3 ways Buccaneers can pull off upset over 49ers in Week 11

It won’t be easy, but there’s a path for the Bucs to pull off an upset over San Francisco.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v San Francisco 49ers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v San Francisco 49ers / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages
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Get pass rush pressure on Brock Purdy

Three pretty solid defenses were able to stifle Brock Purdy after getting some pressure on him, even if they didn’t always get a sack. Cleveland sacked Purdy twice but sent him to the turf six times, while the Vikings sacked him once while getting three hits on him. Cincinnati forced five turnovers in its win over the Niners — in Santa Clara, for the record — after getting seven hits on Purdy and recording three sacks.

It’s a formula that works, and the Bucs are coming off one of their best pass rushing performances of the season.

Last Sunday the Bucs sacked Will Levis four times but knocked him down a whopping 13 times en route to holding the Titans offense to just six points. San Francisco is far more talented, but the Bucs needed that sort of game to remind the pass rush of what it’s capable of on a good day.

This Sunday needs to be one of those good days. The Niners have plenty of ways to beat defenses, from Christian McCaffrey to Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, and they flexed those muscles in a 34-3 win over the Jaguars. We’ve also seen what happens when Purdy is put under pressure and can’t operate as freely as he’s used to doing. Minnesota clamped down like a vice on Purdy in a Monday Night win a few weeks ago, and while a five turnover day can’t be expected on Sunday the Bucs can look at how Cleveland tightened its grip on a powerful offense and held it to just 17 points.

Last year the Bucs brought pressure right away on Purdy and forced a strip-sack fumble on one of the first plays of the game. A penalty called it back — a pretty soft one, at that — and the Bucs backed off. the result was a 35-7 thrashing, but had that first fumble counted and Tampa bay continued to bring the house, the game might have gone differently.

Todd Bowles loves to blitz, and Sunday is a perfect game for him to indulge in that and make Purdy as uncomfortable as possible.