Tampa Bay Buccaneers - TeamReport
NFL Team Report - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - INSIDE SLANT
In 1997, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened the regular season against a San Francisco 49ers team that were defending Super Bowl champions. They won 13-7 in what amounted to a transformative victory for a Tampa Bay franchise that had been mired in losing seasons.
NFC champions who lost in the Super Bowl to the Baltimore Ravens.
It's another opportunity for the Bucs (4-9) to signal they are headed in the right direction, this time under coach Greg Schiano.
Unfortunately, the 49ers (9-4) have won three straight games, including last week against Seattle, and show no signs of slowing down. They need to continue winning to at least secure a wild-card in the NFC.
Schiano knows his team is undermanned, especially on offense behind rookie quarterback Mike Glennon.
Aside from the 49ers stars, including linebackers Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith, defensive tackle Justin Smith, quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running back Frank Gore, Schiano said they have the best offensive line Tampa Bay has faced and biggest special teams.
"San Francisco is strong just about at every position; there's a reason that they were a pass interference away from winning the Super Bowl," Schiano said. "Just name a position, I'll give you a guy that's a Pro Bowl level player."
The 49ers boast one of the league's top defenses, and they're physical on both sides of the ball, Schiano said. Of all the weapons San Francisco has, from tight end Vernon Davis to wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin, the Bucs say they're expecting them to set the tone on the ground with running back Frank Gore.
"They have a good offense that is going to come in here and just try to maul us," Schiano said. "And we're going to have to be able to stand up to that."
Most of the pressure will be on Glennon, who is coming off back-to-back games in which he failed to play winning football. Glennon passed for only 90 yards in last Sunday's win over the Buffalo Bills and has four turnovers in his past two games.
Schiano felt Glennon was mentally exhausted and gave him the day off Monday.
"We gave him off because we just wanted to make sure he got some rest, he's been working so hard and he's been getting hit," Schiano said. "He's been playing against some really good fronts and he's been taking shots. I've said to you guys before I liken it to being in a car accident. When you get hit by these 300-plus d-linemen it's not very unlike being in a car accident except we ask you to get up and play the next play, usually they take you somewhere. When it happens over and over again, you want to give the guy a little rest. With that being said, I think he's progressing, I think he's understanding things better and better, we're playing better defenses each week, better pass rush, it's become more of a challenge for a rookie quarterback without a doubt. I'm pleased with his progress and we just have to keep moving him on that trajectory."
Defensively, the Bucs have been living off turnovers. They lead the NFL in interceptions with 21 and are a plus-13 in turnover ratio, which ranks second in the league.
The 49ers haven't been lighting up the scoreboard. But Kaepernick's weapons are getting healthy and he is playing more like the quarterback that led his team to the Super Bowl.
"We've struggled putting points on the board - we have to score points, without a doubt," Schiano said. "They have a good offense that is going to come in here and just try to maul us and we're going to have to be able to stand up to that. They have now Crabtree back. He and Anquan Boldin, you look at their receiving core it's a Pro Bowl receiving core with their tight end Davis, he may be the fastest of everybody on the field at the wideout position. You're talking about a rare group of guys and we're going to have to really be on point with the secondary. Then you throw Frank Gore in there who is still running at a very high level, great vision, patience, strength. I remember when we were recruiting Frank when I was down at the University of Miami. You should have seen his high school tape, phenomenal and he's only gotten better and better. You're talking about a great group of skill people and then a really, really good offensive line - probably the best offensive line we've been up against. It'll be a big challenge, so yeah, we're going to have to score some points for sure."
SERIES HISTORY: 21st regular-season meeting. 49ers lead series, 16-4. The teams have split the last two matchups. The Niners won 48-3 in 2011 and the Bucs shut out San Francisco 21-0 in 2010.
NFL Team Report - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - NOTES, QUOTES