Making their only early morning East Coast start of the year, the 49ers dominated the Buccaneers on their way to a 33-14 win Sunday. The game was never really in doubt as the 49ers raced to a 17-0 lead in the first half before giving up a touchdown drive at the end of the half.
The 49ers defense was absolutely dominant in this win. They gave up a total of 183 yards of total offense, 159 of those coming on two drives. An on the offensive side, for the first time this season someone not named Davis or Boldin caught a touchdown pass when Michael Crabtree hauled in a Kaepernick pass on the opening possession to open the scoring in the game.
The 49ers playoff situation cleared up quite a bit as a result of the games yesterday. With losses by both Philadelphia and Dallas the only team that can catch them for the final wildcard spot is now the Cardinals who travel up to Seattle this week. The loss by New Orleans means that if the 49ers can win out they are assured of no worse than the #5 seed.
Here are the answers to the 5 burning questions I asked on Friday.
1) Is this a trap game? - No
"This week has all the makings of a trap game for the 49ers."
Not a chance. The 49ers were ready to go from the opening whistle, forcing a quick Tampa Bay three and out, then driving for a touchdown on their opening possession. By the time there was only 1:47 remaining in the first half the 49ers were up 17-0 and well on their way to victory.
2) Can the defense take advantage of Mike Glennon? - Yes
"Like the Panthers, the 49ers defense is among the best in the league and should be able to pose a number of problems for the rookie signal caller."
The Buccaneers had 11 total offensive possessions in the game, and on 9 of those the 49ers defense held Glennon to 4-18 passing for 34 yards. In fact, the 49ers defense held Glennon to only 34 yards on 4-10 passing until they had taken a 17-0 lead and went into a soft zone right before the end of the first half which led to a Tampa Bay touchdown.
During the second half Glennon again engineered a touchdown drive late in the 3rd quarter to bring the score to 20-14, but he would not complete another pass the rest of the day.
3) Will the 49ers offense be able to protect the football? - Yes
"Tampa Bay has a +13 turnover margin on the season, including +11 over their last 5 games. This may end up being the biggest key of the game."
Not only did the 49ers not turn the ball over against one of the best ball hawking teams in the league, they also dominated the time of possession. The 49ers 39:50 of possession time was their most in a game since 11/20/11 against Arizona. That total was helped out by a clutch drive in the 4th quarter when the 49ers answered a Buccaneer touchdown by driving 77 yards on 17 plays and taking 10:27 off the clock before Phil Dawson finished the drive with a field goal to extend the lead to 23-14.
4) How about that Vincent Jackson? - Held in check.
The 49ers defense focused their attention on slowing down Tampa Bay's touch biggest threats, Jackson and Tiquan Underwood. Yes, Jackson finished his day with 5 catches for 58 yards and a touchdown, but those numbers represent nearly 5 yards less per catch than his season average.
Underwood came into the game averaging over 20 yards per reception and was held to only 15 yards on 2 receptions for the day.
5) Can Colin Kaepernick keep the trend going? - Yes
"Colin Kaepernick leads the NFL with a QBR of 90.8 when playing against teams with a losing record at kickoff. In these matchups Kaepernick has thrown for 10 touchdown's with no interceptions."
Kaepernick backed those numbers up again today, finishing with a total QBR of 93.4 while throwing for 2 touchdowns.
Kaepernick was on fire throughout the first half as he went 11-13 for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air. He cooled off a bit in the third quarter, but made a clutch throw to Michael Crabtree after escaping the pocket on one third down play and later a big scramble later in the same 4th quarter drive for another key third down conversion.
49ers 23 Buccaneers 14
It looked like I might have the number nailed after Phil Dawson kicked a field goal late in the third quarter, but Tampa Bay special teams coordinator Dave Wannstedt called for a reverse on the ensuing kickoff which the Buccaneers fumbled and Kendall Hunter scooped up for a quick touchdown.