Every Friday before the San Francisco 49ers play, we’ll do a round table where we predict what will happen. This may be one of the only weeks where everyone predicts a victory.
I’m expecting plenty of points in this one. It will look like two teams that are still trying to figure things out on defense. That will lead to big plays and coverage busts for both teams. The difference will be turnovers and pressure. Jimmy Garoppolo gets off to a slow start but comes out firing in the second half. Deebo Samuel scores his first touchdown, but Dante Pettis is the star of the game.
Defensively, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard each have big plays, but the offensive line isn’t able to protect Jameis Winston as the game goes on. Unlike last season, expect an interception from the Niners defense, and it will be from a certain free safety starting his first game. 27-24, good guys.
49ers win, 21-10
Let me once again remind you: five sacks. That’s how many Jameis Winston took in the FIRST HALF against the Cleveland Browns. Yes, this can be credited to Cleveland having one of the best defensive lines in the league, but that’s just awful. If the 49ers run in here with Bosa, Ford, and others, it might not be near as large, but that’s still going to cause problems for Winston, who when not getting sack has a knack for turning the ball over.
The Buccaneers have far too many issues right now to be productive in the passing game. That line isn’t going to buy time for Mike Evans to take the top off a defense and the Buccaneers run game isn't’ that great either.
Plus the 49ers have Mitch Wishnowsky, Punterville will be feasting on good field position. Field position which will hurt the Buccaneers more. 49ers start 1-0.
49ers win 34-31.
There are two keys to the game for the 49ers on Sunday: Keeping it simple for Jimmy Garoppolo and Co. against an impressive Tampa Bay defense, while unleashing their vaunted defensive front on Jameis Winston and the Buc’s suspect offensive line. This might be the easiest game of 2019 for Kyle Shanahan’s squad, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy.
49ers win 21-17
The most important factor in beating the Bucs is keeping Garoppolo upright and free from the clutches of Ndamukong Suh in the middle of the Bucs 3-4 defense. The 49ers offensive line struggled in the preseason with pass protection, and it remains to be seen if center Weston Richburg is fully healthy despite missing the preseason and being reactivated. The second most important factor is the 49ers pass rush. Bosa and Ford are both expected to play and combined with Buckner and Thomas, that could spell disaster for the turnstile offensive line the Bucs run on the field and a scenario where Jameis Winston is running for his life. Oh, and they’ll also be dealing with 90+ degree temperatures and 80% humidity on game day. It should be fun!
49ers win, 23-17
Jimmy Garoppolo returns after missing time due to an ACL injury last season in Kansas City. Tampa Bay has a nice collection of playmakers on their defense which could make things difficult for Kyle Shanahan’s offense. As previously stated, the major key to the game for San Francisco will be to keep their quarterback upright while making sure he has enough to make his reads and get the ball where it needs to be. I think we see some jitters on offense, but the defense will rule the day as the Bucs probably don’t have what it takes to keep up with the likes of DeForest Buckner who now has help along the edge with the additions of free agent Dee Ford and first-round pick Nick Bosa.
49ers win, 30-27
Take the over. It promises to be hot in Tampa on Sunday, and nobody will be sweating more than the defensive backs. I expect both offenses to move the ball, with the game coming down to who turns the ball over more. Speaking of which, a canary in the coal mine to watch for in Week 1: If the 49ers don’t force any turnovers out of giveaway-prone Jameis Winston, that will bode very poorly for them moving forward. This is their first, best chance to prove that last season’s turnover deficit crisis is a thing of the past. The Niners D will bend often, and may even break once or twice, but I think the improved pass rush going against the Bucs suspect O-line will result in the defense at least matching last season’s interception total (two) in Week 1 alone. In a tight affair, Richard Sherman’s first pick as a 49er ices it late.
49ers win 30-23
I expect Bruce Arians to test the 49ers secondary early and often, but the Bucs porous offensive line might not be able to buy QB Jameis Winston that kind of time. Jameis frequently makes poor decisions under pressure, and I expect that to translate into 2-3 turnovers for the Niners. On offense, we should see a heavy dose of Breida on the ground and Kittle in the air. Deebo will punch one in on an end-around or quick slant to the house. Look for the 49ers to establish a comfortable lead early with the Bucs making a late run in the 4th - pulling within seven. But that’ll be as close as they get, as Ford, Bosa, Buckner, and company close the game out with a few perfectly timed sacks on the final drive - including on a fourth and long -to seal the deal.
49ers win 24-20
As the old saying goes, “this game’s going to be won in the trenches.” The Buccaneers’ biggest weakness happens to be their offensive line, while one of the 49ers’ greatest strengths is their defensive line. Advantage: San Francisco. On the flip side, San Francisco’s offensive line will have to work hard to make sure they keep quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo upright the entire afternoon.
If the 49ers can dominate both lines of scrimmage, there is a very decent chance that they walk out of Tampa Bay with a 1-0 record. Buccaneers’ new head coach Bruce Arians will test the 49ers’ inexperience in the secondary, but that also opens up the opportunities for a Jameis Winston turnover.
While the 49ers are traveling across the coast, they have a 4:25 PM ET start — which bodes well for teams traveling to the Eastern Time Zone. If this season’s going to live up to all the expectations that fans have in the Bay Area, Kyle Shanahan’s crew can’t lose this one.
49ers win 35-31
I predict a shootout. Sure, there are questions about the Bucs’ offensive line after the preseason, but Bruce Arians’ ability to coach up an offense cannot be underestimated. I see the Bucs jumping out to a 14-0 lead early while Garoppolo shakes off some rust against Bowles’ blitzing defense, but then some of that 2017 magic appears, and he leads the 49ers to a TD to end the half 14-7. In the second half, we match them score for score until our D-Line takes over with three straight sacks to end the game.
Joe the Wizard
49ers win, 31 – 17
I think we are going to get our first taste of just how delicious our new pass rush is. Between Buckner, our new added talent and the way Kris Kocurek has fine-tuned our defensive line, this is going to be a real treat. I also think we did a lot to strengthen our linebacker position and it is going to be very apparent now that we are past the mundane play calling of the preseason games. I would not be surprised at all if a linebacker gets an interception and takes it to the house. I am also predicting Moore gets his first interception.
49ers win, 24-16
The 49ers’ defensive line can dominate their opponents, and I expect them to do so, hassling Jameis Winston as he tries to execute Bruce Arians’ slower developing deep hitters. Concurrently, the linebackers and defensive backs equal the 49ers’ interception numbers from a year ago and generally make life difficult for the Bucs’ receivers to get any YAC. A couple of bombs to Mike Evans reveals the best receivers will still cause the 49ers problems though.
Meanwhile, on offense, the 49ers’ interior offensive line has a few issues, though the 49ers still get the running game going at a reasonable lick. Short field from a couple of Bucs turnovers helps get points, and the offense manages to play mostly error-free football. It’s not especially pretty, but the team slugs it out in the Tampa heat and humidity to open the year 1-0.
49ers win, 27-21
The 49ers defensive line looks at last complete with a string of first-round selections that will line-up at Tampa Bay on Sunday. With Bruce Arians at the reins, I expect that the Bucs will be looking to move the ball through the air often, and take their shots deep. Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Deforest Buckner, and company can and should dominate the trenches and give Winston fits as the game progresses on. This, in turn, should help a secondary led by Richard Sherman. The defense will give up points on the first cross-country road trip of the season, but will also keep the Bucs out of the end zone enough for tough road victory.
On offense, while there may be some rust and miscommunication at first, I believe Jimmy Garoppolo will settle in and have a respectable return from his ACL injury from last season. He will be well supported by George Kittle who should have a field day against this Bucs defense, as well as a well balanced running attack between Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida. I am also predicting a big-play moment from burner Marquise Goodwin. Lastly, this might be the best offensive line the team has had since the Jim Harbaugh era. We will find out on Sunday for sure. Once the offense is settled in, Garoppolo and company will put up enough points to earn a much-deserved victory on the road.
Defensively I believe the front seven will impose their will on passing downs and in the RedZone. Chasing Jameis Winston is the task for this week, and he can be fire and ice. Getting pressure upfront and making him uncomfortable in the pocket will minimize his likeliness to be efficient.
Offensively I think there will be many opportunities to create big plays as well as a few hiccups. The offense will move the ball consistently if they avoid momentum-killing penalties. Jimmy Garoppolo will need to be decisive and throw with conviction. Protection will obviously play a huge part, but the plays that take time to develop, Jimmy must stand strong in the pocket and drive the ball. Throwing off the back foot is not the way to go for Jimmy.
Overall, I see the Niners coming out victorious 27-20 Sunday afternoon. Defense forcing two turnovers, Offense with one give away.