It doesn’t appear as if the 49ers will face the Raiders’ starting quarterback, Derek Carr, when both teams square off on New Year’s Day this Sunday.
If there was any serious threat to the San Francisco 49ers in their Week 17 New Year’s Day road game against the Las Vegas Raiders, it was Vegas’ offense.
Especially considering the Raiders defense, so thin and lacking talent at all three levels, is such a liability.
However, that offense could be in for a major shakeup in the game if head coach Josh McDaniels elects to bench veteran quarterback Derek Carr, and he alluded to doing so during the week before the game.
From McDaniels when asked about the passing game over the last two games, via Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
"That’s not good enough, you know what I mean. And for us to be able to win this time of the year and be productive offensively, you have to throw the ball better than what we’ve thrown it at times here over the last month-in-a-half."
Then, when reporters asked McDaniels whether or not he’d bench Carr in favor of the backup, Jarrett Stidham, McDaniels responded with, “There’s a possibility that we would do the right thing, regardless of the position.”
There’s no shortage of speculation surrounding Carr’s future beyond this season. Yet that’s not a Niners problem. At 6-9, Las Vegas is effectively eliminated from the postseason, albeit not officially just yet. So, San Francisco won’t have to worry about a surprise run-in with its old Bay Area rivals in the Super Bowl or anything like that.
No, the 49ers just have to wonder what’ll happen on Sunday.
49ers will not face Raiders QB Derek Carr on Sunday
The Niners start their 2023 calendar year with a road game at Allegiant Stadium on New Year’s Day, and it was a question whether or not Carr winds up suiting up for the contest.
The Ringer’s Benjamin Solak pointed out an interesting development on Wednesday that suggested McDaniels was making a move away from Carr and toward Stidham:
The latter part about sitting Carr to avoid injury guarantees was telling, but the bigger draw is the fact that sportsbooks were moving the line in favor of San Francisco.
DraftKings originally opened up with the 49ers as 5.5-point road favorites, and now the spread is -10.
It appears as if the drastic change in spread is suggested Carr will be riding the bench, while Stidham will be getting the start against the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense.
Then, later in the day, McDaniels confirmed as much to reporters:
For the Niners to continue their eight-game win streak into a ninth game, that’s probably good news.
San Francisco and Las Vegas kick off on Sunday, Jan. 1 at 4:05 p.m. ET from Allegiant Stadium.