Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports


Week 1: Three 49ers X-Factors vs. Buccaneers

Matthew Barr
Sep 5, 2019 at 12:00 PM



The San Francisco 49ers open their season in Florida against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Head coach Kyle Shanahan and company will be looking to get off to a fast start, hoping to erase the memory of the disastrous 2018 campaign. Football is very much a team sport, however, each week, certain players prove to be the key to success or failure. Here are the players who could make a difference on Sunday afternoon.

Running Back Matt Breida


Kyle Shanahan's offense ideally operates at a high level when the running game is moving the chains. When healthy, third-year running back Matt Breida has been as consistent as any runner Shanahan has had. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry and only fumbled the ball once on 180 touches out of the backfield last season. Breida appeared to pick up right where he left off with a stellar preseason that saw him carrying the ball at a 6.0 YPC clip and a fantastic diving touchdown reception against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo saw his fair share of ups and downs during his preseason action. After a horrid performance against the Denver Broncos, he bounced back and silenced some critics with a solid outing in Kansas City. As he returns from a torn ACL, the offense will rely upon Breida to shoulder the load and relieve pressure from Garoppolo against a stout pass rush. Breida's abilities in the outside zone run scheme and ever improving receiving skills can be the key to keeping Garoppolo on his feet.

Linebacker Kwon Alexander


Kwon Alexander enters Sunday's game with plenty to prove. The 49ers awarded the free agent with a 4-year, $54M contract despite the fact that he, like Garoppolo, is returning from a torn ACL. Alexander not only needs to show he is worth the money but also that his knee is fully healed and the Buccaneers made a mistake letting him walk after last season. Now running alongside fellow LB Fred Warner, Alexander is out to form the next great, young linebacker duo in the NFL.

Alexander's skillset is predicated on his ability to roam from sideline to sideline with blistering speed and his knack for locking down both receiving backs and tight ends in coverage. Tampa Bay boasts one of the best tight end tandems in the league with O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. In their 2018 matchup, Howard was sidelined with an injury but Brate was able to haul in a touchdown pass from QB Jameis Winston during their 27-9 victory. Warner's and Alexander's ability to take Winston's safety blankets away will be pivotal to slowing down the Buccaneers' offense.

Defensive End Nick Bosa


This year's second-overall pick Nick Bosa has faced a significant amount of criticism before ever suiting up in a 49ers' uniform. He was shut down for the entirety of the exhibition season after having his ankle rolled up on by an offensive lineman during training camp and has already been saddled with the "injury prone" label. To be frank, if his last name was anything else, this would not be the case. As Sunday approaches, it sounds more and more likely that he will be participating in the season opener.

Outside of DeForest Buckner, the 49ers' pass rush in 2018 was anemic and often left the secondary hung out to dry. Bosa had drawn praise from stalwart left tackle Joe Staley before being sidelined with the ankle injury and appeared to be worth every bit of the high draft pick. Sunday will be the measuring stick for just how effective he can be once the reps start to count. Tampa Bay's offensive line is not known for keeping Jameis Winston clean and Winston himself has a penchant for being careless with the ball when under pressure. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh may have Bosa on a pitch count, per se, but he will have to make the most out of his opportunities for the 49ers to leave Florida with a victory.
  • Matthew Barr
  • Written by:
    Matthew Barr has been writing for 49ers Webzone and 49ers Hub since 2018 and co-hosts the 4th and Gold podcast which can be found on all podcast platforms. He can be found on Twitter fighting an endless battle to get the underscore removed from his handle, @MattBarr_.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


0 Comments

  • No Comments

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



NFL exec on 49ers: "I just don't buy Kyle Shanahan moving up all the way to three for Mac Jones"

By David Bonilla
Apr 2, 2021

Mike Sando of The Athletic has been doing his rounds around the league, asking about the San Francisco 49ers trading up to the No. 3 overall pick to select a quarterback. Even with the top two picks considered a lock—Trevor Lawrence to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Zach Wilson to the New York Jets—no one is really certain about the 49ers' plan. There is speculation—a lot of it. Because of his history with quarterbacks like Kirk Cousins and Matt Ryan, many feel San Francisco traded up for Mac Jones of Alabama. Two NFL executives who spoke to Sando can see that happening. Whether or not they agree with the potential selection is another story. "I've heard they are really seriously thinking of Mac Jones and it would blow my mind,"



Fred Warner, Jason Verrett, three other 49ers receive performance-based bonuses

By David Bonilla
Apr 6, 2021

Five San Francisco 49ers players earned performance-based bonuses, per a report from NBC Sports Bay Area. They include linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, and defensive backs Jason Verrett and Tarvarius Moore. One offensive lineman, Daniel Brunskill, also earned the additional pay. Matt Maiocco has the breakdown of how much each earned via the performance-based bonuses. The NFL Management Council released Performance Based Pay for the 2020 season. The following #49ers earned additional $300K +:Daniel Brunskill



Brooks, Jeremiah project 49ers' first three picks in 2021 draft

By David Bonilla
Apr 7, 2021

NFL Media analysts Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah went through the exercise of predicting the first three picks for the San Francisco 49ers in this year's draft. The team currently owns one selection in each of the first three rounds — Nos. 3, 43, and 102 overall. The duo took turns during the Path to the Draft segment on NFL Network, with Brooks going first. Jeremiah recently had San Francisco selecting former Alabama quarterback Mac Jones in his latest mock draft. Brooks has been critical of the idea that head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch gave up so much draft capital to select



'I think they like all three': Schefter says 49ers keeping an open mind on QB draft prospects

By David Bonilla
Apr 11, 2021

Right now, if he were forced to make a guess, Adam Schefter is in the camp of those who would tell you that the San Francisco 49ers are drafting quarterback Mac Jones of Alabama with the No. 3 overall pick. However, there are still 18 days until the start of the 2021 NFL Draft, things are fluid, and things might change. Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch attended Jones' second pro day on March 30, picking that event over former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields' workout, which took place on the same day. That, of course, led to massive speculation that San Francisco prefers the Alabama quarterback to the former Buckeye or even Trey Lance of North Dakota State. Shanahan and Lynch are expected to be in attendance for the second pro days of


Featured

More by Matthew Barr

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone