Defense gives Raiders a rest

The Raiders still have a few questions that need to be addressed before the games start counting for real, such as what to do with a kicker who suddenly seems to have forgotten his compass. But Bill Callahan can rest a bit easier knowing Oakland's defense is coming off its best outing of the preseason following Saturday's preseason win over San Francisco.

After getting tossed about in losses to Dallas and Tennessee, the Raiders manhandled the 49ers for most of the first half. San Francisco was held to just 80 yards of offense and starting quarterback Jeff Garcia was only eight of 16 for 60 yards. More than half of them came on a 35-yard pass to Terrell Owens, the only play of any consequence surrendered by Oakland's starters.

More importantly, the Raiders completely shut down the 49ers running game, limiting them to six yards in the first half and just 65 yards overall.

Several players stood out for Oakland. Linebacker Eric Barton helped key a big defensive stand in the first quarter when the 49ers were backed up to their own goal line, making stops on back-to-back plays. Barton had six tackles in the first half alone. Travian Smith, playing as the outside backer when Oakland fashioned a 3-4 look up front, and defensive end Trace Armstrong combined to put plenty of heat on Garcia and back-up Tim Rattay.

The game's biggest hit was reserved for defensive tackle John Parrella. Along with newly signed Sam Adams, Parrella is expected to give the Raiders one of the top interior lines in the league. On Saturday he routinely bulled his way into San Francisco's backfield and disrupted whatever the 49ers tried to do. Midway through the first quarter, Parrella split a pair of blockers and blasted Garcia with a shot that dropped the 49ers quarterback to the turf for a seven-yard sack.

''He is what he is,'' said Callahan. ''I've seen him the last four years playing in San Diego and he was a force there and he continues to be a force here. Someone mentioned that he's a run stopper and a two-gap player, but he has a complete game. You saw that against San Francisco. When you factor in his pass-rush ability, and with Sam Adams' pass-rushing ability, I think you'll see more push in the pocket.''


SB Report Top Stories