There was nothing elegant about the San Francisco 49ers loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Nothing. The 49ers are decimated by injuries and are just trying to get out of the season without any more disasters. Of course, they failed at that because Jimmie Ward went down with a broken arm in the first quarter of the game.
I said the 49ers would win if they could generate turnovers and they did none of that. Then again, I doubt turnovers would have helped with the product turned in Sunday.
I really don’t know if there’s an ‘if, and’ statement to be made, but I’m giving it a shot.
The 49ers would have won if...
They had a consistent offense. This isn’t something place squarely on Nick Mullens’ shoulders or a specific player (the running backs can be eliminated from this entirely), but aside from Matt Breida, the 49ers offense was collective garbage. George Kittle, their lone weapon in the passing game was blanketed by defenders, some of it grab-happy, others just good coverage, but Kittle was held in check for most of the day. This opened things up for Dante Pettis (which netted a touchdown), but the team did not take advantage of Pettis’ openings. 77 yards and a touchdown is pretty nice for the rookie wide receiver, but it really could have been a lot more.
Then there’s the offensive line that seemed to remember they were the 49ers offensive line and dropped the excellent play they’ve had of late. Mullens had his moments holding the ball too long, but he more was running for his life at the snap. It all results in a team that could not answer the bell when the Buccaneers offense exploded, and since you can’t count on the 49ers defense pressuring them or stopping those deep throws, well, this is what you get.
The 49ers lost because...
Their defense can’t generate consistent pressure if their lives depended on it. This probably explains why leads are blown so much in the final minutes, but there wasn’t much to screw up here as the 49ers came out and gave the Buccaneers the game a few minutes into the third quarter.
Where were the turnovers? The Buccaneers just love to throw the ball into the most wrong places, but the 49ers secondary was nowhere to be found on any of them. Miscommunication, soft zones, and Mike Evans running free cost them dearly. I haven’t even gotten to the Buccaneers running game, which looked satisfactory today.
This was an awful game and a result of the backups playing for backups roster that the 49ers are left with. Better hang on, with Jimmie Ward now out with a broken arm, it’s only going to get uglier.