We continue with our Buccaneers’ season preview with the first game out of the bye week, against the San Francisco 49ers.
We are one week away from the rookies arriving at Buccaneers’ camp and nine days away from the veterans’ arrival. Football is getting closer and closer. With the Rays sitting in last place in the AL East, football can’t come soon enough. We’ve waited through an off-season that saw some wholesale changes, which we have talked about at length. Finally, we can see some football.
Well, soon anyway.
With that, we will continue with our game by game previews of the upcoming season. Over the last several days, we have been looking at each game and what the Bucs will be up against. Is it early? Sure. But speculation is what we do best this time of year so let’s get to it.
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In week seven, the Bucs come out of the bye week and head to the West Coast for a game against Chip Kelly’s 49ers. They haven’t been great of late, finishing 5-11 last year, leading to Jim Tomasula being a “one and done” head coach. Chip takes over the team and is looking to do what he couldn’t do in Philadelphia; achieve sustained success with his fast-paced offense.
Over their history, these two teams have done battle 22 times, with the 49ers winning 17 of those games, including four out of the last five. The last time the Bucs beat the Niners was in 2010 at Candlestick, when they shut out the home team 21-0.
This is a team that the Bucs, who according to Pro Football Focus have second best running back group in the league, should be able to run on. Last year, the Niners ranked 29th in the league against the run, allowing 126.2 yards per game. They also tied with Atlanta with 20 rushing touchdowns allowed, most in the league. If the line comes together after adjusting to life without Logan Mankins, this should be a day for the ground game to be quite successful.
The biggest threats on the San Francisco’s defense come from the linebacking group. Novorro Bowman is a perennial 100 tackle player, and Ahmad Brooks is still a force as a pass rusher. Keep them out of the play and there should be room to roam.
Don’t worry Jameis. The Niners were 27th against the pass last year, so they weren’t much better there.
On defense, the key will be to get into the face of the quarterback, whether it’s Blaine Gabbert or Colin Kaepernick. On paper, the Niners don’t have a lot of weapons that scare anyone on offense. Carlos Hyde was the leading rusher, but he only rushed for 470 yards. He drop 168 yards on the Vikings in week one last year, so he has explosive play in him. We need to see it more consistently before we place him in the upper tier of the league.
Anquan Boldin was the top receiver on the team, but he remains a free agent.
All in all, for all of the strength in the Bucs’ first five games of the year, they get a break right here. They still have to do it on the field, though.