Week 15/Game 14: San Francisco 49ers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When: Sunday, December 15th at 10am PT/1pm ET
Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida
TV: FOX Regional (All of California, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Northern Nevada, West-Central Florida)
Northern & Central California: KTVU 2 San Francisco; KTXL 40 Sacramento; KMPH 26 Fresno; KCVU 20 Chico-Redding; KBVU 28 Eureka; KBFX 58 Bakersfield
Tampa/West-Central Florida: WTVT 13 Tampa; WOFL 35 Orlando; WFTX 4 Fort Myers/Naples
Direct TV Sunday Ticket: Channel 708
Announcers: Dick Stockton, Ronde Barber
49ers Continue Post Season Quest- The 49ers coming off a hard fought win last Sunday against the arch rival Seahawks travel east this week to meet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 49ers in their 19-17 win over Seattle got a strong performance from their defense while the offense made just enough plays to best their northwest division rival. This week the 49ers take on a team that has had a much tougher go of it this season. The Buccaneers enter the game with a 4-9 record, however after an 0-8 start have actually won four of their last five games including an impressive 27-6 at home over Buffalo in Week 14. Tampa Quarterback Mike Glennon has done a rather impressive job taking the reins of the offense weeks after former Buccaneer QB Josh Freeman was let go after walking out on the team. The Buccaneers on defense feature former 49er Dashon Goldson who remains one of the more intimidating free safety’s in the game. The 49ers know that this game is as important as any they will have remaining on the schedule as each week their post season quest will be put on the line. The 49ers cannot treat Tampa different than any other team as they know the Buccaneers have only one role they can play Sunday, that of a spoiler. If the 49ers want to avoid that the “A Game” is just as important for this game as it was a week ago. The 49ers biggest enemy here could be the “Let Down Factor” and will need a solid effort against one of the most dangerous opponents a team can face this late in the year. That being a team like the Buccaneers who frankly have absolutely nothing to lose here.
Buccaneers Offense- Statistically Tampa Bay is at or near the bottom of the NFL in total average points scored per game, rushing yards and passing yards. However a great deal of those statistics were compiled during Tampa’s dreadful 0-8 start. Starting QB Glennon has stood tall in the pocket since becoming the Buccaneers top QB in Week 8. Glennon has completed 61 percent of his passes and has already thrown for over 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns, making him one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league over the last six weeks. Vincent Jackson is Tampa’s deep ball threat. Timothy Wright, Brian Leonard (out of the backfield) and Mike Williams are receivers that the 49ers corners are going to need to keep an eye on. Carrying the load on the ground is Doug Martin who is amongst one of the better rushers in the NFL. Bobby Rainey and Mike James can also take the ball up field when called upon to do so. The 49ers defense will have plenty to focus on as the Buccaneers offense figures to present some challenges of their own.
Buccaneers Defense- The Tampa Bay defense ranks about in the middle of the pack in the NFL, but are actually a top 10 defense against the rush. The 49ers will have some challenges getting their running game as the offensive line will need to find ways to open holes against a defensive line that keeps coming. This could possibly be a repeat of the Redskins game in the respect that the 49ers are able to throw the ball effectively but have a hard time running it. With the Buccaneers defense ranked 12th in total points allowed the 49ers will need to make the most of their opportunities as they come along. Lavonte David, Mark Barron, Mason Foster along with Leonard Johnson and former 49er Goldson have combined for nearly 400 tackles on the season and will give the 49ers offense plenty to think about.
49ers Perspective- The 49ers best approach for this game is to take to it as a business trip. Get to Tampa. Then get to the stadium. Then play their game and come on home when it’s done. Certainly that’s always much easier said than done, but the point is the 49ers need to keep their order for the day simple in context. The 49ers offense held up as well as one could expect last week versus Seattle’s top ranked defense. Granted the Buccaneers defense isn’t the Seahawks defense but they can still be tough to deal with. The 49ers the way they have done it of recent tend to establish their passing game ahead of the running game. If this works, fine. If the 49ers have trouble running the ball, the passing game will become their main option quick enough. Colin Kaepernick last week against the Seahawks was 15 of 29 for 175 yards. With Michael Crabtree back in the line up Kaepernick now has more options to spread defenses which has allowed him to get more passes to Anquon Boldin and Vernon Davis. The 49ers might even want to try using Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter more out of the backfield if the situation calls for it. Ofcourse if the 49ers can establish a run game against the Tampa defense the whole team will be better served by it. On defense the main thing is to keep the Buccaneers at bay and not to give up big plays. The 49ers defense last Sunday against Seattle shut down one of the league’s best offenses in the second half. Against Tampa they will get some challenges and they need to be ready for them. However keep in mind again the Buccaneers are still near the bottom statistically in the NFL in total offense. This is not to say NoVarro Bowman, Patrick Willis, Ahmad Brooks, Donte Whitner and the 49ers defense wont have their challenges. The 49ers defense needs to establish early on to the Buccaneers that they are amongst the best team defenses for a reason.
Kingshark Line- For the 49ers the mission Sunday is to take care of their business and play their brand of football, and to shut out the distraction and not worry about anything else. Winning and being consistent on the road is one thing the 49ers must become as the post season gets closer each day. This is stickily about handling their business and keeping things simple, and at the same time not overlooking a Buccaneers team that has nothing to lose coming into this game. Look for this game to be closer than one would expect, but the 49ers should have more than enough fire power on both sides of the football to get the job done here. 49ers 26 Buccaneers 17.
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