Buccaneers @ 49ers
Final Score: 49ers 27, Buccaneers 14
Writer: Jason Wolf (J_Wolf_Picks on Twitter)
This was one of those games where fans from both teams look at the score and say, “the final score wasn’t representative of the game at all!” The Tampa Bay Buccaneers marched the ball up and down the field with surprising success and had multiple potential touchdown passes dropped, leaving Bucs fans with a taste of disappointment after what could have been a much closer game. Tampa Bay was even in the red zone with a chance to make it a one-score game with less than three minutes left, but couldn’t get it done.
On the San Francisco 49ers side, fans will say Brock Purdy could have thrown for 500 yards and five touchdowns before losing his perfect passer rating in what could have been a 30-point blowout. They’re right as well, as the 49ers’ defense dropped a couple of surefire interceptions. In the end, the 49ers were never under any real pressure and Purdy diced up the Buccaneers to the tune of 333 yards, three touchdowns, and only four incompletions. Brandon Aiyuk hauled in a 76-yard touchdown in what was at the time the longest touchdown of the season, a distinction he briefly held (a couple of hours later, Josh Allen threw an 81-yard TD strike to Khalil Shakir). George Kittle ate the Bucs’ defense for lunch as the 49ers ultimately cruised to a sweat-free win.
- George Kittle – Often the odd man out in the 49ers’ smorgasbord of weapons, Kittle has picked up steam lately. This game marked the third one in a row where Kittle made a huge impact. Over the past month, Kittle is averaging 6.25 receptions on 108 YPG with two touchdowns. It’s easy to forget just how dangerous he can be when he’s busy grinding and opening up the offense for everyone else, but Kittle is on fire; if the 49ers feed him the ball, very few teams (if any) can shut him down.
- Brock Purdy – Well, then. Is there anyone who still thinks Brock Purdy is a “system QB?” Since coming off the bye, Purdy destroyed the Jaguars and Buccaneers, throwing for a combined 629 passing yards on 40/51 passing to go along with a 6:0 TD:INT ratio. His efforts yielded a YPA over 12 and a passer rating north of 150. San Francisco’s upcoming schedule over the next few weeks (at Seattle, at Philadelphia, home against the Seahawks, and at Arizona) is mouth-watering from a fantasy perspective. Look for Purdy to keep the good times rolling against subpar secondaries.
- Rachaad White – Coming as a surprise to many, White has excelled this season even with Tom Brady gone and running behind an often-criticized (and rightly so) offensive line. Week in and week out, he has shown off his receiving chops in particular; this week was no different, as he was efficient with his targets and made some very good defenders look silly. White’s rushing volume was expectedly low considering the game script and opponent but his receiving work remained steady. He even found the endzone against one of the NFL’s most formidable defenses. The Buccaneers’ surprising amount of success moving the ball against San Francisco bodes well for White’s stat lines in the coming weeks.
- Deebo Samuel – Yes, Deebo Samuel still looks amazing with the ball in his hands, but it feels like Brandon Aiyuk is not so slowly but surely taking over the role as WR1 for the 49ers. Gone are the days where Deebo regularly sees 10+ touches, as the 49ers seem to be saving some of Deebo’s best for the most important games. With the arrival of Christian McCaffrey last year and the emergence of Aiyuk, Deebo just isn’t the focal point of the offense like he was in 2021. He can still bust big plays at any time so no one is sitting him in their fantasy teams, but he certainly isn’t returning the value spent on him at ADP.
- 49ers Defense – Still one of the best defenses of the NFL, this was an unusually bend-don’t-break type performance from the 49ers; they allowed the Bucs to have a near even split in time of possession, and the Buccaneers had several long drives that could’ve resulted in points but didn’t due to dropped passes. Now without star safety Talanoa Hufanga, the defense isn’t going to be any better. With two games against Seattle and matchups with the Eagles and Ravens in the upcoming month, the defense could be in for some trouble if it performed like it did today.
- Chris Godwin – Not much is being expected of Chris Godwin in the fantasy community at this point. Even in full PPR leagues where Godwin offers his most value, Godwin is struggling to produce at a rate worthy of a start in fantasy lineups. At this point, having him as a WR3 is a risky proposition, a far cry from his glory days as a PPR god. Whether due to injuries, a poor connection with Baker Mayfield, or some combination of both, Godwin is at his low point in terms of on-field production.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Baker Mayfield: 29/45, 246 Yards, TD, INT | 3 Carries, 5 Yards, 1 Fumble (Lost)
Baker Mayfield is not the issue in Tampa Bay. Yes, having Mayfield as your quarterback is a double-edged sword as the same things that drive you crazy are the same things that will have you cheering when he makes a play. It’s a tough ask to go into San Francisco to face these 49ers without a reliable defense or run game to keep their star-studded defense honest. Yet Mayfield did an admirable job in leading his team down the field and putting them in a position to score more often than expected. Mayfield showed off his clutch chops in the fourth quarter as he converted several big third and fourth downs; he didn’t make many mistakes in the second half. He did make a couple of gutsy throws that could’ve been picked off, but no harm, no foul in this case. He was only intercepted in the end when his pass hit Chris Godwin in the hands and ricocheted into the waiting arms of a defender in the end zone. Overall, this was a promising performance from Mayfield as he played very respectably against one of the toughest defenses in the NFL.
- He did a terrible job of protecting the ball on his second quarter fumble when he got sacked. Mayfield had plenty of time to safely tuck the ball but tried to do way too much on a 1st & 5 instead of just taking the short loss. These kinds of plays come with the Baker Mayfield experience, as he does some of his best work while making things happen off the cuff but is also turnover-prone due to the aggressive nature of his play.
- Mayfield made an awful decision when he threw the ball right in front of Dre Greenlaw for what should have been one of the easiest interceptions of Greenlaw’s career. Instead, it bounced off his hands and fell incomplete instead of for an interception.
- It’s clear that Mayfield strongly prefers throwing to his right. When the team is in a hurry to score and Baker is trying to keep the pace fast, he is most of the time looking toward the right sideline to make a play.
- He put together a great drive in the fourth quarter down two scores, marching his team down the field while converting several crucial third and fourth downs, successfully putting his team in a position to score.
- Could have had yet another interception on a bad decision on a fourth quarter throw in the endzone. Tashuan Gipson could have easily picked it off, but it caught him off-guard so he was only ever going to bat the ball down. A defensive back with ballhawk tendencies would have picked it off and potentially tacked on a big return, as well.
Rachaad White: 9 Carries, 30 Yards, TD | 7 Targets, 6 Receptions, 28 Yards
One of the few remaining workhorse running backs in the NFL, White had an impactful game. While he didn’t make any huge plays, he provided a safety valve for Mayfield when the pocket was collapsing, which was often. White regularly made defenders miss after his receptions and displayed toughness on his interior runs, fighting for every yard in the process.
- 49ers All Pro S Talanoa Hufanga tore his ACL when White juked him out of his shoes. Hufanga is one of the best safeties in the NFL and White embarrassed him in the open field. We wish Hufanga a full and speedy recovery.
Chase Edmonds: 4 Carries, 8 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 11 Yards
Edmonds is strictly a backup. Rachaad White’s receiving prowess, as well as his bigger stature, make him more suited for in-between-the-tackles work as well as pass protection.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Mike Evans: 12 Targets, 5 Receptions, 43 Yards, TD
It doesn’t matter who’s throwing the ball to Mike Evans. Even vintage Jamarcus Russell might be able to lob it to Evans for a touchdown in a goal-to-go situation. Evans was peppered with targets in this one as he saw 12 balls go his way, leading his team by far; the next closest receiver saw seven targets (Chris Godwin). Evans was never the poster boy for efficiency due to the types of routes he runs, and with Baker Mayfield at QB, that remains truer than ever today. Still, Evans is on pace for over 1,300 yards, well on track to continue his record-breaking streak of consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to start a career.
- Has the highest degree of difficulty on his targets on the team, by far.
- “Mike down there somewhere” is a certified play in Baker Mayfield’s mind.
Chris Godwin: 7 Targets, 6 Receptions, 39 Yards
- Though his speed and separation may have fallen off a bit, Godwin’s hands are as sure as ever (target mentioned above notwithstanding). Godwin does his dirty work in the crowded parts of the field and routinely comes down with tough catches down the middle, often receiving contact immediately upon catching the ball and retaining possession.
- Still an efficiency king in terms of turning targets into receptions.
Trey Palmer: 1 Carry, 6 Yards | 6 Targets, 4 Receptions, 22 Yards
Due to the game script with the Bucs playing from behind and Mayfield throwing the ball a season-high 45 times, Trey Palmer saw 6 targets go his way, his second-most target total in a game this year. This was close to a ceiling game for him in terms of potential targets. Palmer displayed impressively sticky hands when he came down with an excellent juggling catch with a defender draped all over him
Cade Otton: 5 Targets, 4 Receptions, 49 Yards
Cade Otton is a perfectly serviceable tight end. He’s a capable pass blocker who runs his routes dependably. However, he does not create chunk plays after the catch. He did find himself open in the middle of the field for a 20-yard gain but that was a result of his route finding the perfect soft spot in the defense. I think if the Bucs had taken a Dalton Kincaid or Sam LaPorta in this year’s draft, it could have taken this offense to another level. Credit to Otton, though: he does not drop many passes as he has reliable hands, and his name is rarely called for a mistake.
Rakim Jarrett: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 41 Yards
After not seeing a target or touch last week, Rakim Jarrett found himself in the box score again this week, courtesy of a successful 41-yard pass play. Jarrett isn’t a regular part of the offense, but gets an opportunity on a designed pass or gadget play every other week or so.
Payne Durham: 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 13 Yards
Deven Jenkins: 1 Carry, 17 Yards | 1 Target
San Francisco 49ers
Brock Purdy: 21/25, 333 Yards, 3 TD | 4 Carries, 14 Yards
Purdy Perfection. Plethora of pinpoint passes perfectly placed in a peak Purdy performance. Okay, enough alliteration; you get the point: Brock Purdy finished with a perfect 158.3 passer rating, becoming the first 49ers quarterback to do so in nearly 40 years. Purdy was throwing dots and slinging it all over the field as the Buccaneers’ defense apparently could do nothing but watch 49ers’ skill players blow by defenders with the ball in their hands. Purdy was ridiculous in all three levels of the field. He perfectly executed dump-offs to McCaffrey out of the backfield, routinely hit George Kittle in stride, and dropped accurate deep bombs to Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. The effectiveness of the 49ers’ passing game made it seem like the 49ers should have been up by 30; it felt like they could score at any time. The only thing that stopped San Francisco from scoring more was play-calling, which seemed unnecessarily conservative at times. While Purdy no doubt benefits from a quarterback’s dream scenario, this game should provide Purdy some insulation from those labeling him as a system quarterback…at least until his next big test against a heavy-hitting team like the Philadelphia Eagles (Week 13) or Baltimore Ravens (Week 16).
- Purdy showed off excellent instincts and pocket awareness. He consistently maneuvered around pressure in the pocket, looking comfortable while doing so. He stepped up in the pocket to deliver dimes when appropriate and decisively took off and ran for a crucial few yards when needed.
- Purdy’s deep ball to Brandon Aiyuk was a thing of beauty: he placed the ball perfectly in Aiyuk’s hands as he was running in stride, just out of reach of the defender trying to make a play on the ball.
- He wasn’t afraid to attack the defense at all. Showed zero hesitation in throwing the ball in the middle of the field, even if his receiver was running between two levels of defenders. Purdy has ultimate trust in his receivers to execute their routes flawlessly, and Purdy delivered on his end with well-timed throws delivered with pinpoint accuracy.
- Stood tall in the pocket and delivered the football to his receiver, even when he knew he was about to take a lick from a pass rusher.
- Capable passer on the run.
- What missed opportunities? He had a perfect passer rating!
Christian McCaffrey: 21 Carries, 78 Yards | 5 Targets, 5 Receptions, 25 Yards, TD
Although McCaffrey ended his insane touchdown streak last week, he’s on his way to starting a new one as he found the end zone yet again in this one. It wasn’t CMC’s most eye-popping day on the field as he didn’t make any explosive plays, with his longest play from scrimmage going for 12 yards. With the 49ers comfortably leading almost the entire second half, McCaffrey saw 20+ carries and was mostly used to chew up the clock and keep the ball moving forward. However, CMC wasn’t as effective on the ground as expected in this one. McCaffrey finished with a sub 4.0 YPC, and if you take away his 12-yard run, he rushed for 66 yards on 20 carries, good for 3.3 YPC. Somewhat surprisingly, CMC and the ground game in general were the only things the Bucs were capably defending at all.
- Though CMC’s efficiency numbers are nothing to brag about in this one, he yet again finished with over 100 total scrimmage yards and another touchdown, representing the kind of unparalleled ridiculous “floor” that he has in this ideal offensive setup.
- McCaffrey did his best work on the 49ers’ second drive of the game as he had several of his biggest plays of the day; going for gains of 11, 9, and 8 (twice), as well as capping the drive off with a four-yard touchdown catch.
- CMC totaled 48 of his 103 yards on the 49ers’ second drive of the game. His efficiency plummeted in the second half with the 49ers sitting on a multiple-possession lead, when they couldn’t hide their plan to run out clock down with McCaffrey.
- Nothing in particular stood out; the Buccaneers boast one of the league’s best run defenses. As great as McCaffrey is, a tip of the cap is in order for the Tampa Bay front seven for keeping McCaffrey relatively contained.
Elijah Mitchell: 4 Carries, 24 Yards
Elijah Mitchell comes in occasionally to give CMC a breather. He looked great running the ball on his first carry with a solid amount of burst out of the backfield. A talented runner, we’ve seen that he can be very productive as the lead back on this 49ers team, but he’s no CMC and faces an uphill battle to gain a decent snap share.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Brandon Aiyuk: 6 Targets, 5 Receptions, 156 Yards, TD
Sometime after Deebo Samuel signed his new contract and CMC came to town, Brandon Aiyuk took over for Deebo Samuel as the 49ers’ WR1; the offense is better off for it. Aiyuk has soared to new heights this year and it’s showing on the field through a bevy of explosive plays. He displays great body control, capable hands, and regularly speeds past defenders for solid YAC. This game was just another notch in Aiyuk’s belt and another step towards bonafide star status as he marches towards shattering the career-best marks he established last season.
- Electric with his release off the line of scrimmage. On his 70+ yard touchdown, he gained separation almost immediately off the snap. Made a little move to pause the defender and remained a full step or two ahead of him as Purdy floated the ball out of the defender’s reach for a long touchdown.
- Aiyuk has next-level breakaway speed in the open field.
Deebo Samuel: 1 Carry, -1 Yard | 4 Targets, 3 Receptions, 63 Yards
Nearly impossible to bring down on first contact, Samuel is seemingly always making the first defender miss; either that or he’s plowing through him entirely. A big play king in his own right, the 49ers just aren’t relying on him to do as much this year, which is a good thing given his history of nagging injuries in recent years.
George Kittle: 9 Targets, 8 Receptions, 89 Yards, TD
Kittle was seemingly wide open on almost every single reception. Between defensive miscommunications and Kittle consistently burning his defender, the Buccaneers’ defense was truly helpless when attempting to defend Kittle. Targeting Kittle out of the play-action passing game was a cheat code for the 49ers. It seemed to work every single time, as Kittle was generally wide open when targeted. This included his touchdown catch, which was aided by a defensive miscommunication between linebackers.