49ers vs Buccaneers: Match Ups That Will Impact the Outcome.

After passing a huge test on the road last week against Philadelphia, the San Francisco 49ers face another tough opponent at Candlestick on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both teams sport a favorable 3-1 record and have achieved their success in similar fashion.

After blowing out Seattle in week one thanks to Ted Ginn, Jr, the Niners have played three games in a row where the winning score was decided by five points or less. Similarly, all four games that the Bucs have played have been won by seven points or less.

While some would argue that San Francisco doesn't need this win as much as the Bucs, I would argue that the 49ers players and coaches are not setting their sights on simply winning the NFC West. It is safe to say that both teams will be motivated and ready to lay it all on the line come game time.

I predict that this will turn out to be another hotly contested matchup. There are a few individual and positional match ups that will determine the outcome of the game. I'm sure there are others, but here are a few of the ones that I'll be watching for.

49ers Offensive line vs. young Bucs defensive line

This is surely the most important one to win for the 49ers. If you are reading this, then surely there is no need to document how miserably our offensive line has performed thus far. There were some glaring issues in the game against Philadelphia, and that was with our new and improved lineup.

The Buccaneers front line on defense features some solid, up and coming talent that has already managed to get good pressure on quarterbacks. Last year's #1 draft pick, Gerald McCoy, is living up to the high hopes that they had for him. This year's pick, Adrian Clayborn, has showed flashes and has picked up a couple of sacks already. As a unit, they have managed the run pretty well and have an 11th ranked defense in that category.

Alex Smith really shined in the second half of the last game vs Philly because he was getting enough time in the pocket. The line was also able to finally get some forward progress and create some running lanes, but that was against the much maligned Eagles run defense. This will be a stern test for the players. Lets hope they remember their assignments and execute.

Bucs Offensive line and Blount object vs the Niners front seven

After the frustrating news of Isaac Sopoaga's staph infection on top of Will Tukuafu's placement on the IR, the 49ers are suddenly looking thin on the defensive line. Many of us are excited for DeMarcus Dobbs to get an opportunity to contribute, but he is untested. Ian Williams might see some playing time as well.

This test coincides with the arrival of LeGarrette Blount, who is competing with Frank Gore for most aptly named NFL running back. Last season, he was the back who gave our defense the biggest trouble and threatened to break our streak of not allowing a 100 yard rusher when he gained 86 yards. After getting off to a slow start this season, he is looking to be the same wrecking-ball-run-you-over-hurdle-over-you-beast-of-a-load at running back.

Ricky Jean Francois needs to step up and have a huge game for us. Willis and Bowman might have large tackle totals by the time this one is said and done.

I predict another sub 100 yard day for our defense, but the Bucs will stay dedicated to the run all game long.

Josh Freeman vs 49ers secondary

At the quarter point of this season, the 49ers secondary owns the 27th ranked passing defense. They have proven to be very susceptible to getting torched for huge chunks of yardage. With Shawntae Spencer out of practice and Tramaine Brock out of the game, this is a very tenuous situation for the team.

Rookie Chris Culliver will get his fill of opportunities against the young Bucs receivers. He has all the physical tools to succeed, and he hasn't looked bad so far in his limited action.

Although they give up some big plays, the secondary has been stellar in the red zone. The team boasts the number one defense in the league in allowing touchdowns in the red zone with a stellar 28.57%.

The Niners secondary has also been effective at creating turnover, having had at least one interception in each of their first four games.

Josh Freeman is a tough young quarterback that will find ways to buy time in the pocket in the same manner as Ben Roethlisberger (thanks to Drew Kerr for that bit of analysis). As fierce as the front 7 has been in their ability to get an effective pass rush, Freeman will still have his opportunities to fire away downfield.


I expect this game to be another nail-biter for a while. I am hopeful that the 49ers can run the ball effectively against the Bucs. If they do, then they can continue to build on the success that we started in Philadelphia. I am not too concerned about the defense, even though we lost a couple of key players in Sopoaga and Brock. The next guys in line will play their role and the 49ers will come away with another impressive victory in this exciting turn around season.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.