius Ward to secure a 17-14 Raiders lead.
San Francisco failed to make use of the opening possession of the second half, going three and out. The Raiders punished them on a brutal busted coverage.
Stidham looked dead to rights on a 3rd-and-4, as Samson Ebukam and Hufanga — leaving coverage — ran after him, hitting him as he threw. But with no one over the top, Adams made an off-schedule turn upfield and Stidham found him for a 60-yard, wide open touchdown.
If not for a Fred Warner facemask penalty on a third-and-13 earlier in that drive, that would not have been possible.
It was 10-point Raiders lead. But the Raiders came into this game with four losses in games they’d led by 10 points. This is not a team that excels in sitting on the ball.
The 49ers came back with a touchdown drive. Purdy shook off a bogus holding call on Kittle and his own miss of a wide-open Kittle, in which he took a check down. He found Jauan Jennings for 18 yards, and McCaffrey, who absolutely dominated the Raiders all game, got his lone touchdown of the game on a 14-yard carry.
It was frenetic at that point.
The 49ers forced a rare three-and-out, but Purdy gave the Raiders the ball back. He misplaced a deep ball to George Kittle and Amik Robertson undercut for an outstanding interception.
But the 49ers got their own a few plays later. Kerry Hyder Jr. brought pressure, hitting Stidham as he threw for an incompletion. The very next play, he stuffed a ball at the line of scrimmage and rookie Drake Jackson looked up to the heavens for a first career interception.
Purdy missed both Jauan Jennings deep down the right sideline on an underthrown ball, and Kittle, who turned late to the ball, forcing a game-tying kick.
SF forced another Raiders punt, and a 42-yard screen to Ray-Ray McCloud set up a lead-taking field goal for the 49ers.
The Raiders, though, got their own, thanks to a 57-yard Daniel Carlson field goal tying things at 27.
The madness wasn’t close to ending there. Neither defense was even theoretically close to stopping the opposing offense.
With 4:08 on the clock, Purdy got another shot. He found Aiyuk for 23 yards. Two plays later, he hit McCaffrey, who ran over approximately half of the Raiders defense for a 38-yard gain.
Jordan Mason was given the reins on the very next play, running in a 14-yard touchdown to put the 49ers up 34-27.
But that score came with 2:23 on the clock. Way too much time for Stidham.
Stidham opened with a 21-yard completion to Mack Hollins. Two plays later, he threw up a prayer to Adams, who, of course, answered it. It was a 45-yard bobbled grab that looked solid, though there weren’t any decent camera looks to overturn it. Adams finished with seven catches for 153 yards and 2 TDs.
After a Fred Warner defensive pass interference, Josh Jacobs walked in a 1-yard touchdown run to tie the game again.
It happened so quick, though, that Purdy got another chance with 1:11 and three timeouts. He was more than up to the challenge, despite an interception scare on the first play.
But he shook off that near miss. He found Aiyuk for 12, 18, then 11. Then Kyle Shanahan dialed up a risky play action with 25 seconds left. Purdy was hit on his blind side as he threw, but Aiyuk went up heroically, and snagged it for another 11-yard gain. He had nine catches for 101 yards and a TD on the day.
That should’ve been it. A Robbie Gould 41-yard field goal would have ended things.
Of course he missed it. He pushed it wide right, forcing overtime.
The Raiders, obviously, won the coin toss.
Las Vegas started off leaning on Jacobs, but after getting stuffed on first down, they went to the air.
That’s when Nick Bosa, who was denied a sack on Sunday, came through for a game-winning play. He drove Raiders left tackle Kolton Miller into Stidham’s lap. Stidham was hit by Miller’s back as he threw, and Tashaun Gipson Sr. — narrowly denied a fingertip interception earlier — snagged the ball and ran it back 56 yards.
This time, from 23 yards out, Gould nailed it.
The 49ers, at 12-4, thanks to Vikings and Eagles losses, have a real shot at the No. 1 seed and currently hold the No. 2 seed. As long as they beat the Arizona Cardinals in Week 18, they will hold onto the No. 2 spot.