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By: Bailey Adams
After snapping their four-game losing streak with a 20-6 win over the Titans on Sunday, the 4-5 Bucs will look to make it two in a row in Week 11 as they head west to take on the 6-3 49ers.
Its first win since Oct. 1 combined with losses by New Orleans and Atlanta has Tampa Bay in second place in the NFC South, just a half-game behind the Saints for first place. The Falcons have lost three straight and the Saints lost quarterback Derek Carr to a concussion on Sunday. The door is back open for Todd Bowles’ team to reestablish itself at the top of the division.
But to strike now and take advantage will be a tall task for the Bucs. They historically don’t play well out west and they’re coming up against a 49ers squad that is flat-out better than them this year. The good news for them, though, is the schedule lightens up in a big way after their trip to San Francisco.
The Last Time…
The Bucs’ last meeting with the 49ers is surely fresh in the minds of many in the Tampa Bay locker room. In Week 14 of last season, they went out to Levi’s Stadium and got embarrassed, losing 35-7 to Brock Purdy and the 49ers in the rookie quarterback’s first career start. It was a 35-0 game until Russell Gage finally got the Bucs on the board with an 8-yard touchdown catch from Tom Brady with 2:48 left in the third quarter.
Brady threw the ball 55 times in that loss to San Francisco, tossing two interceptions to Tashaun Gipson Sr. and Dre Greenlaw. Purdy totaled three touchdowns while Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey both ran for scores as well.
The 49ers lead the all-time series with the Bucs 19-6, holding a 13-3 advantage in San Francisco.
How The Bucs And 49ers Are Trending
Both the Bucs and 49ers just snapped losing streaks this past Sunday. Tampa Bay won for the first time since Week 4 and picked up its first home win since Week 2. That got the team to 4-5 on the year and a half-game of the division lead.
If the season ended right now, the Bucs would be outside of the playoff picture for the first time since 2019. But after this game against the 49ers, they have a remaining schedule that consists of the 5-5 Colts (away), 1-8 Panthers (home), 4-6 Falcons (away), 3-6 Packers (away), 6-3 Jaguars (home), 5-5 Saints (home) and 1-8 Panthers (away).
The 49ers snapped a three-game losing streak in Week 10 after coming off their bye, and they did so in impressive fashion. Heading to Jacksonville to face the AFC South-leading Jaguars, San Francisco won 34-3. That was the first win for Kyle Shanahan’s team since Oct. 8 after beginning the season 5-0.
The 49ers currently lead the NFC West at 6-3 and hold the No. 3 seed in the NFC. But the Seahawks are also 6-3 and sit right behind them for the division lead. If the season ended right now, San Francisco would host Dallas in a Super Wild Card Weekend matchup at Levi’s Stadium.
Here’s how the Bucs and 49ers stack up heading into Week 11:
Bucs Offense: T-22nd in scoring offense (19.8 PPG), 22nd in total offense (306.7 yards per game), 15th in passing offense (228.6 yards per game), 31st in rushing offense (78.1 yards per game)
49ers Offense: T-3rd in scoring offense (28.0 PPG), 3rd in total offense (383.3 yards per game), 9th in passing offense (248.7 yards per game), 6th in rushing offense (134.7 yards per game)
Bucs Defense: 8th in scoring defense (19.2 points allowed per game), 24th in total defense (354.1 yards allowed per game), 31st in passing defense (266.9 yards allowed per game), 6th in rushing defense (87.2 yards allowed per game)
49ers Defense: T-2nd in scoring defense (15.9 points allowed per game), 5th in total defense (304.6 yards allowed per game), 15th in passing defense (221.4 yards allowed per game), 4th in rushing defense (83.1 yards allowed per game)
As of Wednesday night, the 49ers were 11.5-point favorites over the Bucs, with the Over/Under set at 41.5 (per MyBookie.ag).
What Might Decide This Bucs-49ers Matchup?
Earlier this week, the Pewter Report staff took a stab at figuring out how the Bucs could upset the 49ers. A lot of what it’ll come down to for Tampa Bay is playing a game without mistakes, both in terms of execution and discipline. They can’t miss open plays, deal with miscommunications in the secondary or rack up penalty yards and expect to beat a team as good as the 49ers.
As Scott Reynolds wrote in his SR’s Pick-6 Preview, Tampa Bay will need to play at an “A” level while San Francisco comes down to a “C” level.
Beyond the basics, this is the type of game where the Bucs will have to play a near-perfect game full of explosive plays on offense and takeaways on defense. Todd Bowles’ team has been much better this year when winning the turnover battle, while each of San Francisco’s losses during its three-game skid featured interceptions from Brock Purdy.
Tampa Bay will need to keep Baker Mayfield upright on Sunday and as good as pass protection has been this year for the offensive line, it’ll have its hands full with the 49ers’ pass rush. Nick Bosa (4.5 sacks) Javon Hargrave (4.5 sacks), Arik Armstead (3 sacks) and Drake Jackson (3 sacks) lead the way in terms of quarterback captures, while linebacker Fred Warner has two as well. As if the pass rush wasn’t formidable enough, too, it just added Chase Young in a trade with Washington.
For the 49ers, exposing the Bucs’ defensive shortcomings early will help them get a lead and put pressure on Mayfield and the offense. There are weapons all over the field for Kyle Shanahan to deploy.
Purdy does a good job of distributing the ball to the likes of Brandon Aiyuk (38 catches, 675 yards, 3 TD), George Kittle (35/559/4), Christian McCaffrey (38/339/4) and Deebo Samuel (24/332/1). McCaffrey is obviously dangerous as a runner as well, though Tampa Bay had largely held him in check since Bowles’ arrival — until last year.
The 49ers only have three losses and even in those losses, the defense gave them a chance to win. They only allowed 19 and 22 points in the first two losses before giving up 31 to Joe Burrow and the Bengals in Week 8. Last week, though, San Francisco’s defense was dominant, intercepting Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence twice and forcing two fumbles.
If there’s one area where the 49ers have some cleaning up to do, it’s in the penalty department. They’re tied for the seventh-most penalties this year and have the third-most penalty yards. Tampa Bay hasn’t been much better in terms of the number of penalties (third-most), but they only have the 13th-most penalty yards in the league.
Key Players to Watch
Mike Evans had a couple of key drops in Week 10, but he dominated otherwise. He caught six of his 10 targets for 143 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Titans, bringing him to 43 catches for 737 yards and six touchdowns on the year. His 17.1 yards-per-catch average stands right now as the third-highest mark of his career. The Bucs will need him to put up another big day if they’re gonna have a chance at beating the 49ers on Sunday.
Devin White will be tasked with keeping Christian McCaffrey in check out of the backfield. It’s something he’s done before, and he’ll be looking to make a big play to swing the game for Tampa Bay. That’s not something he’s done much of in 2023, but turning on that playmaking tendency he used to flash would be a big help for Todd Bowles’ defense. Bowles had his speedy linebacker attacking the line of scrimmage against Tennessee instead of dropping him into coverage repeatedly, but he may not be able to do that as much against Kyle Shanahan‘s offense.
Christian McCaffrey has been a huge addition to Kyle Shanahan’s offense since he was acquired in a trade with the Panthers last season. McCaffrey had his 17-game touchdown streak (which included three playoff games) snapped in the 34-3 win over the Jaguars last week. It’s extremely unlikely that he’ll go two games in a row without a score, but Tampa Bay will have to do its best to limit him. He has 1,086 total yards already this season to go with 13 total touchdowns (nine rushing, four receiving).
Fred Warner is considered one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL for a reason, and he figures to be all over the field on Sunday as the Bucs try to keep progressing as an offense. Warner has a team-leading 78 tackles (with 47 solo stops) this year, adding two sacks, five tackles for loss, six passes defensed, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. He’s a dominant defender and will be a challenge for the Tampa Bay offense on Sunday.
Bucs at 49ers Game Information
When: Sunday, November 19
Where: Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara, CA)
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET
TV: FOX – Joe Davis (Play by Play), Daryl Johnston (Analyst), Pam Oliver (Reporter)
Bucs Radio: 98Rock – Gene Deckerhoff (Play by Play), Dave Moore (Color), T.J. Rives (Reporter)
Spanish Radio: 96.1 Caliente – Carlos Bohorquez (Play by Play), Martín Gramática (Analyst)
The post Pewter Preview Week 11: Bucs at 49ers appeared first on Pewter Report.
Originally posted on Pewter Report