What Does The Battle Of The Bay Really Mean?

D.J. O'ConnorSenior Analyst IIIJuly 27, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 18:  Tight end Vernon Davis #85 of the San Francisco 49ers splits defensive backs Michael Huff #24 and Nnamdi Asomugha #21 of the Oakland Raiders during a pre-season game at Monster Park August 18, 2007 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Greg Trott/Getty Images)

On August 22nd in San Francisco, the Raiders and 49ers will fight for the bragging rights for best team of the bay.  To any football fan outside the Bay Area, this is just another pre-season game that means nothing more than determining the third-string players and who gets cut. 
  But if you are a true fan of either of these two teams, like me, you understand what this is really about.  The atmosphere of the stadium is electric as fans of the two teams fill the seats wearing the red and gold or silver and black.  The winning team gets the bragging rights for the rest of the year, no matter how bad the regualr season goes the winners of this game can look into the rear-view mirror and remember they won this game.
  But this season, the Battle of the Bay means a little bit more than it has since 2003.  Both the 49ers and Raiders have high hopes for this season as both teams believe this will be the year that they turn around and get back to respectability.  Tom Cable and Mike Singletary were position coaches last year for this game (Singletary had LBs under Nolan while Cable was O-line under Kiffin) and now they are head coaches who were promoted in the middle of the season last year.  They both have their team in the right direction, but who is improving faster?
  Also, at the NFL Draft the Raiders took Heyward-Bey @ pick #7 and left Crabtree on the board and he fell to the 49ers @ #10.  The Raiders were highly criticized at first by fans and the media but as DHB highlights have been viewed on Youtube, Raiders fans have changed their minds mostly.  But what about Crabtree?  What could he have done in the NFL?  At the Battle of the Bay it will be Crabtree vs. DHB.  Which one is better, we'll see at the Battle of the Bay.
  And one last thing.  If JaMarcus Russell can lead the Raiders to a win, or the lead at halftime then Raiders fans will think all right he beat the 49ers, let's see what more he can do.  Or if Jeff Garcia rallies the Raiders from behind to a win then the call for Garcia to start opening day over Russell will pick up momentum.