Programming note: Watch Raiders Press Conference Live today at 2:00 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California, or streaming live right here.
OAKLAND – The Raiders played well enough to beat a talented, yet downtrodden 49ers squad on Sunday afternoon. They were darn good, not perfect.
I’m sure Raiders fans will enjoy watching me struggle to criticize after so many weeks where pluses were tough to find.
Let’s pick three:
1. Tone it down, Sio: Raiders linebacker Sio Moore is a strong personality. He’s a fun-loving guy at his core, but his exuberance can get the best of him.
Sometimes it’s amusing – anyone see his third quarter dance party that lasted an entire commercial break? – sometimes it’s over the top. Remember his over-celebration that nearly cost the Raiders during a win over Kansas City? Took it too far that time.
He clearly wasn’t a fan of some 49ers behaviors during Sunday’s game that we’ll never know about, but his social media outburst was a bit unprofessional. He called 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick a “freakin’ chump” in an unnecessary Instagram post. Sio, you just embarrassed Kaepernick on the field. Your defense intercepted him twice and likely cost his team a playoff spot. Wasn’t that enough?
Moore is a good player who can be a foundation piece for this defense, but his antics at times overshadow his play. Let’s keep focus on the field.
2. Special teams struggles continue: The Raiders have struggled containing return men of late. They got into trouble against Kansas City and again on Sunday, when Bruce Ellington gave the 49ers good field position.
He averaged 30.2 yards on three kickoff returns, and brought the only returnable punt back 23 yards. While Marquette King has done an excellent job pinning opponents inside the 20 with punts that can’t be returned, his cover teams must do a better job of slowing returns when they happen.
3. Dropping down the draft board: The Raiders were in line to get the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NFL draft, a small consolation for a forgettable season. Sunday’s victory dropped them to the No. 5 spot. I’m sure fans will sacrifice a few spots for a victory over a backyard rival, but the Raiders don’t want to drop too far down the list. They still need impact players, preferably a Top 5 talent who can step in and make a major impact.