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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5 Bucs to Watch Against the 49ers in Week 11

The Buccaneers will head to the West Coast to take on the 49ers in Week 11 and here are five players to watch


In a battle of the bays, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will head to the West Coast for a Week 11 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Both teams snapped losing streaks in Week 10 and will vie to continue the forward momentum in Santa Clara. The 49ers – widely considered a Super Bowl contender – will present a litmus test for the Bucs. The Niners boast one of the NFL's most talented rosters, featuring an embarrassment of riches on both sides of the football. Tampa Bay will strive to build off last week's stifling defensive performance and offensive surge. Here is a breakdown of five Buccaneers to watch on Sunday:

Rachaad White

While the Buccaneers continue to build their run game with mid-zone and duo concepts, Rachaad White has made a significant impact on screens and empty packages. He ranks second only to Christian McCaffrey in receiving yards by a running back this season and broke off a sensational 43-yard touchdown catch-and-run off a screen pass in Week 10. White's open-field prowess accentuates the run game and keeps defenses honest. He has an innate ability to make defenders miss and accelerate down the perimeter, working from reactive mode to aggression. On Sunday, he will face one of the NFL's best off-ball linebackers in Fred Warner. Warner is adept at limiting teams that try to attack the middle/intermediate area of the field. He has it all: closing speed, technique, pursuit, diagnosis and coverage skills. Warner's ability to get from point A to point B is rare. He is responsive to the quarterback's eyes and has amassed a team-high 78 tackles, three interceptions and six passes defensed in 2023.

Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

Trent Williams is not only one of the best tackles in the league but one of the best players in the entire league, regardless of position. He sets the standard of excellence when he steps on the field. Williams consistently generates power and creates highlight-worthy athletic plays at the second-level when move blocking. He is elite at both anchoring in pass protection and coming off the ball in the run game. Williams handles both speed and power rushes with ease, making it a challenge for edge rushers to come up with an effective rush plan of attack. The way Williams plays the game cannot be mimicked or replicated – he is a transcendent talent. On Sunday, Bucs' Joe Tryon-Shoyinka will face the freak of nature. JTS primarily lines up on the right side and will see a heavy dose of Williams. Tryon-Shoyinka has the coveted combination of height, weight and speed. He possesses elite bend and is able to win inside when tackles overset to the outside. Collectively, Sunday will be a challenge for the Bucs' outside linebacker corps.  

Devin White

Devin White and the Bucs' linebackers will have their hands full on Sunday with the 49ers' offensive weapons. The Niners use a lot of multiple personnel groupings, including 21 to try and create advantageous matchups with their hybrid skill players. Christian McCaffrey is a running back who can run routes like an All-Pro receiver. Deebo Samuel, a do-it-all player, can break tackles as a rusher and redirect on routes with fakes off release packages. George Kittle is a tight end who blocks like a lineman with solid pad level and works the seam with wiggle after the catch like a running back. Then there is Brandon Aiyuk, who is a natural pass-catcher with savvy routes and instincts in the open-field. Kyle Juszczyk, the club's fullback, splits time at tight end and is adept at blocking downhill to open run lanes. Kyle Shanahan's system employs zone schemes to benefit the versatile skillset of both Samuel and McCaffrey. Their horizontal stretch - whether jet sweeps, orbit motions, outside zone, or bubble screens – all are set up with effective second-level blocking by Trent Williams, tight end George Kittle and fullback Kyle Juszcyk to generate yards after the catch. The Niners' offense forces mental mistakes and the Bucs' defense will have to be disciplined in run fits and pursuit angles. Shanahan aims to stress C-gap assignments by driving defenders back and Devin White will play a critical role in minimizing damage on Sunday at Levi's Stadium. He possesses a quick-twitch trigger and has the agility to flow from gap to gap, tracking runners bouncing outside. White is a key cog in the Bucs' defense and effectively drops and changes direction, which will come into use on Sunday against the 49ers' star-studded cast. The Bucs' defense put the clamps on Derrick Henry in Week 10, holding him to just 24 rushing yards, and the unit will look to do the same in Santa Clara.

Tristan Wirfs

Tristan Wirfs will go up against one of the NFL's premier pass rushers in Nick Bosa on Sunday. Steve Wilks, the 49ers' defensive coordinator, makes a concerted effort with packages to get both Bosa and Chase Young in one-on-one scenarios. Bosa, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, has the body lean around the edge and low center of gravity to sharply get to the quarterback. He plays with a superb get-off, powerful leg drive and strength. He can quickly switch gears to power moves on a dime when needed and plays with a high-motor. Tristan Wirfs, the anchor of the Bucs' offensive line, has not allowed a sack in 2023 and has made the transition from right to left tackle appear seamless. Wirfs is quick out of his stance and is an elite technician. He is an agile mover in space and plays with the blend of length and poise that is a prerequisite for a blindside protector.

Aaron Stinnie

Aaron Stinnie has started the Bucs' last three games at left guard in the absence of injured Matt Feiler. Stinnie plays with good contact balance to mirror rushers and has repeatedly drawn praise from coaches on his work in the run game, elongating rush lanes. Most notably, Stinnie started the last three games of the Bucs' 2020 Super Bowl run after an injury sidelined Alex Cappa and Stinnie made a stellar three-game debut. He is expected to have another large role on Sunday and if he does compile another start, Stinnie will face 49ers' Javon Hargrave. Hargrave, a free agent pickup from the Eagles, is an athletic one-gap penetrator in the interior. He has quick burst upfield and gains leverage with surprising foot quickness. After Hargrave generated a 14.1% pressure rate across the 2021-22 seasons in Philadelphia - the best in the NFL among defensive tackles - he has continued the stellar trend in San Francisco, currently at 16.1%, fourth-best among qualifying defensive tackles.

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