The San Francisco 49ers continued their second-half success with a 27-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 11, improving to 7-3 on the season ahead of a crucial Thursday Night showdown against the Seattle Seahawks on Thanksgiving.
Offensively, the 49ers picked up where they left off last week, bouncing back from an early punt to score on five consecutive possessions, ultimately ending with 27 points.
Defensively, San Francisco overcame some rough patches by performing well in key moments, forcing two turnovers and two turnover on downs, limiting Tampa Bay to 14 points.
Here are three quick takeaways from the 49ers 27-14 win over the Buccaneers on Sunday.
Coming into this matchup, I said that the turnover battle was going to be an important piece in determining how this game went.
The 49ers entered the game ranking third in the NFL in takeaways with 1.9 per game, while the Buccaneers were sixth at 1.8 per game.
Similarly, both teams had been elite at not turning it over offensively, as the Buccaneers ranked third at 0.9 giveaways a game, while the 49ers ranked sixth with 1.0 per game.
Well, the 49ers were flawless in the turnover department offensively, as Brock Purdy played clean football, making a number of key plays, while placing the ball out of harms way en route to a perfect passer rating of 158.3.
Baker Mayfield, on the other hand, coughed up an early fumble inside San Francisco territory, courtesy of a Fred Warner peanut punch, which the 49ers countered with a field goal, increasing their lead to 10-0 in the first half.
Then, Mayfield threw an interception late in the game in the red zone, sealing the game for the 49ers, as safety Ji’Ayir Brown, who replaced an injured Talanoa Hufanga, secured the pass off a tip for the pick.
The 49ers have been dominant when winning the turnover battle, and their ability to get out of tough situations by forcing takeaways helped secure the win on Sunday.
Containing Mike Evans
Another key to winning for the 49ers in this one was finding a way to contain Buccaneers wideout Mike Evans.
Now, Evans still got his weekly touchdown, but the 49ers held the top wideout to five catches for 43 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets.
Charvarius Ward, Ambry Thomas, and Ji’Ayir Brown all recorded pass-breakups when covering Evans in a great game for the 49ers cornerbacks in coverage.
Without Evans’s consistent downfield threat, Baker Mayfield threw for just 5.5 yards per attempt, while being forced to throw 45 times.
With the Buccaneers sporting the league’s worst rushing attack entering the game, it was going to be important to find ways to contain Mike Evans and limit Tampa Bay’s options through the air, and the 49ers created a game plan that did exactly that with great coverage across the board from their corners.
Red zone woes have slowly become an issue for the 49ers over the past few weeks.
Now, I recently wrote about the 49ers and their red zone success, but that primarily stemmed from the fact that San Francisco ranked third in the NFL with four red zone trips a game.
The 49ers’ red zone efficiency has slowly begun to slip, as they entered the game at sixth with a 61.1 touchdown scoring percentage in the red zone.
However, since Week 7, the 49ers have been 6/14, or 42.9 percent, in scoring touchdowns, which ranks among the bottom of the league, and is a stark difference from their 72.7 percent touchdown rate over the first six weeks.
The issues continued today, as the 49ers went just 2/4 in the red zone, kicking field goals twice, albeit against a strong red zone defense team.
But, while the 49ers get to the red zone at a high rate, they need to figure out how to be more effective in the area to maximize their offensive opportunities, which hasn’t happened over the past few weeks.
Once they regain their red zone touch, they’ll consistently see similar offensive results in comparison to their early season stretch where the team scored 30+ points in each of the first five games.