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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ 5 Keys to Victory vs. Buccaneers

Nov 18, 2023 at 10:45 AM

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The 6-3 San Francisco 49ers host the 4-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. The Buccaneers sit a half game behind the NFC South division leaders, the New Orleans Saints. A win on Sunday and a loss from the Saints can put the Buccaneers on top of their division and in position to earn a playoff spot.

The 49ers look to improve to 7-3 and remain the leaders of the NFC West, with their next opponent being Seattle. If the 49ers stick to these keys to victory, they will head to Seattle with an opportunity to create some breathing room in the Wild Wild West.

Stop the Run

The Buccaneers rank 32nd in rushing, averaging 78.1 yards per game. Their leading rusher, Rachaad White, has yet to rush for 100 yards in a single game. The 49ers rank fourth in run defense, allowing 83.1 per game through Week 10. In stopping the run, the 49ers will force the Buccaneers to become one-dimensional by having to throw all game.

The 49ers want to force Baker Mayfield to throw the ball. This will give the team's secondary a chance to tee off and perhaps become number one in turnovers after Week 11. If the 49ers want to win, they must stick to their plan and stop the run.

Beware the Screen Pass

Don't expect the quick-throw philosophy to disappear. Teams will still look to quickly get the ball out of the hands of their QB against the 49ers' pass rush. Most teams will do this with screen passes, which seems to be a weakness of the 49ers defense. If the 49ers take away the run, look for the Buccaneers to still try to get the ball to their running back Rachaad White. White has completed 50 receptions on 58 targets for 290 yards and two touchdowns. What's most impressive is the 13 first downs he has this season.

The 49ers tend to struggle defending the screen game, so expect linebacker Dre Greenlaw and company to be responsible for this game. The Buccaneers are not afraid to throw the ball short in this capacity, so the 49ers must be disciplined in calling out the screen and executing the defense. Since the 49ers plan to stop the run, they must also stop the run extension to secure the victory.

Get to the Quarterback

The one thing I've noticed about Baker Mayfield is that he doesn't mind pressure. He will stand in that pocket to the very last second to get the ball to one of his playmakers, such as Mike Evans or Chris Godwin. The 49ers' pass rush must get Mayfield down on the ground. If the team can recreate the same type of game plan, generate the same type of pressure, and produce similar results from the Jaguars game, it will be a long day for the Buccaneers' quarterback.

Mayfield hasn't been sacked more than three times in a game, but that may change this week against this ferocious defensive front of the 49ers. The Buccaneers rank fifth, only allowing 82 pressures in 2023. Their offensive line is above average and will be a task for the 49ers defensive front. The team will be victorious if the 49ers can penetrate the Bucs offensive line and get to the quarterback.

Contain Mike Evans

The 49ers' secondary will have their hands full against the All-Pro receiver, Mike Evans. Evans has 43 receptions, 737 yards, averages 17.1 per reception, and six touchdowns this season. He has faced the 49ers four times and has 20 catches for 284 yards and two touchdowns. In his most recent matchup against the 49ers, December 11, 2022, Evans was targeted nine times but only completed four receptions for 44 yards. The 49ers defense kept his production low and out of the end zone. Evans is Baker Mayfield's favorite target, and he will look to get the ball to his playmaker.

The 49ers played a lot of cover six against the Jaguars to eliminate any explosive plays to Calvin Ridley. Expect the 49ers defense to mirror that same game plan and attention to detail to the Buccaneer's star receiver. If the 49ers force everything underneath, wrap, and tackle, the 49ers will be looking at another victory.

Run the Ball Outside

The Buccaneers have a stout defensive front led by the All-Pro defensive tackle Vita Vea. Vea will look to take on the doubles, allowing the Buccaneer's linebackers to fill the holes and make stops on the run. He has 27 tackles, six for a loss, and four and a half sacks on the season.

The 49ers should get the outside zone game working again. With tackle Trent Williams fully practicing this week, expect Christian McCaffrey to have a day running the ball outside. By doing this, the 49ers will stretch the field horizontally and wear out the Buccaneers pass rush from the interior. This will allow the 49ers to run power up the middle and, more importantly, open up the play-action passing game.

49ers tight end George Kittle will be most happy if the 49ers run the ball outside, and it will be another day at the IHOP. Everyone loves pancakes.

This game is important to both teams as they look to secure a spot in the playoff hunt. Although the 49ers are the leaders of the west, the Seahawks are creeping to claim that spot with a 49ers loss. If the 49ers want to remain on top, they must stick to the Keys to Victory.
  • Written by:
    Wayne Breezie is a 49ers content creator. He had his first guest appearance on Ronbosports in 2012. He began writing for a Facebook group called the League of the 49ers. Next, he began writing for Nothing But Niners in 2017. In 2018, Wayne Breezie made his debut on YouTube’s Nothing But Niners show. In 2019, he started his podcast called Nitty Gritty Niners. After putting the pen down for several years, Breezie saw an opportunity to write for His first published article was in January of 2022 with 49ersCap, and he currently writes and produces weekly podcasts.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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