Head coach Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers’ team starts out the 2019 campaign on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with expectations of the playoffs overshadowing their offseason. If San Francisco is going to live up to the preseason hype and deliver on a playoff appearance, it has to begin with Week 1 at Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers are coming off of another disappointing season, leading to the hiring of former Cardinals’ head coach Bruce Arians. Quarterback Jameis Winston continues his roller coaster of a career, looking to stabilize himself under Arians’ tutelage.
Here’s a reason why the 49ers will — and will not — win their season opener at Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Why the 49ers will win on Sunday at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
What’s the biggest area of strength for the 49ers? Defensive Line. What’s one of the most signficant weaknesses for the Buccaneers? Offensive Line.
While linebacker Dee Ford and defensive end Nick Bosa missed the entirety of preseason ailing from various injuries, both are set to make their debut for the 49ers on Sunday. Those two players were the prized additions for San Francisco’s front office this past offseason, and they will play their first snaps against Tampa Bay.
This does not even take into account the fact that the 49ers will return first-round defensive linemen DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas to the mix, who have all had impressive training camps.
On the other sideline, Tampa Bay’s offensive line is suspect and will face the pressure to keep quarterback Jameis Winston upright in his first start under Arians. While they return multiple starters to the offensive line, the names aren’t scaring any opposing defensive coordinators.
For San Francisco to win this matchup, the defensive line will have to dominate the line of scrimmage, stop the Buccaneers’ run game and bring down Winston multiple times.
Why the 49ers will not win on Sunday at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will make his first regular-season start since going down in Kansas City with a torn ACL last season.
Garoppolo appeared in two preseason games — with polar opposite results. In his debut against the Denver Broncos, Garoppolo threw an interception and should have had another. Against the Chiefs, Garoppolo rebounded, leading a touchdown drive, finding multiple receivers and inspiring confidence in the 49ers’ coaching staff.
But which Garoppolo is going to show up on Sunday against the Buccaneers? If the Garoppolo that played in Denver shows up, then the 49ers chances for a win look bleak. However, if the Garoppolo that played in Kansas City shows up, then the 49ers should leave for Cincinnati, 1-0.
While both outcomes are certainly possible, I believe that the more likely one to occur is the dominance of the 49ers’ defensive line, combined with an above-average performance from Garoppolo. As a result, 49ers 24-20.