December 03, 2014

A frustrating Thanksgiving defeat has fueled further speculation regarding Jim Harbaugh's future as coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

Even the lowly Oakland Raiders have found themselves amid the drama.

With a fourth straight trip to the playoffs potentially slipping away, Harbaugh's 49ers try to get back on track by adding to the Raiders' misery Sunday in the East Bay.

San Francisco's futile effort in a 19-3 home loss to Seattle last Thursday night not only delivered a hit to the team's postseason chances but prompted CEO Jed York to tweet the performance "wasn't acceptable."

Reports later surfaced that the 49ers (7-5) could trade Harbaugh with one year remaining on a five-year, $25 million deal. It's also rumored that Oakland (1-11) might be interested in making a deal for Harbaugh, who was an assistant coach with the Raiders in 2002 and '03.

Oakland might be in worse shape than San Francisco from a football standpoint, but hasn't experienced nearly as much drama as its Bay Area neighbor.

During his Monday press conference, Harbaugh was asked which team he'd be coaching Sunday. He smirked, then slightly chuckled.

''I don't worry about my future,'' Harbaugh said. ''Haven't participated in any of that speculation. I think I have a recessive gene for worrying about my own future.

"What I want is to attack this week. I want to get this right.''

There's work to be done for a team that's made three straight trips to the NFC title game but is one game behind the wild-card leaders.

The 49ers' three-game winning streak ended when the Seahawks held them to season lows for points and total yards (164). Colin Kaepernick went 16 of 29 for 121 yards with two interceptions and was sacked four times while seeing his string of 21 straight games - including the playoffs - with a TD pass end. His 36.7 passer rating was the second-lowest of his career.

"(It's) a very prideful group here, as a team, as an offense we want to perform better, whatever that takes," fullback Bruce Miller said.

The 49ers are tied for 25th at 19.3 points per game - 6.1 fewer and 14 spots lower than last season. They've been held under 100 rushing yards in five of the last seven games, and totaled 130 in home games versus Washington and Seattle after gaining 292 the previous two on the road.

Harbaugh made no changes to his staff, and offensive coordinator Greg Roman will continue calling plays in the wake of the defeat and a tweet posted by the daughter of general manager Trent Baalke saying "Greg Roman can take a hike..the 49ers don't want you no more."

Baalke issued a statement that both had apologized to Roman for the ''unfortunate matter.''

''Nobody that's for us was happy about losing the game, losing a big game,'' Harbaugh said. ''We're still not happy about it. Our job is, my job, let's talk about my job. My job is to get it right. That's what we're attacking, without excuse. Onward to the Raiders.''

Meeting for the first time since Frank Gore rushed for 149 yards to lead the 49ers to a 17-9 home victory in 2010, the Raiders could provide them with an ideal opportunity to rebound.

Ten days after ending a 16-game skid with a 24-20 win over Kansas City, Oakland lost 52-0 at St. Louis on Sunday - the second-worst defeat in the team's storied history.

Harbaugh, at least publicly, expects the Raiders to be more competitive.

"There's no bad teams in the National Football League," he said. "The NFL has done a great job making each game a test. And they've exceeded in expectations in that regard."

That wasn't the case last Sunday, when Oakland allowed the Rams to open with five straight touchdown drives and rack up 172 yards on the ground.

The Raiders committed a season-high five turnovers, and their 244 total yards marked the fifth time in seven games an offense that averages NFL lows of 279.9 and 14.7 points was held to fewer than 250. Now, they face a San Francisco team that has not yielded more than 20 points in three straight games and six of eight.

''This team's always been great about bouncing back, and they're really good about being resilient and they're really willing,'' interim Oakland coach Tony Sparano said. ''That's one of the things I love the most about this group, is their will to kind of fight back. I don't anticipate that being a problem this week."

Oakland moves forward with Derek Carr still under center.

The rookie was pulled after going 24 of 39 for 173 yards and two interceptions. Carr has failed to throw for 200 yards in five straight games, and hasn't reached 175 in his last three.

Carr, however, remains a better option than veteran Matt Schaub, who was 5 of 9 for 57 yards with an INT that was returned for a TD and sacked three times in a relief role last Sunday.

Oakland rookie Latavius Murray has been cleared to play after he missed last week with a concussion suffered while running for 112 yards and two TDs on four carries against the Chiefs.

Though last week's performance might be the low point to an already terrible season, the Raiders understand the importance of what's ahead.

''Everybody in this area has been waiting for this game for a long time,'' defensive end Justin Tuck said. ''I think that's the best thing that could have happened after a loss like that, is to have this type of game where all of your attention has to be focused on the 49ers going forward.''

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