HEAD COACH TODD BOWLES
(On if getting rid of the ball quickly is the best way to attack San Francisco's defense)
"I don't know if it's the way to attack them, but you're definitely getting the ball out of there. The pressures are probably more important than the sacks because you're not looking downfield. As long as they're getting pressures – which they are – and getting the ball out, I'm pretty sure they're happy because they've got guys in the back that can fly around and make plays."
(On San Francisco's offense having so many pieces)
"They've got a lot more weapons and they've got a lot more YAC-yard guys than we've faced recently. All of them can do a lot of things. Obviously, [George] Kittle is in there, as well. We've just got to be able to tackle. We've got to be where we need to be at the right time and we've got to gang tackle."
(On when CB Zyon McCollum took a penalty for exiting the field last Sunday against the Titans and if he'd rather take a penalty or use a timeout in that situation)
"He was on the field. Had I saw him go over there on the sideline, I would have called the timeout."
(On clarifying that he would prefer to use a timeout in that situation)
(On OLB Markees Watts making his regular season NFL debut and what he saw in practice that made him want to give Watts playing time)
"He's gone against Luke [Goedeke] and Tristan [Wirfs] every day. We give them the best pass rusher of the week, so he can give those guys work because he works hard nonstop. He's been giving them fits. Because he's been giving them fits and they've been blocking well in ballgames, a lot of that is a credit to him. We said he deserved a shot, let's see what he does on Sunday. He went out and did the same thing. We really like where he's at right now and he's coming along [well]."
(On if Watts earned more playing time with his performance)
"He should earn some playing time."
(On seeing promise from OLBs Markees Watts and Yaya Diaby, plus DT Calijah Kancey)
"[They are] still developing, but we really like all three of them. We like all three of them right now. We like where they are [and] the way they're developing. Obviously, they've got to continue to be healthy and do all the right things to play – they're heading in that direction. We're very happy about that."
(On why he thinks the defense had such a strong showing after a disappointing loss the week before)
"Everybody has got a lot of pride. You don't want to just have a bad game and not come back from it. You're not going to go in the tank. You either attack it head on or you go back in the tank. Those guys have a lot of pride. We've played a lot of good football in the past. Everybody got down, put their nose down to the grindstone and got back to work as a group. We understand what we're capable of and they came out and played the game."
(On if forcing turnovers is the best way to beat the 49ers)
"That's one way. You either score a lot of points or you make them turn it over. Hopefully we can get one or the other, or maybe both of them. They're a very good football team. They don't have many bad games. We've got to play a solid football game to give ourselves a chance."
(On how he had been able to contain San Francisco 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey when he used to play for the Carolina Panthers)
"In Carolina, he was one of maybe two or three stars. They've got about five or six of them over there in 'San Fran' and they move him around a lot and they do a lot more with him, as well as with the other guys. They make it difficult to keep tabs on him. I think that's the difference from when he's in 'San Fran' from when he was in Carolina."
(On the key to controlling McCaffrey this Sunday)
"Tackling. The YAC-yards – him and Deebo [Samuel] break so many tackles, it's unbelievable. You have to gang tackle them. If you can't, you've got to be able to get him down and limit yards per catch and limit him in the run game if you can. He does so many things well, it's hard to just contain him. You just try to slow him down if you can."
(On going up against 49ers QB Brock Purdy again after he made his first career start against the Buccaneers in 2022)
"I hope the results are different. Obviously, they beat us pretty [bad] last year – there are some things we've got to change and we learned from. Hopefully that change is for the better. He's a good quarterback, he's a good football player, he's a smart football player. [49ers Head Coach] Kyle [Shanahan] plays smart football players. He takes care of the ball, he knows where to go with the football and he can use his feet when he needs to. Other than the other weapons they have, that's a challenge in itself with him using his feet as well."
(On a defensive look that the Buccaneers have employed where DB Christian Izien is serving as a second safety)
"It's really a base package when they put in an extra guy and we're pretty sure they're going to run the ball. [It] spreads out personnel but keeps the base in there to have a bigger guy up there. [It is] an extra guy that can cover, as opposed to a safety covering a wideout. It's really a 'penny' package. A lot of teams use it. They use your base personnel and then you sub out a safety for an extra cover guy."
(On how much of a luxury it is to have LT Tristan Wirfs)
"You forget he moved from right to left just this year, because he hasn't given up a sack. He works hard at it. He takes a lot of pride in it. He'll have his hands full this week with several pass rushers that they have. I'm sure he'll do his due diligence to be ready to play and I think he's excited for the competition."
(On if he expected Wirfs to make the transition from right tackle to left tackle so smoothly)
"I knew he would compete and play hard. I knew he would do well. I'm pretty sure it's not seamless if you ask him – but if you're looking at it from the outside in, because he hasn't given up a sack, it looks like an easy transition but he works at it very hard."
(On San Francisco 49ers linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw)
"They feed off each other. Fred's headlines are well deserved, but Dre Greenlaw plays. Boy, he plays. He goes from sideline to sideline, he's very physical, he can cover, he makes just as many plays. The guys that are in the league that know, know how valuable he is."
(On how difficult it is to defend a well-executed screen)
"That's tough. It makes you hesitate if you're a blitzing team. If you can block it up and get out on the screen, it's a high completion percentage. If you can get some blockers out there and get some runs, it's tough for any defense to do."
QUARTERBACK BAKER MAYFIELD
(On his success under pressure this season and if he enjoys playing under pressure)
"Yes and no. I think the good part about when teams are pressuring us is [that] we have a good plan about how we want to attack it. The answer is within the system and that communication throughout the week is really, really clear. If you're on the same page, and you have the schemes to be able to carve people up when they do pressure, there are obviously less defenders in coverage, so it works both ways."
(On the pressure that the San Francisco 49ers defense presents)
"Their defense as a whole has studs all around. [We've] got to be clued into their blitz packages and obviously [we] just have to handle the front in general. That's their starting point and it allows for those linebackers that are both studs to play pretty free."
(On the 49ers talent on the defensive line)
"It's one of those things like when you write down your scouting report and you do the Eagles and you do the 49ers – their two-deep on the front, to say the least it's damn impressive. So, when you have some of those guys rotating in for fresh legs, it's impressive. We've just got to have a good plan, a concise plan, to know how we want to attack these guys. They're really good, so we have to expect that they're going to give us some fits and some challenges on different things. We've just got to gameplan and find out ways to stay ahead of the chains."
(On WR Chris Godwin having one touchdown reception through nine games)
"There have been a couple that we've been really close on, to be honest with you. I think there [was] one play against New Orleans where I threw the interception before halftime – it should have been a touchdown. Then, he got subbed out and Trey Palmer wound up catching a quick fly for a touchdown. There [are] just little things here and there that just haven't timed out right, but he is one of those guys that has been so crucial for us just within the system as a whole, third-down conversions especially. We've love to get him in the end zone more, but we'll take any sort of touchdown."
(On if 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa talks a lot on the field)
"No, I mean I've only played him a couple of times. The first year, definitely – that was his rookie year. But it's fun. He is a good guy, obviously a great competitor and a stud. He is one of those challenges that you look forward to going up against and competing with."
(On if he feels like Tampa Bay was a good fit for him)
"Absolutely. I've said it time and time again, and it's not going to change, just the organization as a whole from when I came in – it has been really clear about what they want to get done and about where we're headed, and as these games have gone, offensively for us, just about how we've grown within the system. It's been, 'This is where we want to be at and this is what we want to get done.' When it's clear and concise, I can fall in line no matter what. We're all just trying to get better each day as an offense and try to continue to improve. Now we get a better opponent to get to go up against and see what we're made of."
(On if there have been discussions of an extension)
"Not that I know of. For me, I'm just taking it one game at a time and the rest will fall into place."
(On if the screen play touchdown to RB Rachaad White in Week 10 could become a staple in the team's offense)
"You want to be able to call them in the right time, and in the right places on the field, as well. Trying to time up either a pressure or if they're going to drop back into coverage. They pressured us on that play, so great timing by Dave [Canales] to call that one. As I've mentioned the past few weeks, it's continuing to get Rachaad more involved getting the ball in space, whether it's perimeter runs, screens – just some empty-package stuff to be able to get the ball in his hands and make people miss. Obviously, he's extremely talented at that, so it's just finding ways to do that."
(On White being a reliable pass catcher)
"He's got great hands [knocks on wood]. Don't jinx that. He's got great hands, he's really natural with it. You can tell when the ball is in the air, he looks really natural at the catch point looking it into his hands and just being able to transition it for yards after catch, as well."
(On if there were more opportunities to get White involved in the passing game last Sunday)
"A little bit, yeah. There [are] some different things we could continue to work in. I think we had everything we wanted, as well, so some of the checkdowns and usual things he might get yards on – we were able to actually go through the first couple progressions and find it that way."
(On what has made him so good when pressured)
"It's just the nature of the game. On some of those screen passes, you're going to be looking down the barrel. You want to invite them in as close as possible to where they can't retrace and chase down the [running] back from behind. When it comes to screens, you've got to live with it. When it comes to other pressure, it's just knowing where your answers are [and] knowing where the voids in the defense are when they do bring a certain guy of how you want to attack it. Like I said, it's communication within our offense of, 'Hey guys, if they bring this pressure, you're going to get the ball here.' Just that open line of communication has been really good so far."
(On the mindset of the team being in the middle of the NFC South title hunt)
"Our mentality right now, I'd say, is control our own destiny-type. A one game at a time mentality. Continue to get better so we can peak at the right time. Yeah, we would've love to be in a different situation record-wise, but those can all be valuable lessons for the long run right here. For us, going up against a good playoff opponent, we need to handle it like that and really just focus on finding a way to win against the 49ers in 'San Fran' and build from there."
(On if the offense is set in place or if the creativity is still brewing and they're continuing to install new plays)
"There is always trying to find the balance of not overwhelming guys with a bunch of new schemes throughout the week in the middle of it and still being able to find your bread and butter, make little tweaks formationally and personnel-wise of schemes that we've installed since day one. Then there is always gameplan creativity that you want to get in, but you don't want to overwhelm guys. You want them to play fast and not have to think too much. It's finding the balance in between that, and I think we've done a good job so far."
(On what he is most pleased with personally from the first half of the season)
"[It's] between the leadership and then the [lack of] turnovers. As long as you're taking care of the ball offensively, our defense is playing well enough to be able to [be in it]. We don't have to blow people out to win games. We don't have to score that many points, so as long as take care of the ball [and] stay in manageable downs-and-distances, we should be good. At the same time, we also should be scoring more than 20 [points] each game. There [are] definitely a lot of points we have left on the board. It's knowing that we don't have to stress or press too much to score too many points, but we definitely have the capability to do it. We need to grow into that and learn that we should be able to score closer to 30 each game."
(On working to improve on the deep ball)
"The one to Mike [Evans] where he had to come back on a post route, they were giving us a blitz look. I was pretty quick to release it and Mike is running his [butt] off down the field. I didn't know if he was ever going to look for it, but he did, and he was able to come back to the ball. For him, it's always [about] giving him a chance. He is going to make a play somehow, some way. Now, the one to Trey [Palmer] that got overturned – it's a single-high defense and he's got press coverage. He did a good job stretching an outside release and slipping inside, but at the same time, the safety wasn't getting involved on it, so I don't have to necessarily throw him back to the sideline. You look at a different trajectory of the ball, how you can lead him up field and different things like that you can always just fine tune and get better at. That's one of them I'd like to have back to where he could just catch it in stride and score a touchdown."
(On the well-timed play to WR Chris Godwin on his first reception last week, and if those are the types of plays the team needs to be successful against a 'quick strike' defense like San Francisco)
"Yeah, the play wasn't exactly designed to go to Chris, but the coverage dictated it that way, and so, just having guys in the right spots on time is how you have to be to beat a team like this. You have to have guys that are on time on their routes. If they get thrown off a little bit… like Chris stumbled a little bit at the top of that corner route, but he was able to get his head around quickly and make a play. Having everybody on the same page and being efficient is how you beat these guys."
(On what he has learned about WR Mike Evans' competitiveness and professionalism since arriving in Tampa Bay)
"I've talked about this route-running – his body language at the top of routes and how he communicates within how he runs his routes is truly unique and special. We've seen guys try and double team him, but he still finds a way to win. No matter what the coverage is, he always has a plan based on what route he has of how he is going to try to win based on leverage or coverage. It's something you really can't teach. It's a God-given ability that he has, and he's also had a ton of reps doing it at a high level for a long time. We're lucky to have him and we've got to keep finding ways to get him the ball."
(On if Evans wants to be great)
"Oh, absolutely. There is always that hunger with guys that are that good. They're never satisfied, and you can tell. They always want to do the next thing. They want to take it to the top and over that, as well."
(On having T Tristan Wirfs' reliability)
"I would say our whole line pass rush-wise [in terms of] protecting when we know we have to drop back and throw the ball, they've done a great job. Obviously, Tristan is an All-Pro guy and his transition from right to left has made my life a lot easier. Luke [Goedeke] has played great at right [guard], too. Having those guys to be able to protect, it means the world, knowing that you don't have to just go, 'One, two, three,' and get the ball out. You can actually go through your reads and trust it. At the same time, against a team like this, if the first couple of reads aren't there, I've got to check it down or get out and find positive yards."
(On facing San Francisco in his time with the Carolina Panthers)
"It was a physical game, I'll say that. Obviously, you can't exactly relate when it's a different system or a different organization but playing San Francisco at any time – no matter who you're with – they're going to be physical [and] they're going to line up and have a really good gameplan. They've had great players for a lot of years now, so they're going to put their guys in good positions to win. Like I said earlier, their front is amazing, but it allows their linebackers to be able to play free, and those are two really smart linebackers. Their recognition of plays is a huge difference. Going up against their defense – you have to be on time."
WIDE RECEIVER CHRIS GOWDIN
(On if he is satisfied only having one touchdown in nine games)
"No, not particularly. Obviously, I would love to get in the in zone more, but I think opportunities will be available later. I think just the way the offense is flowing right now, I'm more concerned with us getting on track offensively and getting wins than I am about my own individual stats. As we get better, you know, at the critical downs, like third down or red zone, I'm sure opportunities for me to get in the in zone will present themselves."
(On what is the key to beating the San Francisco 49ers)
"I think we have to do a great job at staying ahead of the chains. Like you said, they have a ton of talent, especially on the front line. They [have] a bunch of first-round picks, guys that have produced at a high level in this league, so we have to do a great job of scheming things up, staying ahead of the chains, and putting the pressure on them."
(On what he learned from the last game against the San Francisco 49ers)
"I learned that when you don't play well, great teams are going to put up a lot of points on you, and they are going to stop you defensively. It's a fun place to play, you know, those fans really get into it. We have to make sure we try to keep them out of the game as much as possible."
(On QB Baker Mayfield being one the better quarterbacks under pressure in the league)
"I think he just has a calm demeanor back there. He's not really ever panicked. He's played so much football that he's pretty comfortable, and he trusts the guys, so he goes out there, he trusts what he sees, and lets it rip. His ability to escape the pocket and extend plays really helps as well. I think his composure out there is the biggest thing."
(On how much fun a well-executed screen is when done successfully)
"Man, it's a lot of fun. Like you said, it takes more than just one guy, it's not just like an individual effort – it's the first level of the defense, the second level, and third level. That's something – especially the last few handful of weeks – we as receivers really take pride in is [being] a down-field blocker for the running back, tight ends, and each other. Like I think we had a screen later in the game to Trey [Palmer] that was just a little screen, and he caught it, and I was the one that blocked, and we got a first down. I take just as much pride in that as I would if I was the one catching it."
(On if the offense is at the point where they do whatever they want to do)
"I think we're a lot closer than we've been in the previous couple of weeks. We just have to continue to stack the success that we had last week. The hay is never in the barn. Whatever we did well last week, we have to one up it, because teams are watching that, and they are game planning for it, so we have to figure out ways to have counters off of it. You have to figure out ways to execute the things that are our bread and butter, and just keep moving forward. The better we do, the more confidence we get as an offense, so hopefully that will translate into more yardage, more first downs, more touchdowns, and then more wins."
(On the biggest challenge playing a game on the West Coast)
"Obviously, the travel is a bit of a challenge, the time change. But, to me, right now the biggest challenge is the team that we are facing. They've been really good the last handful of years, and last year they were one of the elite teams in the league. I think if we just go out there, we have to give it our best, we have to play hard, and force them to make the plays."
CORNERBACK CARLTON DAVIS III
(On going up against 49ers QB Brock Purdy again)
"I don't think it'll make a difference in the preparation part because we played somebody last year. Every year, they change a couple things and maybe he evolved his game a little bit more. You don't ever want to go in there trying to underestimate him just because you think you know him. Go in there with the mentality of I'm going to study him and get to know him, just as I did last year. Don't take anything for granted."
(On the 49ers losing three of their last four games and scoring 17 points in each of those losses)
"In any game, when a team turns the ball over, it's definitely a chance to win. You have to play [those] boys really hard – they're a tough team. More than anything, other than the schemes, watching the film, they play hard. They execute on everything they do. I think a big thing for us is to play really physical, put a hat on a hat and play hard. They play hard every time they take the field."
(On what the defensive keys are to success this week)
"We've got to run and hit. We've got to hit. We've got to own the line of scrimmage [and] stop the run, for sure – make them one dimensional. We've got to limit the big plays – no big plays over top. [We have to] stop the run and create turnovers."