Week one of the NFL season is only days away. Soon the speculations, hot takes and predictions will become a reality. This article is aimed to be a scouting report for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers opponents, this week being the San Francisco 49ers.
We will cover the strengths, weaknesses and important facts to know before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kickoff so that you can be as informed as possible while watching the game on Sunday. Without further ado, lets dive in.
Out of all of the positional groups on the 49ers, most would point to the defensive line as the strongest. With newly acquired free agent Dee Ford and draft picks Nick Bosa and DeForest Buckner, this unit is projected to wreak havoc against a very week Buccaneers offensive line.
Most people only remember Dee Ford for the offsides penalty against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game. But make no mistake, Ford was an elite pass rusher last year posting 13 sacks for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Selected in the 2016 draft, DeForest Buckner broke out in 2018 totaling 12 sacks with an invitation to the pro bowl. On the official depth chart, Buckner is listed as the right defensive tackle, but a competent defensive coordinator would likely line him up against Alex Cappa rather than Ali Marpet.
Finally we have Nick Bosa, who was taken with the number two pick in the 2019 NFL draft. Bosa is compared to his brother, Joey Bosa, during the draft process which does not spell good news for this offensive line.
The only slightly uplifting news is that Bosa suffered an ankle injury on August 2nd, and his status for week one is up in the air. I will be following his status closely, but if Bosa were to sit out week one, the Buccaneers line would have one less pass rusher to worry about.
Fans of the 49ers may disagree but the secondary is a clear weakness. That bodes well for a solid Buccaneers receiving core that should take a step forward in 2019. San Francisco was graded as the worst coverage unit in 2018 according to Pro Football Focus, and the team did little to address it in the offseason.
Richard Sherman is a shell of his former self since leaving the Seattle Seahawks a year ago and besides him, there is no one else in the secondary that I am particularly afraid of.
Jaquiski Tartt is a solid strong safety but he is poor in pass defense. In 2018 Tartt recorded only two pass defenses and one interception.
Buccaneers receivers should have a field day if Jameis Winston has time to throw. And that’s a big if.
George Kittle has an electric 2018 season with 88 receptions and 1377 receiving yards. Kittle has launched himself into the elite tight end conversation, with a huge frame and an exceptional ability to get yards after the catch.
Kittle is a major mismatch for this Buccaneers defense, but the wide receiver core is nothing special. You can argue that Dante Pettis is an up and coming wide out but he still has much to prove. Even Marquise Goodwin, who ran a 4.27 40 yard dash in 2013, seems to have lost some of his burst.
Kyle Shanahan has proven himself as an elite offensive mind in the NFL after a spectacular 2017 season with the Atlanta Falcons. But his weapons included Julio Jones, Matt Ryan and Devonta Freeman, a notch above what San Francisco’s offense.
In conclusion, this game will rely heavily on the offensive line of the Buccaneers. If Jameis Winston can create by time in the pocket this offense should be able to score enough points for a victory. But if we see a repeat of the Browns preseason game, you can kiss the chances of victory goodbye.