As a lot of my readers already know, I am a 49ers fan. So, if any of my readers follow the NFL, they know that the last few years have been rough for my favorite team.
I am not only talking about the 49ers record, but their off the field struggles have put the organization in a bad light multiple times. Whether it was the controversial protests of Colin Kaepernick, the multiple laws broken by Aldon Smith or the firing of Jim Harbaugh, many things contributed to the downward spiral of the 2012 NFC Champions. But only seems fitting that when one powerhouse falls, another takes it place.
The Raiders didn’t waste too much time taking over the Bay Area as the best NFL team.
I can only imagine that it takes a village to make any sports franchise successful, but in my opinion the quick turn around of the Raiders franchise was triggered by 6 key people.
The first of these people is Mark Davis(pictured left). Davis grew up within the organization. His father, Al, was the longtime owner of the franchise and after his death in 2011, his son Mark took his shares of the team, becoming the majority owner.
While Al Davis owned the team, he personally ran the business and football sides of the organization but when Mark took over, he almost immediately hired a General Manager to run the football side of things.
The second of the 6 people is Reggie McKenzie, the General Manager that Davis hired. McKenzie essentially cleaned house during the first few years in the job; firing and hiring coaches and releasing and drafting players. He was at the forefront of the rebuilding process of the Oakland Raiders.
The next two on the list are players that McKenzie drafted in the first and second rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft. With the 5th pick in the draft, the Raiders selected arguably the best defensive player that year, Khalil Mack(pictured right), a defensive end from Buffalo. Mack quickly turned himself into one of the NFL’s scariest pass rushers and earned himself the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
One round later, with the 36th pick in the 2014 draft, the Raiders selected Derek Carr(pictured left), a quarterback from Fresno State. Carr has started every game but one since being in the league. He had his breakout seasons in 2015 and 2016, and made himself a good candidate for 2016 NFL MVP before his season ended early with a broken leg, hindering the Raiders Superbowl odds that year.
5th on the list is Jack Del Rio. Del Rio was hired in 2015 as head coach and took the team from a 3-13 record in 2014 to a 7-9 record in 2015 and then to a 12-4 record in 2016. Del Rio recently signed a contract extension to stay with the team until 2020.
The final name on my list is another draftee. This one comes from the 2015 NFL Draft. Amari Cooper(pictured right) was hands down the best wide receiver in the draft that year, and a solid receiver was exactly what the Raiders were looking for. He was selected with the 4th overall pick and quickly became a superstar in the league. He caught 6 touchdowns and gained the 1,070 yards as a rookie, the 8th most for a rookie all time.
As a 49ers fan, I can only look at the Raiders and think that it’ll be this easy to turn the Niners around but who knows. The 49ers have been “rebuilding” for a few seasons now but with the recent hiring of Kyle Shanahan, and the signing of many free agents, 2017 could be pretty good for the Red and Gold.
All statistics and information from http://www.footballdb.com/index.html