The San Francisco 49ers head back on the road in Week 15 as they travel to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 49ers have won three straight games, and seem to be putting some things together at just the right time. They need every win they can get, but the Bucs could provide a challenge.
The line for this game opened with the 49ers installed as five point favorites. When I tweeted out the line, most people were surprised, expecting it to be larger. While the 49ers are better than the Bucs, it is worth noting the Bucs have won four of their last five games. They handled the Bills on Sunday, and before that, they beat the Lions on the road and Falcons and Dolphins at home. Their only loss in that stretch was to the Panthers in Charlotte.
This game presents a couple challenges for the 49ers. The first is getting up after the draining win over the Seahawks. Jim Harbaugh met with the media on Monday, and that was the first question he was asked. He answered in fairly standard Harbaugh-ese:
"Every game's a challenge. Every game's a big task. Tampa's playing extremely good football right now. I've been following them the last month, playing good ball. So, we're into that process right now. The players are making their bodies feel better and coaches have been game planning. We're moving onto the next one."
The second challenge is the early start. This marks the 49ers second game with a 10 a.m. PT start. The first one was against the Jaguars in London. The 49ers spent all week in London, so that start time really doesn't count the same. So, for all intents and purposes, this is the 49ers only impactful 10 a.m. PT start.
The 49ers can overcome the early start time, but we'll want to keep an eye out to see if the team comes out flat. I'd like to hope they can avoid that, but the early start combined with coming off an emotional win, and this has the makings of a trap game. Obviously the 49ers could come out and absolutely drill the Bucs, but we definitely can't get ahead of ourselves.