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Bucs-49ers Pregame Report

Posted Dec 15, 2013

The Bucs will play their 2013 home finale, and try to extend their winning streak at Raymond James Stadium to four, in front of a sold-out crowd Sunday against the 49ers...Plus inactives and other notes

  • The Bucs will try to extend their home winning streak to four games in front of a sold-out crowd on Sunday
  • WR Vincent Jackson and C Jeremy Zuttah have been cleared to play and will start against the 49ers
  • The Bucs believe the 49ers will focus on establishing the run first on offense
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play their final home game of 2013 on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, before setting off on a two-game road swing to end the campaign as a whole. The scene at Raymond James Stadium is nicely set up to give the Bucs a proper sendoff, particularly if the team can continue its recent streak of great play at home.

The Buccaneers have won three straight at Raymond James Stadium, including last weekend’s 27-6 throttling of the Buffalo Bills. After that game, Head Coach Greg Schiano was particularly complimentary of the fans at Raymond James Stadium and the hostile atmosphere they were able to create for the visiting team. Now the Bucs and 49ers will play before a completely sold out crowd on Sunday, and Schiano hopes the effect is even better for his crew.

“I stated at the beginning of the week that we need our fans’ help,” he said. “We’ve got a great sellout crowd today and every fan screaming is going to be huge for us when we’re on defense, just to alter their communication ability, and really to get our guys flying around continually throughout the game.”

The Bucs helped primed that Buffalo crowd by scoring just 18 seconds into the game on an 80-yard run by Bobby Rainey. That was the quickest into a game Tampa Bay had ever lit the scoreboard, so it’s not likely they’ll be able to top that in Week 15. Still, any kind of fast start against a very capable opponent would help the Bucs keep their home streak alive.

- QB M. Glennon and the Buccaneers seek their fourth straight win at Raymond James Stadium
“Any time you can start fast it’s going to help your football team,” said Schiano. “I don’t know if we can start much faster, unless it was on the first play. But Bobby hits that run for 80 yards and it really gets everybody going – the crowd, the team, the coaches, everybody.”

Of course, San Francisco’s fourth-ranked defense isn’t going to make it easy on the home team. And an offense that runs the ball on 53% of its snaps, the highest percentage in the league, is hard to force into the kind of momentum-building mistake that has been so prevalent in the Bucs’ last three home wins.

“They’re a very talented team,” said Schiano of the 49ers. “They’re big, they’re fast, they’re physical. They know what they want to do, they have an identity offensively. They’re going to pound you, they’re going to move the ball around, the launch point’s going to move a little bit. Defensively, they’re very aggressive, very sound, even though they’re not a big blitzing team. And then on special teams they have very good specialists and very good big special teams players that can run.”

Last week, Tampa Bay’s defense chased down Bills QB E.J. Manuel for seven sacks and also picked him off four times. They’ll try to duplicate that sort of pressure and create another rash of turnovers on Sunday against the 49ers, but San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick will likely be tougher to crack. Kaepernick has a nice 16-8 TD-INT ratio in 2013 and has also run for 407 yards and three scores. The Bucs are actually a little more worried about the second half of those statistics, as they want to stop San Francisco’s running game and keep Kaepernick in the pocket as much as possible.

“He’s a big, physical, talented quarterback who has the ability to run with the football as well,” said Schiano of the 49ers’ starter. “He’s got a cannon for an arm; not only can he make every throw, he can make every throw with rare arm strength. So not only do we have to play great past defense, but first and foremost they’re going to try to run the ball at us. We’ve got to find a way to stop that run, because if not they’re going to be in very manageable third downs or not in third down at all, and that will make for a long afternoon.”

The Bucs will at least have a relatively healthy roster available to take on that tough 49ers team. WR Vincent Jackson, C Jeremy Zuttah and DE Da’Quan Bowers were all slowed by injuries as the week began but progressed well enough to be ready to play on Sunday. Jackson continues to battle his way through a hamstring strain, something he did to the tune of 70 yards and a touchdown in last week’s win over Buffalo.

“Vincent, he’s our guy, he’s our leader,” said Schiano. “He’s not a real outspoken guy – when he talks, people listen – but that’s the kind of competitor he is. A lot of guys don’t even make it for that game on Sunday; Vincent not only makes it but plays big. We’ve become accustomed to that and we’re blessed to have him here.”

Zuttah missed some time in the second half of the Buffalo game, though the contest was essentially decided at that point. With the scoreboard reset to zeroes, Schiano is glad that Zuttah is back in the middle of the Bucs’ front line to face the next challenge.

“Jeremy’s an important part of our offense, no doubt about it,” said the coach. “He tweaked his shoulder during the game last week, he missed a little practice, but by the end of the week he was full-go and I’m really glad he’s going to be able to play.”

The only Buccaneer out due to injury is G Carl Nicks, who hasn’t played since undergoing foot surgery in Week Five. The Bucs’ seven game day inactives are Nicks, CB Deveron Carr, FB/RB Lonnie Pryor, S Bradley McDougald, LB Danny Lansanah, G Patrick Omameh and DT Gary Gibson.

The 49ers will be without starting left guard Mike Iupati, as he will miss his fourth straight game with a knee injury. Adam Snyder will once again start in Iupati’s place. In addition to Iupati, the 49ers declared the following inactives: WR Quinton Patton, LB Nick Moody, G Ryan Seymour, DT Quinton Dial, WR Jon Baldwin and TE Vance McDonald. McDonald was also out due to injury.

The Buccaneers and 49ers will kick off their Week 15 matchup at Raymond James Stadium at 1:00 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised in the Bay area by Fox. The action will also be broadcast by the Buccaneers Radio Network and its flagship station, US 103.5 FM. That radio broadcast will be available via a live stream on Buccaneers.com. Visit Buccaneers.com throughout the day to for further reports on the game action, including coverage of the team’s postgame press conferences.