Oakland's need to win Sunday's game, however, goes far beyond bragging rights. For San Francisco, Sunday's game is important to win like any other but for Oakland it is a must win. The Raiders (4-3) have lost three straight after a 4-0 start. Oakland has also fallen behind San Diego (6-1) and Denver (5-2).
The Raiders are 0-2 in the division and they have not even played Denver yet. If Losing to San Francisco Sunday could send Oakland to an even bigger tailspin. By no means is Sunday's contest a throwaway game for the 49ers but it's not a disaster if they lose. San Francisco (5-2) leads Arizona (4-3) for the top spot in the NFC West and is 3-0 against division opponents. Unless the 49ers totally flop, they will assuredly be a playoff team.
Oakland players seem to second the notion of Sunday's game being a must win – but not for the same reason their fans think. In the parity driven NFL, many times the more desperate team wins:
Wide receiver Jerry Porter: "We put a lot of emphasis into every game but we have to stop the bleeding somewhere."
Defensive tackle Sam Adams: "We need to win to make the living environment easier. We need to get back on track because we feel like we've been beating ourselves."
Tight end Roland Williams: "We need a victory. We'll be coming out ready to play. Since we see a lot of those guys in the supermarket, we don't want to lose to somebody who might talk smack at you."
Defensive tackle John Parrella: "Every game from here on out is important. The 49ers are a talented team and they're playing good ball."
Quarterback Rich Gannon: "It would definitely be nice to get a win this week. The 49ers are a very good football team. They've got the most speed of any team we've faced so far. They're generating a lot of turnovers and getting guys to rally to the ball."