On January 16, 2004, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Kyle Shanahan to be an offensive quality control coach on Jon Gruden's staff. It was the first NFL job for Shanahan, though he had obviously been around the game his entire life as the son of former Raiders, Broncos and Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan.
Exactly two months later, on March 16, the Buccaneers moved on from one of their all-time greats, releasing five-time Pro Bowl safety John Lynch. Lynch, a 1993 third-round pick by the Buccaneers, would go on to play four more years in Denver and earn four more Pro Bowl berths plus entrance into the Rings of Honor for both franchises.
So, technically, Shanahan and Lynch were co-workers with the Buccaneers for 59 days, though they probably didn't work on any projects together in that span. No, the first real collaboration between Shanahan and Lynch would come 13 years later, when the San Francisco 49ers hired Lynch to be their new general manager on January 29, 2017 and then eight days later named Shanahan their new head coach.
Now for the first time since those two took over one of the league's most storied franchises, Lynch and Shanahan are bringing the 49ers back to what was the first NFL home for both of them. Lynch can see his name and number on the Raymond James Stadium façade; Shanahan can think back to fond memories of a Buccaneer playoff run in 2005, his last year with the team. Both of them will probably enjoy the trip down memory lane, but their purpose this Sunday will definitely not be to create any more fond memories for the Buccaneers and their fans.
The Buccaneers and 49ers bring 3-7 and 2-8 records, respectively, into their 23rd regular-season matchup, but if a recent trend holds one of those teams will be celebrating a lopsided win by the end of the afternoon. Each of the last three games between the Bucs and Niners has been decided by a margin of 19 or more points, and six of the last nine have been won by 17 or more points.
Lynch can remember games like that. After playing his high school ball in San Diego, Lynch went to Stanford (originally to play quarterback), which is just a short drive from San Francisco. The first time he played the 49ers after joining the Bucs in 1993, his team was on the short end of a 45-21 walloping. The first time Lynch went with the Bucs back to San Francisco, in 1994, they left with a 41-16 defeat. Unfortunately for Lynch he had just left before Tampa Bay got some 35 to 3-flavored revenge in 2004, but that only includes the regular season. As you'll see below, Lynch also got to enjoy a blowout win over the 49ers in the playoffs during a certain season that ended in a certain games with Roman numerals attached.
The Buccaneers have certainly played in enough high-scoring games this season to suggest another lopsided final, in either direction, is possible. Here's the all-time series scoreboard:
Tampa Bay 5
San Francisco 17
1. Tampa Bay 31, San Francisco 6, Jan. 12, 2003
The Buccaneers won a first-round playoff bye in 2002 and watched as San Francisco survived a bizarre shootout with the Giants on a muffed snap that short-circuited a final field goal try by New York. There would be no late-game histrionics when the 49ers came to Tampa, however, because the Buccaneers began their dominant '02 playoff run by rolling over their visitors with relative ease. Future Buccaneer Jeff Garcia threw 41 times for the 49ers, but gained only 193 yards while absorbing four sacks and throwing three picks. His Buccaneer counterpart, Brad Johnson, took a hard hit on a scramble early in the third quarter that left him with a bloody face and missed a handful of plays but by then the home team was up 28-6. Johnson threw touchdown passes to Joe Jurevicius and Rickey Dudley and Mike Alstott scored on a pair of two-yard runs; the final margin would have been even worse for the 49ers if the scoring part of a Ronde Barber pick-six was not erased by a penalty. The win sent the Bucs on to Philly, where Barber would get his pick-six in much more memorable fashion.
2. Tampa Bay 13, San Francisco 6, Aug. 31, 1997
After winning five of their last seven games in 1996 under first-year Head Coach Tony Dungy, the Buccaneers had high hopes heading into 1997 but a tough draw in Week One: The perennially-powerful 49ers. In fact, San Francisco would secure another 13 wins in this '97 campaign, but they didn't get one in Week One thanks to a Buccaneers' defense that would announce its arrival in dramatic fashion. Most notably, defensive tackle Warren Sapp would knock future Hall-of-Famers Steve Young and Jerry Rice out of the game early, Young on a sack on his third dropback and Young on a tackle on a failed end-around. Rice, unfortunately, would miss most of the rest of the season; Young returned to the game in the fourth quarter but probably wished he hadn't. San Fran still managed to take a 6-0 lead into halftime as the Bucs' offense took time to get going, but the defense got even stinger in the second half, allowing only 45 more yards. The Bucs took their first lead five minutes into the fourth quarter on Trent Dilfer's one-yard rollout touchdown pass to tight end Dave Moore. Much of the rest of the offense was provided by fullback Mike Alstott, who finished the game with 119 yards from scrimmage, including 46 of the 53 yards on the game's only touchdown drive. Young came back into the game to start the fourth quarter but was promptly sacked by Hardy Nickerson and intercepted by Tyrone Legette on consecutive plays, setting up Michael Husted for his second field goal, a 34-yarder, and the game's final points.
3. Tampa Bay 24, San Francisco 23, Oct. 26, 1980
The 1980 Niners had the seeds of their coming dominance in place, beginning with Joe Montana, but wouldn't break through until the following year. The Buccaneers, meanwhile, had made a stunning breakthrough of their own to the playoffs in 1979 but then had stumbled to a 2-4-1 record to start 1980. In Week Eight the Bucs made the trek to the West Coast, where the franchise had yet to win a game. They would win this one on the ground, rushing for 174 yards and three touchdowns, two by Jerry Eckwood, while Doug Williams was efficient but threw for just 89 yards. San Francisco scored first on a 53-yard punt return by former University of Tampa star Freddie Solomon, but Eckwood's two scores put the Bucs on top, 14-13, in the third quarter. From there, the lead changed hands four more times, the final one on Garo Yepremian's 30-yard field goal with 47 seconds left. San Francisco let Ray Wersching try a 63-yarder as time expired but it came up short. Dewey Selmon's third-and-goal stop at the one-yard line on San Francisco's previous drive had kept the game close enough for Yepremian to win it.
1. San Francisco 21, Tampa Bay 19, Dec. 23, 2007
The Buccaneers won the NFC South in 2007 while the 49ers limped to a 5-11 mark, but San Francisco got the win at home in Week 16. That was at least partially because the Bucs, having already clinched the division and been locked into the fourth seed, had little to gain and thus pulled many of their starters in the first half, including quarterback and former Niner Jeff Garcia. Garcia threw for 196 yards and a touchdown before exiting, after which McCown threw for another 185 and another score, though he also tossed an interception that set up San Francisco's final score. The 49ers started Shaun Hill at quarterback over former Buccaneer Trent Dilfer, and Hill threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Frank Gore to give the home team a 21-13 lead. San Francisco finished with just 213 yards of offense, 132 of them provided by Gore, but held on for the win when the Bucs failed on a final two-point conversion. McCown hit TE Jerramy Stevens on a 24-yard touchdown pass with 1:20 to play but his two-point pass attempt to Michael Clayton was caught out of bounds.
2. San Francisco 20, Tampa Bay 16, Sept. 17, 1989
The 1989 49ers were a dominant squad, going 14-2 in the regular season and finishing it with a Super Bowl win over Denver. The Joe Montana (and occasionally Steve Young)-led offense outscored its opponents 442 to 253 and wideouts Jerry Rice and John Taylor combined for 27 touchdowns. But the Niners barely escaped a Week Two trip to Tampa with a win, needing a Joe Montana touchdown run to pull ahead with less than a minute to play. Defense dominated as both Montana and Vinny Testaverde were intercepted twice (Ronnie Lott and Ricky Reynolds had two picks apiece) and the two teams combined for 524 yards of offense. It was a game of field goals in the first three quarters, but Montana's two-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Rice put the 49ers on top midway through the final period. Testaverde came right back with a 60-yard touchdown drive ending in his 18-yarder to Mark Carrier with 4:35 to play. That was enough time for Montana to engineer one more touchdown drive, this one kept alive by a defensive holding penalty in the end zone on third-and-goal. After Montana's touchdown, Testaverde fumbled a snap and the Niners recovered to clinch it.
3. San Francisco 48, Tampa Bay 3, Oct. 9, 2011
The Buccaneers were a bad football team in 2011, losing 10 in a row to close out the season, but that wasn't immediately clear in Week Five as they headed out to California with a 3-1 record. The Bucs had just missed the playoffs the year before with a 10-6 record and thought they had an emerging franchise quarterback in Josh Freeman. The trip to San Francisco was the beginning of the end, however. San Fran was also 3-1 at that point, but they would go on to win 10 of their last 12, in stark contrast, and on this afternoon they had the Bucs completely outmatched, rolling up 418 yards of offense and 28 first downs. Frank Gore had 125 yards to lead a 213-yard ground attack. Alex Smith completed 11 of 19 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns and was neither sacked nor intercepted. Carlos Rogers returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, which turned a 7-3 game into a 14-3 game and opened the floodgates as the 49ers scored 41 unanswered points.
Bucs' Top Performers Against 49ers:
Among players currently on the roster, here are a few Buccaneers who have fared well against the Panthers.
· DT Gerald McCoy…4 games, 13 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 5 quarterback hits, 2 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, 2 passes defensed
· DE Jason Pierre-Paul…4 games, 13 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 3 quarterback hits, 4 tackles for loss, 1 pass defensed
· WR Mike Evans…1 game, 8 receptions for 96 yards and 2 touchdowns, 8 first downs
49ers' Top Performers Against Bucs:
· WR Pierre Garcon…4 games, 9 receptions for 227 yards and 2 touchdowns, 25.2 yards per catch, 149 yards after catch, 7 first downs
· RB Alfred Morris…3 games, 47 carries for 214 yards and 1 touchdown, 4.6 yards per carry, 4 receptions for 34 yards
· DE Arik Armstead…1 game, 4 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 quarterback hit
Series Notes (regular-season games only):
· Overall Season Series: San Francisco leads, 17-5
· Bucs' Home Record: 2-5
· Bucs' Road Record: 3-12
· Current Streak: Win 1 (2016)
· Buccaneers' Longest Winning Streak: 1 (5 times)
· 49ers' Longest Winning Streak: 9 (1983-94)
· Regular Season Point Total: Buccaneers 329, 49ers 511
· Most Points in a Game, Buccaneers: Buccaneers 35-3 (2004)
· Most Points in a Game, 49ers: 49ers 48-3 (2011)
· Most Points, both teams: 49ers 45-21 (1993)
· Fewest Points in a Game, Buccaneers: 49ers 48-3 (2011)
· Fewest Points in a Game, 49ers: Buccaneers 21-0 (2010)
· Fewest Points in a Game, both teams: 49ers 6-3 (1978)