Fortunately for Oakland, Gannon's injury wasn't serious. Though he sat out the entire second half while back-ups Marques Tuiasosopo and Rick Mirer took over, the veteran quarterback deemed himself OK after the game. No X-rays were taken and all indications are that Gannon will be in the lineup next Thursday when the Raiders host Arizona in their preseason finale.
''It's fine,'' said Gannon, who was 13-for-20 for 88 yards against the 49ers. ''I just got hit on top of it a little. I don't know if it happened on the actual hit or when I was falling. It all happened so quick.''
As it turns out the Raiders didn't need Gannon in the second half. In a game slowed dramatically by a slew of penalties against both teams, Oakland edged its cross-bay rival 17-10 before an announced crowd of 40,120. Madre Hill's 15-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter provided the margin of victory and gave the Raiders their first win of the preseason.
Though Oakland's celebration was tame, it would have been a lot more somber had the injury report included Gannon's name. Gannon is the key to the Raiders' title hopes and had been playing well against San Francisco when he was knocked to the turf by 49ers defensive end Andre Carter. Prior to that, Gannon had marched Oakland's offense up and down the field for 145 yards in the first half.
Late in the second quarter Gannon had Oakland on the move from its own 26 down to San Francisco's 25 when 49ers defensive end Andre Carter came barreling through and hit Gannon, knocking the ball loose. Gannon tried to break his fall but came down hard on his left wrist and then landed undearneath Carter. As five attempts were made to fall on the ball by both teams, none of them successfully, Gannon stayed on the Coliseum turf before slowly getting to his feet. As he walked off the field, and as San Francisco celebrated recovering the ball deep in Oakland territory, Gannon grimmaced while holding his wrist.
On the sidelines Gannon was greeted by team trainers and concerned teammates. His wrist was secured with extra tape and Gannon looked as if he was ready to go back onto the field but when the Raiders regained possession back-up Tuiasosopo was under center. Though it looked every bit a precautionary move to avoid possibly further damaging Gannon's wrist, Callahan said the timing of the switch to Tuiasosopo was on coincidental.
''We just felt that he was ready to come out at that point,'' Callahan said. ''We wanted to possibly get Tui some two-minute work and we did. (Gannon) is fine.''
BARLOW RETURN PROVIDES A LIFT
The Raiders stumbled out of the blocks in each of their first two preseason games, falling behind early and coming up short in the long run in both games. Callahan spent the last five days stressing the importance of starting quicker to his players and they apparently took it to heart.
After a great play by Johnnie Harris to down Michael Stemke's punt at the San Francisco 1-yard line, the Raiders defense held the 49ers to no gain on three straight plays to force a punt. Reggie Barlow, who was expected to be Oakland's punt returner a year ago before a broken leg in the preseason forced him onto the injured reserve list for the entire season, was back to take the kick and immediately gave the Raiders the juice they had been looking for.
Fielding the punt at his own 43, Barlow broke to midfield then found a seam off the left. He followed the crease perfectly, picking up key blocks from Terrance Shaw and Johnnie Harris along the way, then sprinted into the end zone to cap a 57-yard touchdown return.
''There was a big hole there,'' said Barlow. ''Once I got the ball I hit the hole and made one guy miss. The other 10 guys out there really made it work.