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The 49ers defense leads their team to a season opening win in Tampa Bay

ESPN Radio
September 10, 2019 - 1:17 pm

By Charlie O @Charlio1320

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As the game kicked off on Sunday in Tampa, all on eyes were on 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and how he would perform in “real” game conditions. When the clock ran out in the fourth quarter, everyone was talking about the San Francisco defense and how they had led their team to a 31-17 season opening win over the Buccaneers on the road. The worst defense in the 2018 NFL season just became the “stars of the game” for the 49ers on the road.

180-degree turnaround

In 2018, the Niners defense forced just two interceptions – the lowest total in the league. On Sunday they forced the Bucs to throw three INT’s and it cost Tampa dearly:

  • Richard Sherman intercepted Jameis Winston and returned the ball 31 yards for a touchdown (the 33rd of his career). It was his first INT return for a TD since September 13, 2013 at Houston when he played with Seattle.
  • CB Ahkello Witherspoon hauled in a Winston pass and ran it back 25 yards for a touchdown. It was the first pick-six of his career.
  • LB Mark Nzeocha also picked off a Winston pass. Nzeocha also blocked a Bucs punt that set up the Niners first score – a Robbie Gould 29-yard field goal.

Richard Sherman thought the pass rush and pass coverage meshed in the game, “Yeah, we just felt like Jameis was uncomfortable. He wasn’t in rhythm, he couldn’t hit the top of his drops comfortably, he was looking at the rush a lot of times. But he’s still crafty. He avoided a few sacks, he’s very ingenuitive in the pocket, very similar to Ben Roethlisberger, as I said earlier. And we knew that, and I think Nick [Bosa> learned an important lesson today.”

The defense accounted for two of the Niners three total touchdowns in the game.

The Bosa factor

DL Nick Bosa – the 49ers number one draft choice – was able to play on Sunday and had a nice game. The highlight for Bosa was his sack of Jameis Winston that resulted in a nine-yard loss. It was the first sack of Bosa’s career. He finished the game with two tackles and one assisted tackle. Bosa was in for 39 plays on defense (56% of the total plays).

 “From what I saw it looked good. I know they weren’t out there all the time, but I saw them make a few plays. Every time I looked up it seemed like when Bosa was in he got back there. He missed Jameis [Winston> on a couple that I saw but Jameis is pretty good at that too. He’s done that to a lot of good players. But I was really happy how they got in the backfield, and not just those two but it seemed like the whole D-Line,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan in his postgame analysis of Bosa and Dee Ford working together.

Jimmy G’s day

Garoppolo had a good day just not a great day under center. He completed 13 of 16 pass attempts for 100 yards and had one TD. The touchdown pass was the 49ers longest play from scrimmage of the game. It came in the third quarter in a second and nine to go situation with ball at the Tampa Bay 39-yard line. Garoppolo – working out of the shotgun – threw a pass deep to the left side of the field that was caught by Richie James Jr who took the ball in for a touchdown. That was the only TD scored by the offense.

Garoppolo’s lowest point of the day came in the second quarter when he threw a pass that was intended for Tevin Coleman that wound up in the arms of Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves who ran into the end zone from the SF 15-yard line for touchdown. The gave Tampa Bay a temporary 7-3 lead.

The 49ers QB was sacked just once for an eight-yard loss. Garoppolo finished with QB rating of 66.7

This how Kyle Shanahan evaluated Garoppolo’s performance, “I mean I think the whole offense was shaky. I think he made a couple of good throws but Jimmy and everyone else, including myself, needs to get a lot more consistent. There was some things out there that we missed, which I think made it a much tighter game than it needed to be. Fortunately, our defense got us some turnovers. They got four of them, which it’s hard to win when you have two turnovers on offense but when you get four on the other side, especially when they scored on two of them, that makes it a little easier to overcome some sloppy play that we had on offense."

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  • RB Tevin Coleman – he had to leave due to an ankle injury. Per Shanahan, the severity of the injury will not be known until X-Rays are evaluated.
  • Kicker Robbie Gould – appeared to be injured late in the game but was just suffering dehydration. It was very hot and humid in Tampa on Sunday.
  • Nick Bosa – appears to have made it through the game without any new injuries.
  • Matt Breida & K’Waun Williams both suffered from dehydration during the game.

A week in the “Buckeye State”

The team has traveled to beautiful Youngstown, Ohio (it’s not that beautiful – I’m from Ohio, so I can say that) in order to stay on Eastern time and be ready to face the Bengals at their best on Sunday. Youngstown is about three hours from Cincinnati and is the home of the York – DeBartolo’s who own the 49ers.


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