The Tampa Bay Buccaneers kick off their 2019 regular season against the San Francisco 49ers at home. Here’s how the matchup stacks up after the draft.
The San Francisco 49ers had the second worst season in football last year with a record of 4-12, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were not far behind. At a disappointing five wins, The Bucs are looking for redemption this season under new head coach Bruce Arians. While the Buccaneers’ roster will look similar to the team that was fielded last November against the 49ers, San Francisco is looking to turn the page on their own recent down years starting in Week 1.
For as bad as the 49ers were last year, the issues were not without cause. Injuries depleted the small amount of depth that the 49ers had, losing their starting quarterback and running back in the early weeks of the season. The 49ers even took the injuries a step further and lost their backup quarterback and ended up playing part of their season with a third string player. This forced other players to step up into roles that may have not been foreseen, such as Pro Bowler George Kittle who flourished regardless of who lined up at quarterback.
The first massive strength for the 49ers is previously mentioned tight end George Kittle. In his second season, Kittle set the NFL record for most receiving yards in a season by a tight end with 1,377 yards. Kittle was dominant for the duration of the season despite who was lined up on the field next to him. With a shaky quarterback and running back situation, Kittle was able to remain one of the few constants on a 49ers team that severely needed a playmaker. Kittle is a matchup nightmare with his combination of size and speed, and could wreak havoc against the Buccaneers secondary should they not be prepared.
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Barring any re-injuries, the running back and quarterback situation should be significantly better for San Francisco this season. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will be returning from injury, and will bring more consistency to the position even though his stat lines have not been eye-popping in his tenure with the 49ers. Running back will likely be a position of impressive depth for the 49ers with the return of Jerick McKinnon and the addition of Tevin Coleman. These two added to Matt Breida make for a trio of backs that all have decent hands and the ability to run the ball between the tackles.
Finally, the 49ers made some impressive strides on defense this offseason by adding pass rusher Dee Ford, linebacker Kwon Alexander (who will likely be out for this matchup) and pass rusher Nick Bosa from the draft. The front seven for the 49ers will see to it that there is consistent pressure on the quarterback and the run game is dealt with if all of the players are healthy.