The 49ers are still a team coming off of a very poor previous season. The have added some solid players like Alexander and Dee Ford, but there is still no guaranteed timetable on Kwon’s return. The secondary for the 49ers likely does not have the numbers to keep up with the sheer number of productive pass catchers on the Buccaneer offense. Mike Evans looks to cement his status as top-5 receiver in the league after a stellar 2018 campaign, and should still be productive despite matching up against former Super Bowl champion Richard Sherman.
With Sherman matched up against Evans, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard will be freed up to take advantage of their matchups on the defensive side of the ball, but this will all be reliant on the Buccaneer offensive line protecting quarterback Jameis Winston against the 49ers bolstered pass rush.
The key players to watch in this game are the quarterbacks. The matchup between Garoppolo and Winston will truly be the determinant of who comes out on top at the end of this game. With the questions in the secondary for both of these teams, the better quarterback play will likely be key in securing a win.
Both teams have questions surrounding their defenses and this matchup has the possibility to showcase the impressive offensive minds behind both of their game plans. Winston has been a starter longer than Garoppolo, but Jimmy has had a far higher percentage of success while on the field both for New England and San Francisco. In the end the better quarterback will be what wins the game, but the defenses can still force the bad plays that really dictate which quarterback is put in a better position to win.
For a game that will be the start of two separate revenge campaigns, this one will likely be very physical from very early on. For two teams that are trying to prove something, the game appears to be attainable for both sides. Despite the mirrors on both sides of the ball, right now the Buccaneers have a more consistent offense and will return almost all of their starters from last year.
On the other hand, the 49ers will have a number of new faces at key positions. Due to the home field advantage and offensive prowess of last season, as of now the Bucs have the slight advantage for this first game.