OAKLAND -– The Raiders defense has struggled to rush the passer with just four people. Coordinator Jason Tarver typically has to get creative to generate pressure, which leaves other parts of the field unprotected.
He didn’t have to do that on Sunday.
The Raiders rattled Colin Kaepernick during a 24-13 victory over the 49ers with a solid mix of pressure and coverage from opening drive to the final whistle.
Oakland sacked him five times and intercepted him twice in its best defensive effort of the season.
The 49ers were 3-of-11 on third down, and never seemed in sync during their second straight loss.
“Whenever you get pressure on the quarterback, you know you’re in his head,” said defensive tackle Antonio Smith, who had two sacks himself. “I think, early on, he was having success breaking out of the pocket and making some big runs, so that kind of gave him confidence. But once we kind of closed the front down and stopped him from breaking open the middle, it just made it that much easier to get him down.”
Pressure forced some ill-advised decisions. Kaepernick’s first pass was intercepted by Brandian Ross, which led to a Raiders field goal. Free safety Charles Woodson secured his 59th interception in the fourth quarter, which essentially secured victory for the Raiders.
“We won some one-on-one match-ups in there today and I think that hurt them a little bit,” interim head coach Tony Sparano said. “Towards the end of the second half he got out of there a couple of times on us and that’s dangerous. We talked about that during the week, but I think for the most part, we were able to close the pocket and keep him in there.”
Khalil Mack had two sacks. So did Smith. Benson Mayowa had another. The Raiders’ pass rush was relentless and clearly made Kaepernick uncomfortable.
“It was a collective effort,” defensive end Justin Tuck said. “We were able to stop the run in a lot of situations, and that put them in some third-and-long. We haven’t had enough of those situations. When we get those types of situations – I know I’m saying ‘situations’ a lot -- when you get those types of games you can pin your ears back.
“We feel as though our front four can play with the best of them in those situations, so for us it always starts with stopping the run and getting them in those third-and-long situations and pinning our ears back. We were able to do that today.”