The San Francisco 49ers finished Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with 11 penalties for 87 yards. The 49ers managed to leave Raymond James Stadium on Sunday with the 31-17 victory, but the yellow flags flying through the air didn't help. It's something that needs to be cleaned up if the team hopes to continue racking up wins.

"We hurt ourselves a lot, just offensive penalties left and right," tight end George Kittle said after the game. "If we can clean those up — because I think we spotted them 21 points. When you're doing that, it's kind of hard to win games."

The victory was especially meaningful for Kittle, but maybe not for the reason you might expect. It wasn't because it was the first opening-day win of the young tight end's NFL career or his first road win on the East Coast. Winning in that particular stadium was special for Kittle, and the reason dates back to his college playing days.

"Well, my favorite thing is I've never won in this stadium," Kittle said. "I lost two Outback Bowls (January 1, 2014, and January 2, 2017) here, plus last year, so I'm kind of excited to get that monkey off my back. It was a big thing for me today. It was my focus. That win was big for me."

The 49ers offense wasn't overly impressive in the victory. That wasn't Kittle's fault, though. The tight end caught eight passes for 54 yards and nearly had a couple of touchdowns, had it not been for penalties against fullback Kyle Juszczyk and tackle Mike McGlinchey.

"I'm pretty sure Juice and McGlinchey are playing against me in fantasy football," Kittle joked. "So I'm pretty sure that's what that was, so that's not my fault."

Kittle may not have been able to get into the end zone, but luckily, the 49ers defense brought its A-game, and the defensive front was as impactful as advertised. It helped create four takeaways, including three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

Keep in mind that the 49ers defense recorded just two total interceptions all of last season. That set a new NFL record for the fewest in a single season.

The defensive performance helped motivate the offense.

"Watching Nick Bosa get sacks and watching Dee Ford get strip fumbles, it gets the offense going when your defense is playing like that," Kittle said. "[Richard Sherman] with the pick-six, Ahkello (Witherspoon) with the pick-six, it just gets you fired up.

"It's hard to watch an offense go down on your defense (for) like a 12-play drive for a touchdown. That kind of drains the offense too, sitting there. When your defense makes those big plays, it just gets everyone excited, and it gets the offense moving. It's good vibes, really. It just gets you going."

Added Kittle, "Our defense responded. They definitely carried us that game, and they gave us just enough opportunities to close the game out."

The 49ers remained on the East Coast and are in Youngstown, Ohio this week as they prepare for their Week 2 contest against the Cincinnati Bengals.