Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) at San Francisco 49ers (1-5)
Sunday, October 23, 2016, 4:05 P.M. ET
Levi’s Stadium (68,500) Network Television: FOX Play-By-Play: Chris Myers Analyst: Ronde Barber Sideline: Jen Hale Bucs Radio: US 103.5, Flagship Station (103.5 FM, 620 AM & 95.3 FM) Play-By-Play: Gene Deckerhoff Analyst: Dave Moore Sideline: T.J. Rives Last Game: Tampa Bay Won at Carolina, 17-14; San Francisco Lost at Buffalo, 45-16
The Bucs head to San Francisco with a real chance to even their record and gain ground in the NFC South.
Coming off a bye, Tampa Bay will face a quarterback in Colin Kaepernick who started his first game since November last week in Buffalo. While still gifted as a runner (66 yards in 2016 debut), the sixth-year pro is clearly knocking the rust off as a passer.
San Fran’s run the ball effectively, but that’s about it. The 49ers rank at the bottom in rush defense and pass offense, giving Jacquizz Rodgers and the Bucs secondary an opportunity to replicate their success in Carolina.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, is still dealing with key losses, learning in just the last week that Doug Martin (hamstring) had suffered a setback and Vincent Jackson (ACL) is out for the remainder of the year. Jameis Winston and Co. will look for receivers like Cecil Shorts and Russell Shepard to step up, as well as Adam Humphries to become a true No. 2.
Stopping run is key for the Bucs, as players and coaches have said throughout the week. The front four, which returns Gerald McCoy but will still be without Clinton McDonald (hamstring) this week, will need to close running lanes for Kaepernick and limit Shaun Draughn and Mike Davis. Carlos Hyde, arguably the 49ers best skill player, will be sidelined Sunday. This is a game for Tampa Bay to win.
In 1996, a 2-8 Bucs team traveled to San Diego to face the 6-4 Chargers. Tampa Bay came away with a 25-17 victory, sparking a culture change for a franchise that hadn’t made the playoffs since 1982. While the Bucs didn’t earn a trip to the post-season until the next year, they won their next three of five games under first-year coach Tony Dungy and turn the fortunes for Tampa Bay. Super Bowl Champions – including John Lynch and Warren Sapp – have credited that game in San Diego as the turning point for the Bucs. Could a win out west have a similar effect 20 years later? Read how the Pewter Report staff sees this Week 7 matchup playing out.
PewterReport.com Publisher & Bucs Beat Writer Scott Reynolds As I wrote in Friday’s SR’s Fab 5, the Buccaneers have won more road games (seven) than home games (three since 2014, so going out west to San Francisco to face a bad and injury-depleted 49ers team shouldn’t be a Herculean task for Dirk Koetter’s Krewe. Both of Tampa Bay’s wins have come on the road this year at Atlanta and Carolina. While the Bucs won’t be at full strength with defensive end Robert Ayers out with a high ankle sprain and running back Doug Martin and defensive tackle Clinton McDonald still plagued by hamstring injuries, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and blocking fullback-tight end Luke Stocker return to the lineup.
The 49ers gave up over 300 yards on the ground last week to Buffalo and Stocker’s return should help Jacquizz Rodgers build on his 101-yard day at Carolina before the bye. Establishing the run early versus the Panthers helped James Winston settle down and play turnover-free football. Look for more of the same this week in San Francisco as a strong running game will allow Winston to use play-action to hit tight end Cameron Brate on intermediate routes and receiver Mike Evans downfield for some big plays. Don’t be surprised to see a grind-it-out type of performance similar to the Carolina game from the offense.
McCoy’s interior pass rush will be key in getting after the scrambling of Colin Kaepernick, who is one of the most dangerous dual threat quarterbacks in the league. Defensive ends Will Gholston, Davonte Lambert, Noah Spence and Channing Ward will have to maintain disciplined rush lines to contain Kaepernick and ultimately sack him. Without Carlos Hyde, the 49ers’ run game falls off a bit with Shaun Draughn and Mike Davis. The key defensively will be to make sure that Torrey Smith doesn’t get behind the secondary. Cornerbacks Vernon Hargreaves and Brent Grimes need to continue to play well. Reynolds’ Score Prediction: Bucs win 24-16 Reynolds’ Pick To Click: WR Mike Evans
PewterReport.com Editor and Chief & Bucs Beat Writer Mark Cook Once again this is a very winnable game for the Buccaneers. The 49ers are just a bad football team, struggling to find their identity on both sides of the ball, but mostly offensively where the quarterback play has just been dreadful. Chip Kelly and his unproven-in-the-NFL offense decided to go with Colin Kaepernick last week against the Bills in hope he could provide a spark, and while the game was closer that perhaps the score indicated, the 49ers never really found any consistency.
The 49ers are banged up, just like the Bucs are, and like Tampa Bay, will be without their top rusher in Carlos Hyde. Tampa Bay has been very good against the run this year and will need to keep that trending up, including keeping the athletic Kaepernick in the pocket as much as possible. Making Kaepernick one dimensional, and throwing from the pocket will go a long way in coming home with a win.
I suspect the Buccaneers will stick to the same formula that worked in Carolina two weeks ago, running the football and looking to set up targets to Mike Evans off of play action. If the Bucs can effectively run the football, and quarterback Jameis Winston makes good decisions overall, the Buccaneers will return to Tampa to face the Raiders with a 3-3 record and life left in their season. Cook’s Score Prediction: Bucs win 23-14 Cook’s Pick To Click: TE Cameron Brate
PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Writer Eric Horchy Doug Martin rushed for a career-high 251 yards and four touchdowns, Josh Freeman added 247 yards and two more scores through the air, and the Buccaneers outscored the Oakland Raiders, 42-32. That was Nov. 4, 2012 and the last time Tampa Bay won out west.
Now it’s time to flip the script in San Francisco – a destination the franchise has won at just twice in 14 attempts.
The Bucs are not only coming off a bye, but they’re riding the wave of a big, confidence-building win over the rival Carolina Panthers into a game against one of the league’s bottom feeders. After blanking the Los Angeles Rams 28-0 to open the season, San Francisco has lost five straight while surrendering an average of 37 points per game.
Injuries continue to ravage the Bucs on both sides of the ball, but enough of the core remains to grab a victory that gets Tampa Bay back to .500.
Opponents are pummeling San Francisco on the ground and carrying over the Carolina strategy of establishing the run early and often with Jacquizz Rodgers will allow Tampa Bay to set the game’s pace.
Colin Kaepernick’s first go at running Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense didn’t work out so well in Buffalo last week, but the athletic signal caller still remains Sunday’s big X-factor. Defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald are listed as questionable, but getting even one of the two big guys back in the middle will further tip the advantage Tampa Bay’s way. The Bills were able to stifle running back Carlos Hyde (52 yards on 14 carries), which put even more pressure on Kaepernick to generate offense.
This one has “big game” written all over it and Tampa Bay needs to seize it. Siege it? Either way, the Bucs should return from the Left Coast Bay Area to the Gulf Coast Bay Area with their first two-game winning streak of the season. Horchy’s Score Prediction: Bucs win 30-17 Horchy’s Pick To Click: RB Jacquizz Rodgers
PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Writer Zach Shapiro While decimated by injuries on both sides of the ball, I expect Jacquizz Rodgers to run effectively against the NFL’s 32nd ranked rush-defense, and the Bucs fast and instinctive linebacker corps to keep Colin Kaepernick in the pocket. The return of Gerald McCoy should also help the defensive line occupy rush lanes.
The 49ers are allowing an average of 174 yards on the ground, making the Bucs depleted receiving corps less frightening for the offense. And though San Fran is only surrendering 215 yards through the air, much of that is due to its inability to keep opponents from running wild.
Defensively, I don’t see the Bucs ending their the sack drought, but keeping Kaepernick in the pocket is the main goal. He hasn’t played much in the past two years, so forcing him to make reads and throw should be advantage Bucs. Look at the 49ers loss last week, a 45-16 rout in which Kaepernick over- and underthrew a few would-be touchdowns, completing less than 50 percent of his passes (13-of-29 for 187 yards) on a shaky afternoon. Much has been made about the Bucs secondary coming together, and this Sunday seems like an opportunity to keep that momentum.
Similar to the last time the Bucs faced a Chip Kelly-coached team, I expect this game in San Fran to be Tampa Bay’s most complete performance through seven weeks.
Shapiro’s Score Prediction: Bucs win 27-10 Shapiro’s Pick To Click: MLB Kwon Alexander
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: email@example.com
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