With the Las Vegas Raiders picking 12th and the San Francisco 49ers holding the 13th selection in the upcoming draft, the organizations are tied to each other for the third year in a row.
With the Las Vegas Raiders moving to the Silver State, the organization’s geographic rivalry with the San Francisco 49ers is virtually over. The series is considered more of a “fan rivalry” anyway as the teams have never met in the postseason and only face each other once every four years.
The lack of matchups has never stopped the constant bickering between Raider Nation and the 49ers’ Faithful, but those arguments will presumably fade away now that a state line separates the teams instead of a bridge. However, the NFL Draft could be the fuel that keeps the burning hatred between the fanbases alive.
After the 2017 season, the 49ers and Raiders both finished with 6-10 records adding some complexity to the corresponding draft order. Through the league’s advanced tiebreaker rules, the ninth overall selection was decided by a coin flip and obviously, the organization that was on the wrong side was awarded the 10th pick.
San Francisco won the toss and went on to select offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
After the fact, it was revealed that Las Vegas – then Oakland – was attempting to trade up and steal the Notre Dame product away from their Bay Area rival. The Silver and Black’s efforts were unsuccessful and ended up moving in the opposite direction to take a different lineman, Kolton Miller.
Which team ended up with the better end of the deal is slightly ambiguous at the moment. Miller saw his fair share of struggles as a rookie while McGlinchey throve, and this past season, the former was much improved while the latter battled injuries. This upcoming season may serve as the rubber match between these two, but they aren’t the only example of how the Raiders and 49ers have affected each other in recent drafts.
Even though both teams finished 2018 with 4-12 records, no currency was needed for the 2019 NFL Draft order as the 49ers were given the second overall pick and the Raiders were handed the fourth selection. The Silver and Black were coming off a historically abysmal season in terms of pass rush and had their eyes on defensive end, Nick Bosa.
The Red and Gold had similar intentions and once again, took Las Vegas’ top prospect off the board before general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden had the chance. Mayock and Gruden went on to address the team’s need with Clelin Ferrell and without a doubt, San Francisco got the best of that situation at this point.
However, this year will be different.
49ers’ general manager John Lynch shocked the football world last week by trading one of the team’s best players, DeForest Buckner, to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for the 13th overall selection. The Raiders will be picking 12th overall so once again, the two teams are tied to each other only this time the Silver and Black get to sit in the driver’s seat.
Arguably, the top draft needs for both organizations are the same, cornerback and wide receiver. Whichever direction one side decides to go with will significantly impact the other.
Ohio State’s Jeffrey Okudah is the consensus top corner in the draft and likely won’t slip outside of the top five, let alone the top 10. Thus, Las Vegas and San Francisco will be battling it out for the second and third-best defensive backs on their draft boards. If the former opts to address its secondary with the 12th selection then the latter will be in unfamiliar territory, having to settle for the next-best player, or it could decide to address the other side of the ball.
In another jaw-dropping transaction from a week ago, the Arizona Cardinals acquired DeAndre Hopkins which reduces its need for a wide receiver in the draft. As a result, the top wideouts could easily fall into the Raiders’ lap but, Mayock has already expressed some concerns about drafting the position early and could address the team’s other needs first. If that situation comes to fruition, Lynch would have his pick of the litter in regards to the top pass-catchers.
Of course, the reverse scenario is plausible as well; Las Vegas nabs either CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy and San Francisco targets C.J. Henderson or Kristian Fulton. Also, the Raiders could get their top wide receiver and the 49ers take the fallout. The possibilities are endless but the overarching point is, the organizations that were once separated by a body of water are once again tied at the hip and the rivalry lives on!
Hopefully, the Silver and Black get the undisputed upper hand over the Red and Gold this time around, giving Raider Nation more ammunition when debating “The Faithful.”