While Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders put together their best performance of a rough season, his Bay Area counterpart Colin Kaeperkick has rarely looked worse than he has the past two weeks.
Carr threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns and the Raiders bounced back from a shellacking last week by beating the 49ers 24-13 Sunday and putting a major dent in San Francisco's dwindling playoff hopes.
"I know the kind of talent we have, I know the kind of team we have," Carr said. "We haven't put it together, obviously, throughout the season. ... I felt for the first time there wasn't the little detailed mistakes that just ruined it."
Carr threw TD passes to offensive lineman Donald Penn, Marcel Reece and Mychal Rivera as the Raiders (2-11) capped of a three-week roller-coaster by beating San Francisco (7-6).
The win follows a 52-0 loss at St. Louis, which came after an exhilarating 24-20 home win over the Chiefs as the Raiders seek some consistency to end the season.
"This game goes in highs and lows," interim coach Tony Sparano said. "One week you can be on top of the mountain and the next week you can be at the bottom of that thing really fast. It's important that our team keeps learning here."
There have only been lows for San Francisco the past weeks with a 19-3 Thanksgiving night loss to rival Seattle and then this performance against the Raiders.
Now the 49ers are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in coach Jim Harbaugh's four-year tenure. San Francisco trails three teams by two games in the NFC wild-card race with three games remaining after making three straight NFC title games.
"There is no surrendering," Harbaugh said. "You look for the next thing to win at."
Here are some other takeaways from the game:
KAP CONTAINED: Kaepernick threw an interception on the first play from scrimmage, was sacked on San Francisco's last and wasn't much better in between. He finished 18 for 33 for 174 yards with one touchdown, two interceptions and five sacks as San Francisco failed to score 20 points for the sixth time in seven games.
BIG MAN SCORES: Oakland left tackle Donald Penn got on the score sheet when he lined up as an eligible receiver in the second quarter. He reached down to catch a pass from Carr and bowled over Eric Reid on the way to the 3-yard touchdown. Penn leaped into the Black Hole for a beer-doused celebration following his third career TD catch and second against the Niners, having also caught one in 2010.
"I'm happy I'm able to live every big man's dream," Penn said.
BENCHED BROOKS: 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks had a streak of 60 consecutive starts snapped when he was benched the entire game for missing a meeting Tuesday. Brooks said nobody told him he wouldn't start or play at all Sunday.
"It's frustrating, very frustrating," he said. "They have their plan of what they want to do and all I can do as a player is just abide by the rules. No, I do not agree. I'm just a player, I'm just a number, you know what I mean?"
CLEAN CARR: Carr was sacked just one time and was given ample time to throw the ball by a line that bounced back from a rough performance last week in St. Louis. The clean pocket played a big role in Carr's big day.
"I told them I was like, 'Wherever we have to go to dinner. You guys deserve so much,'" Carr said. "I'm a little worried about that one, but, I think my wife is more worried than I am especially with Christmas around the corner. But, they deserve so much credit."
HOMECOMING: Harbaugh even sparked some chatter where he might wind up next season when he walked out of the tunnel and straight to Raiders owner Mark Davis for a quick chat before his first game in Oakland since his tenure as an assistant with the Raiders in 2002-03. Harbaugh once again repeated he is not worried about his future.
"My priorities are winning games," Harbaugh said.
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