By Max Luckan
One week after losing 27-6 to the Carolina Panthers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to defeat the Buffalo Bills by the same score. However, the Bucs struggled severely on offense, in what was really an unconvincing victory.
This week, the Bucs will be matched up with the San Francisco 49ers, a team much better than the Buffalo Bills. The 49ers have one of the best defenses in the league, meaning the Bucs will have to find a way to reignite their offense.
Certainly, San Francisco’s defense will not make life easy for Bucs rookie quarterback Mike Glennon. However, if the Bucs play well, they certainly have a shot to pull off an upset victory.
49ers Season Record
At the moment, the 49ers are sitting comfortably in second place in the NFC West with a 9-4 record. They are still behind the Seattle Seahawks, who have a record of 11-2 and have already secured at least a wild card berth in the playoffs. It is unlikely that the 49ers will catch the Seahawks for the division title.
This season, San Francisco has key wins over the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, and St. Louis Rams. However, they have also lost to the Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints. For this reason, their record is a little deceiving, as most of their wins have come against bad teams.
49ers on Offense
Actually, the 49ers offense has performed below average this season. The passing offense ranks last in the NFL, as they are currently averaging a mere 178.3 yards per game through the air. That statistic illuminates the struggles of quarterback Colin Kaepernick so far this season.
Meanwhile, though, the running game has been very strong for the 49ers. Currently, the ground game is ranked sixth in the league with an average of 133.2 yards per game. Due to this huge disparity between the two facets of the offense, it is no secret that the 49ers will try to establish the rushing attack early against the Bucs.
49ers on Defense
The 49ers have built quite the reputation for their strong defenses in recent years. This season is no different, as the team currently ranks fourth in the NFL in total defense, allowing only an average of 308 yards per game. And they do say that defense wins championships, so the 49ers are currently in decent shape.
It is widely known that San Francisco has premier pass rushers in defensive end Justin Smith and linebacker NaVorro Bowman. That is a focal point of their defense, however, the 49ers have suffered a plethora of injuries on this side of the ball this season, meaning they are quite vulnerable at times.
49ers Players to Watch
Colin Kaepernick: At times, Kaepernick has struggled this season with turnovers. However, he is still one of the premier dual-threat quarterbacks in the league, so the Bucs have to be prepared.
Frank Gore: As usual, Gore has provided the bulk of the 49ers offense this season. He’s 69 yards short of 1,000 on the season and he will almost certainly achieve that against the Bucs.
Ahmad Brooks: Brooks actually leads the 49ers in sacks with 8.5 on the season. He’s probably the team’s best pass rusher.
The Bucs have an abysmal all-time record of 5-16 against the 49ers. Last time these two teams played, the Bucs lost 48-3. But this will be head coach Greg Schiano’s first time facing the 49ers so things could be different.
For more Bucs news and updates, visit Bucs Central.
Max Luckan lives in Tampa, FL and is a sports writer covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL. Luckan has been covering the Buccaneers for a few years now. Max is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.