The Buccaneers had come into this game on a four-game losing streak, but playing a team like the 49ers is always a good remedy to break out of a slump. There were very few positives to extract from this performance from the 49ers perspective, who improved their odds at the number one overall pick after this road loss.
Reflections on San Francisco 49ers Week 12 Loss to Tampa Bay Buccaneers
49ers Pass Attack Can’t Develop a Rhythm
The 49ers offense really failed to develop any kind of meaningful rhythm throughout the game and weren’t able to adequately prolong drives. The 49ers offense went just one for eight converting third downs, not staying out on the field long enough to turn possessions into points.
After a historic debut that already seems like a long time ago, Nick Mullens is starting to revert back to the form that originally made him an undrafted quarterback. In his three NFL starts, he has gone from historically impressive, to nondescriptly mediocre, to painfully bad, which evokes the question of if he’s going to continue to regress. Mullens finished 18/32 for 221 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, and a 62.1 passer rating. He has now turned the ball over multiple times in consecutive games.
There were many throws he made that just looked woefully inaccurate, although his offensive line certainly did him no favors. Mullens was sacked four times and hit nine times, constantly harassed by the pass rush that effectively stymied any type of groove the offense would look like they’d be approaching.
Dante Pettis was the only 49ers receiver that made a significant impact in this game. He caught four passes for 77 yards and the team’s only touchdown. George Kittle caught six passes, but he wasn’t able to create any big plays after the catch, which is what his game has been predicated on. Kittle was held to 48 yards on those eight receptions, averaging just eight yards. His longest gain of the game was just 12 yards. The 49ers really rely on him to turn up the field and eat up chunks of yards after creating separation, and the Bucs defense did a really good job of containing his explosiveness.
49ers Run the Ball Well
Matt Breida was the most impressive player on offense for the 49ers, breaking off some big runs and providing a little spark for a unit that was sorely lacking in that department this game. Breida finished with 106 rushing yards on 14 carries, while the team had 148 total rushing yards on 24 carries for an average of 6.2 yards per rush. The 49ers might have had a chance in this game if there was any semblance of a passing attack to work as a compliment to that run game.
Bucs Offense Carves up 49ers Secondary
The Buccaneers basically have the rest of the season to decide whether or not Jameis Winston can be their quarterback of the future. This performance by Winston will certainly help his cause, as he finished 29/38 for 312 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 117.4 passer rating.
The Bucs offense went 7-13 on third down conversions, keeping drives alive and ultimately winning the time of possession battle. The 49ers defense was able to do a good job of limiting the ground attack of the Bucs, holding them to just 3.5 yards per rush. However, there were too many big plays allowed by the secondary, particularly by Mike Evans, who had a really nice game.
Evans finished with six catches and 116 yards, continuing an impressive season in which he has eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving with five games left in the season. Adam Humphries had six catches and 54 yards and a touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter that essentially put the game out of reach.
Lost Season for 49ers
The rest of this season for the 49ers is going to be more about seeing which roster pieces fit into the team’s plans beyond this year. With the playoffs out of reach, wins would be at best a morale boost and at worst an impediment towards an optimum draft position. There are no meaningless games in the NFL, though. The 49ers aren’t in playoff contention, but the next five games are going to be a crucial opportunity for the players to show their value to the squad going forward.