Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Evans asked Ahkello Witherspoon on Sunday if the 49ers knew the Buccaneers’ plays

Sep 11, 2019 at 2:49 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers defense came out on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and shocked a few within the media. They knew the potential was there for the unit to be good, but the defense carried the 49ers to a win against the Buccaneers.

At least one Tampa Bay player, wide receiver Mike Evans, was equally impressed with the Week 1 performance and even (probably jokingly) questioned if maybe the 49ers might have had a little bit of inside information as he complimented the effort of third-year cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon.

"He just told me I did a really good job, honestly," Witherspoon told reporters on Wednesday when asked what the two were talking about after the game. "He was asking me — I don't know if I'm supposed to say this — but he was asking me if we knew the offense. I was like 'No, we're just out here playing ball, my man, but thanks for the compliment.'

"Yeah, it was crazy. It was like 'No, not at all, but can sign [your jersey] for me?' It was funny."

The two exchanged jerseys and went their separate ways. Witherspoon doesn't know Evans, but this was the second time the two-time Pro Bowler came over to speak with the defender after going head-to-head against him.

"Last year, he said something to me after the game," Witherspoon continued. "He liked how I played. This year, once again, I was coming in with that mentality to dominate him and take his jersey, so it was pretty cool."

Witherspoon had a pretty good outing against the Buccaneers. He finished the game with two tackles, three passes defensed and hauled in a pick-six. The performance earned the cornerback the top grade (80.8) in the game among the 49ers' defensive players, according to Pro Football Focus.

Evans, meanwhile, was limited to two catches for 28 yards.

Witherspoon has learned from his first two NFL seasons and feels he is a more complete player this year.

"Just going through it, learning from my previous mistakes, I think that's the biggest key," Witherspoon said. "Just knowing what I've done wrong in the past and then when you're in the fire again, just know how to approach it differently."

Witherspoon was worried about another potential mistake as he raced to the end zone after hauling in a Jameis Winston-thrown pass. He quickly flashed back to a scolding he received from his college coach at Colorado.

"My only (pick-six) in my career was actually in the spring game, and I got in trouble, actually, for holding the ball out by my head coach," Witherspoon said. "So it was kind of funny that when I got it (against Tampa Bay), I had the ball out.

"I was thinking how terrible my ball security was. I guess that was just my immediate reaction. I was so hyped, I couldn't really think. It was just get in the end zone and go crazy."

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