The San Francisco 49ers handily beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 35-7, on Sunday at Levi's Stadium. San Francisco carved a domineering 28-0 lead by halftime with rookie Brock Purdy at the helm, who made his first career start in place of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo. The Niners held a 19-5 first-down advantage over the Bucs during the first two frames and the NFL's top-ranked defense held the Bucs to just 111 total yards in the first half. The 49ers fired on all cylinders in Week 14, soundly defeating the NFC South division leader.
"We played bad in all phases," said Head Coach Todd Bowles after the defeat. "We coached bad. We got out-coached, a credit to Kyle [Shanahan] and his guys. They did a great job. We got our ass kicked on offense, we got our ass kicked on defense."
The Buccaneers repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with self-inflicted penalties throughout the duration of the game, which put the embattled unit in unfavorable down-and-distance situations. In summation, the Bucs drew eight flags for 62 yards, killing the Bucs' momentum. The first roughing the passer penalty on the opening play by Keanu Neal negated his sack of Brock Purdy off a safety blitz. Next, a Donovan Smith holding penalty nullified a 66-yard touchdown by Mike Evans that would have tied the game 7-7 in the first quarter. Additionally, a defensive pass interference penalty on Neal erased a third-down stop in the end zone, which resulted in a Brock Purdy scramble touchdown. Later in the half, a Carlton Davis holding penalty negated an Anthony Nelson interception, which then put the 49ers' in field goal range. Purdy hit Brandon Aiyuk on a double-move pump fake for a 32-yard touchdown, increasing their lead to 28-0.
"You can't beat two teams," Bowles stated. "Credit to them because they beat us well. They had a good scheme. But we're beating ourselves too lately."
Offensive and Defensive Lull in Santa Clara
Against the NFL's best defensive unit under the tutelage of DeMeco Ryans, the Bucs' struggled to find answers or synergy on the West Coast. Tampa Bay was shutout in the first half, falling to a 28-point deficit. In Brady's homecoming in California, he finished the game with 34 completions in 55 attempts for 253 yards, one touchdown and a season-high two interceptions. In contrast, the 49ers held a point advantage of 404-to-316. Positive plays were brought back due to penalties and the Bucs were not able to effectively run the ball on early downs, which resulted in third-and-long/must-pass situations. Falling behind forced the Buccaneers to become one-dimensional, which played into the hands of San Francisco's formidable crew. Facing many contested situations led to frustrating checkdowns for Tampa Bay. The Bucs' inability to sustain drives once again put the defense on the field for an extended period of time against Shanahan's juggernaut with four of the best multi-faceted weapons in the league: George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey and Kyle Juszczyk.
On the opposite side of the ball, the Bucs' defense did not consistently maintain gaps and finish tackles, which led to open rush lanes for San Francisco to exploit. The 49ers got to the second level against the Bucs' linebackers, pushing past the defensive linemen. Purdy was poised in the pocket and navigated traffic, evading pressure on scrambles. He finished with 16 completions in 21 attempts for 185 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 134.0 passer rating. Purdy additionally ran for a two-yard score in the second quarter. Christian McCaffrey spearheaded their ground attack with 209 yards. He ran for 119 yards on 14 carries and caught two passes for 34 yards. McCaffrey scored on both a 27-yard pass and a 38-yard run in Shanahan's inventive system.
Before his departure upon suffering a high ankle sprain, Deebo Samuel accumulated 64 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. In multiple personnel groupings, Shanahan found ways to get McCaffrey and Samuel in space by employing lead blockers on pulls/motions to pave the way. With the 49ers' versatility in terms of personnel, it created challenges for the defense on how to allocate resources and who to declare as what. Shanahan employs skill players in a variety of ways to raise the question for defensive coordinators, "do we treat Samuel or McCaffrey as a rusher and add a linebacker to the box?" On Sunday in Santa Clara, the 49ers prevailed with mismatches, as poor gap discipline led to the Bucs' demise.
Injury Updates: Vita Vea, Jamel Dean, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka
On Monday, Todd Bowles provided clarity on the injuries sustained against the 49ers in Week 14. The severity of the ailments are unknown as the staff waits for the official medical results. Nose tackle Vita Vea suffered a calf strain, cornerback Jamel Dean has a big toe injury and outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka has a hip injury. All will be further evaluated in the coming days to dictate availability.
The Bucs are already thin in the secondary, playing the previous two matchups without the services of safeties Mike Edwards (hamstring) and Antoine Winfield Jr. (ankle), along with Sean Murphy-Bunting (quad). Dean's injury adds to a laundry list of injuries to the unit in 2022.