Raiders Vs. 49ers: Dysfunction Collides in Battle of the Bay

It must be terribly sad to be a football fan in Northern California.

The better part of the last decade has provided Bay Area fans with a front-row seat to what "ineptitude" really means, both on and off the field. Now, maybe it hasn't been as bad as Pittsburgh for baseball fans, where the Pirates' entry on Wikipedia shows up second on a search for "worst baseball clubs of the last decade" (go ahead and Google it; it's sad). But losing seasons and dull Januarys have been the status quo in San Francisco and Oakland both since the 2003 season.

This year, all of that was supposed to change. Both teams came out looking like front-runners following the 2010 draft. The 49ers picked up a pair of marquee offensive linemen while the Raiders shrewdly traded for a starting quarterback and linebacker to top off their first solid draft class in ages. San Francisco and Oakland were heralded as teams ready to jump back into the playoffs and Super Bowl contention.

Instead, Oakland has only tallied two wins—one against last year's bottom-feeding St. Louis Rams, and the other to AFC West rival San Diego Chargers. While that puts them one game out of a tie for first place, it's a far cry from the Silver and Black resurgence that was predicted.

The 49ers, meanwhile, have set a new record for shattered expectations. With the rest of the NFC West in disarray, San Francisco was a virtual lock for the playoffs. Their offense includes seven first-round picks and an All-Pro running back, while their defense boasts another four first-rounders, including powerhouse linebacker Patrick Willis.

San Francisco is still looking for their first win.

What is the problem in the Bay Area? How can two teams that look so good on paper tank so badly?

First off, Oakland has a long history of poor choices and lousy chemistry to overcome. As noted in this article about Bruce Gradkowski, the word "bust" has been often ass...

About the Author