Gameday: Bucs search for gold in San Francisco

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Santa Clara, CA–

What’s At Stake?

It may not seem like that big of a deal but the opportunity to get back to the .500 mark is huge for the Bucs. At 3-3 they would not only maintain their hold on second place in the NFC South, but they would start to become a legitimate player in the NFC wild card race. Of course, the timing of such a jump probably couldn’t be much better. The Bucs won back some confidence by beating the Panthers two weeks ago and while injuries remain a major issue, they are starting to get some people back. And don’t look now, but the schedule tends to get a bit more favorable in the coming weeks, with three straight home games up next, including a rematch with the Falcons two weeks down the road.

Key matchup

The Bucs rediscovered their offensive identity during their 17-14 victory over the Panthers two weeks ago, running the ball on 37 of their 67 offensive plays. With wide receiver Vincent Jackson out and the 49ers struggling to stop the run, it makes sense for the Bucs to stick to the same pattern and build their offensive attack around third-string tailback Jacquizz Rodgers. After a two-week layoff, Rodgers should be week rested and ready for another heavy workload. It’s questionable whether Rodgers has the ability to break off a big gainer, but he can certainly grind out the yards and wear down a defense. Against the 49ers vulnerable defense, that should be the Bucs goal.

Statistically speaking

The 49ers have the 27th-ranked defense in the NFL, but it’s largely due to the fact they rank 32nd overall against the run that they’re rated so poorly. The 49ers will go into this game ranked seventh overall against the pass, allowing just 215.5 yards per game, and the play of the cornerback duo of Tramaine Brock and rookie Rashard Robinson is one of the reasons. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Brock (44.1-percent) and Robinson (50-percent) and are two of only 13 cornerbacks in the league that have allowed a completion percent of 50-percent or less on passes thrown against their coverage. All the more reason for the Bucs to pound the rock today.

He said it

“He’s still playing in the NFL so he’s still a darn good player and a very good athlete. You saw it in the game against Buffalo when he tucked the ball down (and ran eight times for 66 yards). He has a very good knack for reading the rush lanes up front and once he sees it, he takes off and goes. But what we have to do is we have to look at what he’s done in the past. I mean, he played a little in preseason. But he’s been banged up. He’s been through a lot this past offseason, in terms of surgeries and getting healthy. But it seems like he’s getting healthier.’’ – Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith on 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick.

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