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49ers finish in Week 1 shows a different team than from a year ago

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They actually can finish a game.

When the San Francisco 49ers entered the 4th quarter of their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it was shaping up a narrative everyone was familiar with. In 2018, heartbreaking losses, blown leads, and failure to finish was one of the few consistent things the team had.

The 49ers defense held the Buccaneers to what looked like a field goal attempt; it seemed like the inevitable. Then a whistle blew, a 49ers special teamer was offsides, and Bruce Arians trotted out the offense on 4th and goal thanks to the penalty. This tale is far too obvious. 49ers are up by six, and the Buccaneers had been bending the defense on the drive. This story is obvious. It would have been the standard for the 49ers defense to turtle late and call it a day.

You don’t see that every day. 4th down with two yards and Tarvarius Moore, who has moved from cornerback back to safety and makes the 4th down stand. What? Couldn’t he catch the ball? Of course, with a little back and forth, the Buccaneers find a way to get close, kick a field goal later and cut the lead to three. The 49ers, in turn, score their own field goal to make it 23-17.

Look, the defense showed up. Stopped the game from getting out of hand early, but it just wasn’t meant to be right? The offense wasn’t getting their act together, the Bucs’ running game was gaining momentum. It was just a matter of time after that kickoff that the Buccaneers march down the field and Bruce Arians claims another victory. We know how this story ends. They have 2:09 and a timeout. This story is redundant.

Wrong:

That was the Achilles heel of the 49ers. Not the offense or Nick Mullens or the special teams. It was the fact the 49ers couldn’t finish a game if their lives depended on it. Not this year, not this team.

It’s a long season, and there are 15 more games to play. But if there ever was a time to show you this was a different 49ers defense on the field, you saw it in Week 1. That interception wasn’t just finishing, that was FINISHING!

It’s a long season, but the 49ers—and the fans—know they are capable of finishing.

#progress.