Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports


49ers vs. Buccaneers: 5 X-factors for San Francisco in Week 1

Sep 8, 2019 at 8:53 AM0


The San Francisco 49ers kick off Week 1 of their 2019 campaign on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and these five X-factors will play a huge role in whether or not the Niners come away 1-0.


It's weird to think the San Francisco 49ers are playing something like a must-win game right out of the gate, this time in Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

While the game isn't a must-win one, of course, it feels like it. The Niners' 2019 schedule isn't particularly easy, especially in the latter half, and they have won just five games on the road over the last four years.

Starting off strong and bucking the road-woes trend will be on head coach Kyle Shanahan's Week 1 to-do list, and there are quite a number of elements and X-factors playing into the eventual results.

Here are five of them to watch during the game.

Containing Mike Evans


When Tampa Bay embarrassed the 49ers 27-9 in Week 12 last year, Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans managed 116 yards on six receptions, beating both Niners cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon in the process.

Sherman and Witherspoon likely start again to kick off the year, which means a rematch in this department. And the 49ers hope a revamped pass rush takes away some of the pressure on what is still a questionable secondary. Regardless, Evans is a player who can take over a game, as his 1,524 receiving yards in 2018 suggest.

Evans was dealing with a flu earlier this week, but the latest reports suggest he'll play.

Handling the Buccaneers Blitz


Tampa Bay owned the second-worst scoring defense in 2018, allowing a whopping 464 points. So it's no surprise the Bucs brought in some added defensive talent during the offseason, namely defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and EDGE Shaquil Barrett. On top of that, former New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles returns to take over defensive coordinator duties under head coach Bruce Arians.

Bowles favors blitz packages and overloads, meaning the Buccaneers are going to be generating a lot of pressure during the game.

Recognizing the blitzes will fall heavily on center Weston Richburg, who is still questionable for the contest after just being taken off the PUP list during the preseason. If he's unable to go, Ben Garland will continue to serve in Richburg's stead.

For those wondering if quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo can handle the heat early, Week 1 provides a good challenge.

Heat and Humidity


Speaking of the heat, the temperature in Tampa at kickoff is predicted to be 92 degrees with a humidity of 49 percent. San Francisco tried a unique approach to acclimate players to the hot and humid conditions in Week 1, popping up a sauna-like tent outside its practice facility earlier in the week:


There will be on-field elements, too, including plenty of oxygen, fluids and IVs available for players.

That said, it won't be shocking to see a number of players succumb to heat-related injuries, particularly cramps and exhaustion. The 49ers hope it won't be too big a factor. If it is, though, the Niners could be forced to test their depth early and often.

Winning the Turnover Differential


No team was as bad in the turnover department as San Francisco in 2018. The Niners generated a record-low seven turnovers last season, including just two interceptions. And they weren't good at protecting the ball, either, losing possessions this way 32 times -- third highest in the league.

Part of this was due to the 49ers boasting a poor secondary, which remains largely unchanged entering this season. Pro Football Focus ranked San Francisco's defensive backfield 29th in the NFL heading into 2019. But if there's a glimmer of hope for the Niners, the Buccaneers secondary was ranked dead last in the same ranking.

And while the 49ers weren't good at protecting the ball last season, the Bucs were far worse, losing turnovers 35 times in 2018 -- worst in the NFL a year ago.

Whichever secondary takes more advantage of turnovers likely winds up being on the winning side on Sunday.

49ers Pass Rush vs. Buccaneers Offensive Line


PFF also dished out a ranking extremely favorable to San Francisco in this particular contest, putting Tampa Bay's offensive line at No. 24 overall hitting the regular season.

This unit was particularly terrible during the Buccaneers' regular-season tuneup against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3 of the preseason, as quarterback Jameis Winston was under regular pressure throughout the contest. And he looked more than shaky as a result.

The Niners, meanwhile, will have a clean bill of health along their defensive line, as edge rushers Dee Ford (knee) and Nick Bosa (ankle) are expected to play for the contest. Combined with the 49ers' three other first-round draftees up front -- DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas -- Ford and Bosa should get a pretty juicy opportunity to showcase why San Francisco revamped its pass rush during the offseason.

If the idea that a good pass rush can cover up a questionable secondary is true, San Francisco will provide some good evidence in Week 1.

The 49ers and Buccaneers kick off on Sunday, Sept. 8 at 4:25 p.m. ET from Raymond James Stadium.
  • 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.
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



Baldinger expects Trey Lance 'to be on the field' for 49ers in Week 1

By David Bonilla
Jul 22, 2021

Having a veteran quarterback looking over his shoulder at a high-selection rookie passer is the recipe for a compelling NFL storyline. That will be one of the most talked-about storylines coming out of Santa Clara starting next week when the San Francisco 49ers report to training camp. The plan is to have Jimmy Garoppolo start Week 1 and, assuming he remains healthy, for as long as possible throughout the season. The 49ers traded up to select Lance at No. 3 overall, though, surrendering future draft capital to do so. So now, everyone is trying to figure out when we might see Lance get on the football field for some regular-season action. Brian Baldinger doesn't think fans will have to wait long. No, he is not predicting a Week 1 start. However, the NFL Network



49ers training camp practice schedule and media availability - Week 1

By Site Staff
Jul 26, 2021

Training camp is about to kick off and the San Francisco 49ers will hold four consecutive days of practice starting on Wednesday. Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch will open the week by speaking to reporters on Tuesday, followed by select players. Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel are also scheduled to speak during the week. The 49ers will make the press conferences available at 49ers.com, and on the team's official mobile app and YouTube page. Below



49ers' Nick Bosa on track to play Week 1; DeMeco Ryans talks plans for Fred Warner, Samson Ebukam

By David Bonilla
Jul 29, 2021

It's been a long journey back for San Francisco 49ers pass rusher Nick Bosa. He suffered a devastating knee injury during Week 2 of last season and admitted the road to recovery was often "really rough" on him mentally. Bosa was entering his second NFL season and coming off an impressive campaign that earned him NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. The injury derailed everything. Luckily, he had the support of his family, including his brother, Los Angeles Chargers edge rusher Joey Bosa. "Once you get past the initial pain of [the injury], then there's really no other option but to come back better," Bosa told reporters after Thursday's practice. The coaching staff has limited Bosa during training camp practices. The defender is vital to the



2019 49ers vs. 2021 49ers, Part 1 (Offense)

By Marc Adams
Jul 23, 2021

How well do the 2021 49ers stack up to the 2019 team? Lately I have listened to some podcasts and read some tweets comparing the current San Francisco 49ers team (2021) to the 2019 team that fell just short of winning the Super Bowl. I find the comparison interesting. And since many people quickly assume the 2021 49ers are not as good as the 2019 team, I wanted to take a look for myself. So as we prepare for the team to report on Tuesday, let's compare the two teams, position by position. For the purpose of this very scientific experiment, we will assume everyone is healthy (even though that never happens). Let's start on offense. The defensive comparison is coming soon. Offense Quarterback:


Featured

More by Peter Panacy

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone