The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming off yet another game where they get down big, early. Later in the game, they then rally with their backup quarterback, but it was too little, too late. The New York Giants have a struggling offense but against the Bucs, the mannequin that stands in the pocket for the G-men was nearly perfect. The 49ers are one of two teams with a worse record than the Buccaneers so this game is another “battle of the bad”. While both teams may be looking at the offseason, at this point, one team’s future looks brighter, the others is a ticking time bomb.
We are about 150 days away from the draft at this point and both teams playing Sunday will likely be in the top ten, potentially, top five. We are also 40 days from the end of the NFL season and Black Monday. The end is near for this Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaching staff as the combination of poor play calling and execution have lost this team five games by less than 10 points. The offense is turning over the ball and the defense can’t get turnovers. While the offense is on pace to set the passing record for most yards in a season, the defense is on pace to allow the 3rd most points per game in NFL history and have the worst turnover differential in NFL history.
The Buccaneers and 49ers aren’t technically eliminated from the playoffs yet, but everybody knows neither of them have a chance. The 49ers season was ended early due to injuries and they are currently focused on the future. They have a lot of players with potential, but they don’t have anyone healthy enough to turn their season around. Both teams were expected to take giant leaps forward this season, but clearly need another year. While the 49ers have at least another season under their current regime the Bucs ownership probably wish they ended things last year.
The 49ers were expected to take a big leap on offense this season with former New England Patriot Jimmy Garoppolo under center for a full season. However that season was ended early when “Jimmy G” tore his ACL trying to extend a run. C.J Beathard was a decent back up, but newly found Nick Mullens has led the Niners to one of their two victories. He almost managed a third on Monday night last week. Mullens is averaging 256 yards and two touchdowns per game this season. That ranks 20th in the league but is better than both Garoppolo and Beathard this season.
The 49ers offensive line has struggled protecting the quarterback allowing 31 sacks so far this season. That ranks 22nd in the league but only five behind the league most. The Buccaneers are coming off a game where they recorded three sacks, 1.5 coming from Jason Pierre Paul, who is now half a sack away from his tenth sack this year. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a team keep struggling rushing the passer, but they may have finally found their best piece since their Super Bowl run.
Like their passing offense, their ground game was expected to make a leap after they signed Jerrick McKinnon. He was supposed to take the bulk of the carries, but he immediately tore his ACL before the start of the regular season. Since then, they have found success with everyone else. At one point, they had a three headed tandem with Matt Breida leading the way. Raheem Mostert looked like one of the strongest options in his limited playing time but an ugly arm injury ended his season early. Alfred Morris is the backup, but has struggled to make any significant progress.
Breida leads the team with 632 yards on 5.6 yards per carry. Mostert’s year ended with 261 yards on 7.7 yards per carry. Morris has 20 fewer carrries than Breida, but 319 less yards. Finding consistent running back is the biggest issue for Kyle Shanahan. Breida is the only running back on the team to have back to back games with more than 60 yards. Breida is coming off his best game of the year where he racked up 132 total yards and two touchdowns. The Niners will be well rested coming off their bye week. Look for their backs to be the focus of their offense.
The 49ers have one of the worst wide receiver groups in the league with zero wide outs with more than 25 catches or 350 yards. Pierre Garcon is their top wide receiver with 24 catches for 286 yards and only one touchdown. Their preseason top option was Marquise Goodwin but has missed a few games due to injury. He leads the team with 339 yards but on 17 catches. He is a big play threat that leads their team in touchdowns with four but is boom or bust.
Their best receiving option is their tight end George Kittle. Coming seemingly out of nowhere, Kittle has emerged as one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Last season he finished with 43 catches and 515 yards. This year he has surpassed both of those numbers in five fewer games. He’s currently 3rd in the NFL with 775 yards on 50 catches. The favorite target of all three quarterbacks, Kittle will look to continue to thrive against the Bucs defense. Fullback Kyle Juszcyk has 23 catches and 265 yards so he should not be forgotten either.
For a team lacking stars on defense they rank tenth in the NFL in yards allowed with 344.2 yards per game. They currently rank 15th in passing yards allowed, 242, and 13th in rushing yards per game, 102.2. Opposing defenses have struggled to stop the Bucs passing attack. The last time the Bucs faced a top ten overall defense, they scored only three points.
Middle linebacker Fred Warner leads the team with tackles, 77. Third year defensive tackle DeForest Buckner leads the team with six sacks. The 49ers currently struggle rushing the passer and they are tied with the Bucs with 25 sacks, both in the bottom half of the league.
The Niners defense while it may be slightly above average at preventing yards they can’t stop opposing teams from scoring. They allow the 27th most points per game at 26.6. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently allow the most points per game so there will be points put up this week.
49ERS SPECIAL TEAMS
The 49ers currently have a top field goal kicker, but they struggle punting. Kicker Robbie Gould is one of the most efficient kicker in the NFL. He is 21/22 with his lone miss coming from 45 yards back in week five. He has also only missed one extra point this year, 19/20. Robbie Gould has been extremely reliable throughout his career and his success has continued into his 14th season.
Punter Bradley Pinion is not having his best year averaging 38 net yards per punt. Of his 42 punts only 14 are inside the 20. On his 17 returned punts players are averaging nine yards per return. They struggle surrendering points to opposing teams and most of the reason why is they are unable to flip the field as well as other teams.
The Niners can score if they pass the 30 yard line but if they have to punt they struggle flipping the field. The 49ers may need to look for another kicker if Gould plans on retiring anytime soon, and shouldn’t expect the same success. The Bucs special teams is finally coming together, but it may be too little too late.