Bay Area Debate: Who’s had a Better Offseason, 49ers or Raiders?

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Updated: March 26, 2015
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Last year was a disappointing season for both the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders. Both Bay Area teams missed the playoffs and hired new head coaches.

Last season, the 49ers’ overall record was 8-8 and they missed the playoffs for the first time in the Jim Harbaugh era — who parted ways with the team to coach his alma mater, the University of Michigan.

After Harbaugh departed, the 49ers promoted defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to the head coaching position.

The Raiders missed the playoffs for the 11th straight season – tied for the longest active playoff drought in the NFL. Their overall record was 3-13 in quarterback Derek Carr’s rookie season. After firing Dennis Allen during the season, the Raiders hired former Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.

Of both teams, it’s considered that the 49ers has had the worst offseason. Key departures for Tomsula’s squad include linebackers Chris Borland and Patrick Willis to retirement, running back Frank Gore, guard Mike Iupati and cornerbacks Perrish Cox and Chris Culliver.

The retirements of both Borland and Willis caught the public by surprise. Borland, 24, retired for health concerns and Willis, 30, ended his career due to a nagging turf toe injury he suffered last November. Gore signed with the Indianapolis Colts on a three-year deal worth $12 million, after being the franchise leading rusher for the Niners. He accumulated 11,073 rushing yards in his 10-year career in San Francisco. The 32-year-old took to his Instagram account on March 10 to thank the 49ers faithful after signing with the Colts.

“I want to take this time to thank the York family. You gave me the opportunity to play the game I have loved since childhood. You are truly world class. Thank you to the entire 49er organization for all the support you have given me through the years. Most importantly I want to thank all my fans truly the best fans in the world. I will miss you but will always carry you close to my heart.”

His departure leaves a significant impact on the 49ers’ run-first scheme, but leaves an opportunity for second-year player Carlos Hyde to become an every down back. With the addition of Reggie Bush and Kendall Hunter returning from an ACL injury, it should help the Niners deal with the loss of Gore.

The departure of Iupati leaves an impact on the offensive line, that will be protecting quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Iupati signed with the Arizona Cardinals on a five-year, $40 million deal this offseason, and has started every game since he was drafted by the Niners in 2011. The addition of Erik Pears should add depth to the position, as the Niners will try to find an offensive identity – something they were missing last year.

The departures of Cox and Culliver are significant because of the depth the team is lacking at cornerback. Cox agreed to a three-year, $15 million deal with the Tennessee Titans. Culliver signed with the Washington Redskins on a four-year deal worth $32 million. The contract has $16 million guaranteed.
With Cox and Culliver leaving, it leaves Tremaine Brock, Chris Cook, Leon McFadden and Dontae Johnson as the notable corners on the roster. The addition of former San Diego Chargers cornerback Shareece Wright should add much needed depth, as he’ll compete for a starting job along with Brock.

Notable additions the Niners made this offseason have been receiver Torrey Smith, defensive end Darnell Dockett and former Australian rugby player Jarryd Hayne, who is listed on the roster as a running back. Thus far, the signings of Smith and Dockett are the key additions as they are expected to make an impact right away.

Torrey Smith brings speed to the Niners’ offense – something they’ve been missing for the past couple of seasons – and he will reunite with former Baltimore Ravens teammate Anquan Boldin. Dockett brings depth to the Niners’ defensive line, which might also lose Justin Smith to retirement. With missing last season with an ACL injury, Dockett could be primed as a Comeback Player of the Year candidate if he has a solid season in 2015.

The Raiders started the offseason with $54.3 million in cap space and have signed notable players such as Super Bowl XLVIII MVP linebacker Malcolm Smith, former New Orleans Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton, defensive tackle Dan Williams, safety Nate Allen and center Rodney Hudson.

Even though they lost the DeMarco Murray sweepstakes, they’ve had a decent offseason by adding depth and, most importantly, starters that could make a difference for the defense, which has been their weak link the past few years.

The most important addition for the Raiders is the hiring of Del Rio. The franchise gains a coach who has led a team to the playoffs; something Raider Nation strongly desires.

The most important signing this offseason was retaining veteran safety Charles Woodson on a one-year deal worth $3.2 million. It’s a significant signing because Woodson provides leadership on a defense that has many young players, such as Kahili Mack.

Significant departures include safety Tyvon Branch and running back Darren McFadden. Branch signed with the AFC West rival Kansas City Chiefs on a one-year deal worth $2.1 million and $1.07 guaranteed. McFadden, who has been with the Raiders since 2008, has had injuries impact his career the last couple of seasons. He signed with the Dallas Cowboys on a two-year deal worth $3 million.

In terms of having the better signings, the Niners win because they added better players — such as Torrey Smith and Bush, as they both bring speed to their offense. Dockett is a better defensive signing than any move the Raiders made on that side of the ball.

The departures the Raiders had aren’t as bad as the Niners, however. The only significant player they lost was Branch, who has been a leader in Oakland’s secondary since 2008.

In terms of hiring a coach, the Raiders get a proven winner in Del Rio but he has a less talented team than what Tomsula has to work with in San Francisco.

Everyone will have to wait until this upcoming season to see who had the superior signings and significant departures. A debate of which Bay Area franchise hired the better coach has started, but could continue for years to come.

 

 

Photo Cred (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America)

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