The San Francisco 49ers face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday, which means it is time for a little cross-blog discussion. Wednesday, Bucs Nation put together a look at under the radar players to watch, and I contributed some 49ers to consider.
Today, we're taking a look at reasons why each team will win. The 49ers are five point favorites, but the Bucs are playing some solid football lately. They've won four of five and have an imposing secondary. I spoke with Sander from Bucs Nation, and he provided some thoughts on why the Buccaneers will win Sunday's game. After that I've posted some thoughts on why the 49ers will win.
Why the Bucs will win
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can beat the San Francisco 49ers, and they'll have to go old school to do so: run the ball and play defense. That plays to San Francisco's strengths, too, but it's the only way the Bucs know how to win.
The Bucs certainly have the talent to shut down (or at least limit) the 49er's offense, especially if they continue to play the way they have in recent weeks. Last week's performance against the Buffalo Bills was nothing short of dominant, with seven sacks and five forced turnovers as evidence of that. The Bucs have elite talent at every level of their defense, it's just a matter of getting everyone to play like it.
The Bucs have to do the right thing schematically, something they have only rarely done this year. That will have to be different on Sunday if the Bucs want to win, but if they turn loose Gerald McCoy and use Darrelle Revis to create advantageous matchups elsewhere, Tampa Bay has a good shot of limiting the 49ers' offense.
On offense, the Bucs must find a way to consistently run the ball. Mike Glennon has regressed a little the past two weeks, and the passing game isn't consistent enough to exploit one of the strongest pass defenses in the NFL. Instead, the game will have to be won on the ground with Bobby Rainey leading the way.
That's something the Bucs can manage, at least. They've been inconsistent running the ball in recent weeks, but that was more about the defenses they've faced rather than their own inability to create running room. They haven't been dominant, of course, but they can open up holes -- especially so when they run man-blocking schemes that fit their personnel best. If they can run their offense through Bobby Rainey they'll have a great chance of beating San Francisco.
Why the 49ers will win
The 49ers are favorites, and they have the players on both sides of the ball to take care of business. On the offensive side of the ball, the 49ers will win this game if avoid turnovers and contain Gerald McCoy. The interior of the 49ers offensive line will be tested, particularly if left guard Mike Iupati misses another game, as expected. It appears McCoy could line up opposite Adam Snyder and Jonathan Goodwin.
This will be a huge matchup to watch given Snyder's inconsistencies. The 49ers likely will need to provide some double-teaming there. That means the right side of the offensive line will have to hold up in their one-on-one matchups. Additionally, if the team elects to double McCoy, we could see the Bucs overload the other side, meaning the running backs will need to be on their game in blocking. If the 49ers can contain McCoy, I think they can find success.
The Bucs lead the NFL in interceptions, so offensive miscues will need to be minimized. Darrelle Revis and Johnthan Banks will get their work opposite Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin. That conceivably opens up some opportunities for Vernon Davis. If Kap can connect, the 49ers can win the offensive side of this.
On the defensive side of the ball, much like what Sander said, it will come down to stopping Bobby Rainey. If the 49ers handle their business against Rainey, it will help put Mike Glennon in a position where has to make plays. That opens the door for turnovers, which the 49ers have been able to turn into points all season.