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49ers generate defensive turnovers, beat Buccaneers 31-17 in Week 1

Sep 8, 2019 at 4:31 PM--

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1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
SF 3 3 14 11 31
TB 0 7 7 3 17

Both the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers struggled early, offensively, during this Week 1 bout at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. The Niners managed three trips into the red zone during the first half, getting field goals on just two of them, but having three touchdown plays negated by offensive penalties.

Meanwhile, the Buccaneers managed just 100 first-half yards. Yet they held a 7-6 lead at halftime, following quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tossing a pick-six interception to Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves at the 8:47 mark of the second quarter.

Garoppolo had his share of up-and-down moments, although hitting wide receiver Richie James at the 12:38 mark of the third quarter for a 39-yard touchdown helped right what had been an ugly offensive showing earlier:

For the day, Garoppolo was 18-of-27 for 166 yards, a touchdown against one interception and a passer rating of 80.2.

On the positive side, though, San Francisco's defense also managed to force turnovers after posting just seven defensive takeaways last season. Special teams linebacker Mark Nzeocha, who blocked a punt early in the game, picked off Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, whose pass to tight end O.J. Howard went off Howard's hands. Nzeocha relieved linebacker Kwon Alexander, who was disqualified from the game in the first half after hitting Winston head-to-head with his helmet late in the first half.

Defensive end Ronald Blair also managed a takeaway on a forced fumble.

But a bigger one came early in the third quarter, as cornerback Richard Sherman managed to pick off Winston and returned it 32 yards for a 49ers touchdown.

The pick marked San Francisco's second interception of the game, which tied the team's total number of picks from a year ago.

That gave the Niners a 20-7 lead and the momentum in the second half. Defensively, the 49ers went through a brief gut check after losing Alexander. Yet the defense generated turnovers, plus some stout efforts against Tampa Bay's run game, which helped thwart any Buccaneers offensive rhythm.

Rookie EDGE Nick Bosa, seeing his first NFL on-field action after missing the preseason with an ankle injury, managed to pick up his first career sack, too, although the Buccaneers managed to drive down the field and scored on a 10-yard pass from Winston to wide receiver Chris Godwin to make it 20-14.

It wouldn't have been a one-score game at that point if rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel didn't fumble in the red zone just before halftime, potentially negating a chance for the Niners to add seven points and assuredly denying the team another field-goal try from short distance. Considering kicker Robbie Gould's third field-goal try, from 57 yards out, missed the mark just short, Samuel's fumble seemed all the more critical.

It might have been smarter for head coach Kyle Shanahan to punt the ball in that latter situation, considering Winston had struggled and the Buccaneers had turned the ball over three times up to that point.

San Francisco also struggled in the penalty department, being flagged 11 times for 87 yards. Considering how close the game was in the waning minutes, only the slightest of bounces could have meant those penalties may have cost Shanahan a win to start the year. They didn't, though, and that's all that matters here.

Facing a 4th-and-goal, safety Tarvarius Moore managed to break up a would-be go-ahead Bucs touchdown pass. Had he intercepted it, though, Moore would have had a likely pick-six touchdown of his own.

Following a failed Niners drive the following possession, the Bucs cut the deficit to three after a 32-yard field goal. San Francisco added a field goal of its own late, but the final straw came off cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon's pick-six touchdown just before the two-minute warning, which after a successful two-point attempt, resulted in the Niners' 31-17 win and a 1-0 start to the season:

The 49ers recorded three interceptions on the game, besting last year's pick totals, and had four defensive takeaways in all. In 2018, the Niners had just seven takeaways.

San Francisco now travels to take on the 0-1 Cincinnati Bengals, who just lost on the road to the Seattle Seahawks.

SF Team Stats TB
17 First Downs 21
256 Total Yards 295
158 Pass Yards 174
98 Rush Yards 121
11 (87) Penalties (Yds) 8 (87)
2 Turnovers 4
2 (46) Punts (Avg) 2 (21)
30:04 Time of Pos. 29:56

49ers Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
J. Garoppolo 18/27 166 1 1
Rushing Att Yds TDs Lg
R. Mostert 9 40 0 18
M. Breida 15 37 0 13
T. Coleman 6 23 0 12
J. Garoppolo 2 -2 0 -1
Receiving Rec Yds TDs Lg
G. Kittle 8 54 0 19
D. Samuel 3 17 0 14
T. Coleman 2 33 0 31
R. James 1 39 1 39
K. Bourne 1 9 0 9
M. Goodwin 1 7 0 7
D. Pettis 1 7 0 7
R. Mostert 1 0 0 0
Fumbles Fum Lost Rec Yds
D. Samuel 1 1 0 0
R. Blair 0 0 0 0
Kicking FG Lg XP Pts
R. Gould 3/4 47 2/2 11
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
M. Wishnowsky 2 45.5 1 54
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
F. Warner 7-2 0 0 1
T. Moore 5-3 0 0 0
R. Sherman 4-1 0 1 0
J. Tartt 3-2 0 0 0
A. Armstead 2-3 1 0 0
D. Greenlaw 3-1 0 0 0
K. Alexander 3-0 0 0 0
N. Bosa 2-1 1 0 0
D. Buckner 2-0 0 0 0
A. Witherspoon 2-0 0 1 0
M. Nzeocha 2-0 0 1 0
D. Ford 1-0 1 0 1
E. Moseley 1-0 0 0 0
S. Day 1-0 0 0 0
D. Jones 1-0 0 0 0
R. Blair 0-1 0 0 0
K. Williams 0-1 0 0 0

Buccaneers Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
J. Winston 20/36 194 1 3
Rushing Att Yds TDs Lg
R. Jones 13 75 0 16
P. Barber 8 33 0 14
J. Winston 5 13 0 5
Receiving Rec Yds TDs Lg
D. Ogunbowale 4 33 0 11
O. Howard 4 32 0 15
C. Godwin 3 53 1 28
M. Evans 2 28 0 16
P. Barber 2 12 0 8
B. Perriman 2 10 0 5
C. Brate 2 8 0 7
R. Jones 1 18 0 18
Fumbles Fum Lost Rec Yds
J. Winston 2 0 1 -3
O. Howard 1 1 0 0
R. Jensen 0 0 1 0
C. Davis 0 0 0 6
Kicking FG Lg XP Pts
M. Gay 1/1 31 2/2 5
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
B. Pinion 2 21 1 39
Kickoff Returns No Avg TDs Lg
T. Logan 3 20 0 21
Punt Returns No Avg TDs Lg
B. Wilson 1 0 0 0
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
J. Whitehead 7-1 0 0 0
L. David 6-1 0 0 0
D. White 5-1 0 0 0
M. Stewart 4-1 0 0 0
D. Stewart 3-2 0 0 0
S. Barrett 3-1 1 0 0
W. Gholston 3-1 0 0 0
N. Suh 2-2 0 0 0
V. Hargreaves 2-1 0 1 0
C. Davis 2-1 0 0 0
V. Vea 2-1 0 0 0
C. Nassib 2-0 0 0 0
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.

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