Football fans figured something was up Wednesday morning when the betting lines shifted for the 49ers-Raiders game. The Sin City oddsmakers always know.
In a game of former Bay Area football foes, Las Vegas has decided it will bench Derek Carr for Sunday’s game against the Niners in an apparent effort not to trigger $40 million of injury guarantees. The move sets the stage for the Raiders to trade or cut Carr and incur a much smaller cap hit.
Despite having a slim chance of making the playoffs (with a lot of help), the 6-9 Raiders are waiving the white flag.
San Francisco, winners of eight straight, will now head into the New Year’s Day matchup as nine-point favorites, up from the opening line of six points. The Raiders will start backup Jarrett Stidham, according to coach Josh McDaniels.
“I had a good conversation with the quarterbacks this morning,” McDaniels said. “We’re gonna go ahead and start Jarrett the last couple games of the season here. None of us is happy where we’re at, but we think it’s an opportunity to evaluate a younger player who hasn’t had much time to play.”
This could be the end of an era for Raider Nation. Though Carr is signed through 2025, the Raiders can opt out of the deal after this season.
Carr has been the franchise quarterback since the Raiders picked him in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He’s made the Pro Bowl three times in his career and only missed four games in nine seasons. This year he leads the NFL in interceptions (14), while he has 24 touchdowns and 3,522 passing yards. Carr has great chemistry with Davante Adams, but the team has had some epic collapses and sputtered repeatedly in the red zone this year.
As Vic Tafur of The Athletic noted, it marks the first time Carr has ever missed a game for non-injury issues.
“Talking to Derek, who was great, he understands the scenario that we’re in and the situation,” McDaniels said. “Very supportive of the two young guys (Stidham and Chase Garbers). Those three guys have worked together hand in hand all year. He’ll do anything he can to help ‘em.”
Meanwhile, many 49ers Faithful are wondering if they're watching the blossoming of their next future franchise quarterback, Brock Purdy. The seventh-round rookie has won his first three starts and the team is still pushing for the No. 2 seed. With the way San Francisco’s defense has been playing, it could be a long day for the 26-year-old Stidham in his first career NFL start.
The 49ers and Raiders shared the Bay Area for 47 years. It’ll be New Year’s Day in Vegas, so it’s sure to be a party at Allegiant Stadium. According to Vivid Seats, 60 percent of the fans are expected to be rooting for the Niners.