Tale Of The Tape: San Francisco 49ers At Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- QuarterbackThe 49ers are playing to prepare for the postseason, and Colin Kaepernick should get a good test from the surging Tampa Bay Bucs. Kaepernick’s athleticism should give him an advantage over the Tampa Bay defense, which is just average. Kaepernick is at his best when throwing on the run. If he can throw accurately from the pocket, the Niners should have a big day.The Bucs have turned it around dramatically after their miserable start, as Mike Glennon has directed the Bucs to wins in four of their last five games. Glennon is very comfortable in the pocket and he can also buy time with his athleticism. While he struggled in the Week 14 win over the Bills – 9-of-25 for 90 yards with two TDs and two interceptions – Glennon usually makes the right decision with the ball.
- OffenseThe 49ers want to impose their will with their running attack. Few running backs are better equipped to do that than Frank Gore, who has all the skills needed to get the most out of each run, but loves to punish opposing tacklers. Anquan Boldin is a big-time playmaker who will make the tough catch in traffic, while tight end Vernon Davis can stretch the field.The Bucs have gotten a huge contribution from third-string running back Bobby Rainey, who runs with a purpose every time head coach Greg Schiano calls his number. He ran for 127 yards and had an 80-yard TD run vs. the Bills in Week 14. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson can dominate a game with his strength and long reach. Timothy Wright is an emerging weapon at tight end.
- DefenseThe 49ers have one of the more ferocious defensive teams in the NFL, as they combine a stout front wall with excellent preparation. Inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman is one of the best tacklers in the league because he combines outstanding quickness and instincts with great leverage. Ahmad Brooks is becoming a top pass rusher because he comes around the corner with speed and purpose.The Bucs have played hard on defense all year and they will try to challenge the Niners, but they have made mistakes that cost them field position and points. Outside linebacker Lavonte David is the unit’s best player. He had nine tackles, 1.0 sack and two interceptions in the win over the Bills and he has 117 tackles for the season. Strong safety Mark Barron is also a big hitter.
- Special TeamsThe Niners can turn any game around with their special teams. Kassim Osgood can turn any game around because he excels in coverage. He blocked a punt vs. the Seahawks in Week 14. Placekicker Phil Dawson is one of the best in the league.The Bucs have been rather ordinary on special teams most of the year. While they haven’t given up any game-changing returns, they haven’t made any either. Rian Lindell has missed several makeable FG attempts this year and is just ordinary.
No teams like to travel 3,000 miles to play on the opposite coast, but the 49ers are not going to travel to Florida without the proper preparation. They are bigger and stronger than the Bucs, and if they get off to a decent start they should roll past Tampa Bay. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor