Finding their way in Battle of Bay

Is Jeff Chandler kicking himself out of a job?

Live from 3Com Park in San Francisco, where the fans never left their seats Thursday night except to stand and cheer during the game's climactic closing moments. The 49ers and Raiders took it down to the final play in the Battle of the Bay, an exhibition game that seemed to mean more than that, and the Niners continued to reveal plenty about themselves and the direction they're headed while pulling out a 14-10 victory against their neighborhood rivals.

Taking it from the top:

--- A lightning bolt of Arland Bruce wasn't a bad way to start things off Thursday.

--- Too bad the rest of the kicking game couldn't follow suit.

--- The Niners waste Bruce's 58-yard kickoff return to start the game because Tai Streets can't catch a short pass that hits him in the hands and Jeff Chandler can't make a gimme 31-yard field goal.

--- Did Chandler miss that field goal just so he wouldn't have to take a chance of looking bad kicking off on the next play?

--- Chandler now officially has a margin for error, and it is growing thinner by the minute.

--- Streets is going to see a lot of one-one-one coverage this season.

--- Ninety minutes before Thursday's game, Tim Rattay was hitting Terrell Owens in stride with long, perfect spirals. Is that a sight of things to come this season?

--- To be sure, Rattay is no Jeff Garcia in the open field. Or no Brandon Doman, for that matter.

--- Dorsey in before Doman? That's kind of the way we see it, too.

--- Particularly after that late game-winning touchdown drive.

--- Dorsey got a hero's welcome on the sidelines after completing that drive with a touchdown pass. This was the Raiders, after all.

--- If Jamal Robertson didn't make the team with his effort last week, he should with the way he ran the football Thursday.

--- Brandon Lloyd is going to be a factor this season.

--- But making adjustments like that is why slippery Cedrick Wilson still is holding off Lloyd for the No. 3 role at receiver.

--- Don't rule out Arnaz Battle getting on the field at receiver this year, either.

--- Jamie Winborn with a full head of steam is a beautiful thing to see on third down. Unless you're an opposing quarterback.

--- But if the Niners are going to blitz Derek Smith, they need to make sure and tell him to hold on.

--- It looks like the Niners are serious about getting the tight end more involved this season.

--- The Niners' starting offensive line got beaten to the punch Thursday, but it's a unit that usually gets stronger as the game goes along than it is at the start.

--- Adding a physical dimension to his finesse will make Ahmed Plummer a better cornerback this season.

--- But it wasn't too encouraging to see him carted off the field to get X-rays on the same left ankle that has bothered him throughout training camp.

--- That Fred Weary replaced Plummer with the first team tells you something about the Niners' depth at cornerback.

--- Is a Barlow burst better than a heady Hearst? We think maybe so.

--- It's true. Mike Rumph really does appear to finally be getting it.

--- The San Francisco pass rush is still getting there a step too late. Or two.

--- At least we can count on Andre Carter getting there some of the time.

--- The Niners signed second-year defensive end Jace Sayler before the game and he was in uniform against the Raiders. Obviously, San Francisco's pass rush is looking for all the help it can get.

--- Bringing Julian Peterson off the edge ought to help, though.

--- We once saw Jerry Rice lose an entire season in his prime trying to run a reverse just like that.

--- You usually don't see fullback Fred Beasley missing blocks that badly.

--- There was an Andrew Williams sighting Thursday. Finally.

--- Marcus Reese is doing all he can to make this team.

--- Anthony Adams is looking more and more like the man at defensive tackle all the time.

--- In fact, with Bryant Young missing in action after having his left ankle scoped before the game, Adams was the only defensive tackle we even noticed.

--- Well, we did see Josh Shaw lose his helmet. But what he really needs to do is a better job losing blockers.

--- It was nice to see Garcia taking a few crisp tosses on the sidelines in the fourth quarter, as if to let everybody know he still can do it.

--- Can't wait to have you back, Jeff.

--- Why? Well, digest these numbers: On Saturday in Kansas City, Rattay, Doman and Dorsey combined for a quarterback rating of 136.6. On Thursday, against a better defensive team, they combined for a rating of 72.0.

--- That was a pretty exciting way for Dennis Erickson to start off in front of the home fans.

--- "I just wish it counted," Erickson said afterwards.

--- Not that it really means anything, being the preseason and all, but Erickson now is 2-0 as head coach of the Niners. Steve Mariucci finished 9-18 in his six preseasons with the team. Recommended Stories

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