TAMPA – It was a slow start and a sloppy, mistake filled finish at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. The 2019 season did not go the way new Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians had hoped. As a result, adjustments must be made quickly as Tampa Bay travels to Carolina on a short week to take on the Panthers Thursday night.
From the time the ball was kicked off in this game, things were not going the Bucs’ way. After a quick 3 and out series by the Tampa Bay offense, Bradley Pinion had his punt blocked. The 49ers took over from the Bucs’ 33 yard line. 4 plays later, Jimmy Garoppolo connected with tight end George Kittle for a touchdown but the score was negated by an offensive pass interference. San Francisco settled for a field goal and took a 3-0 lead. On the Buccaneers next drive, a coach’s challenge on a non called defensive pass interference went in Bruce Arians favor. 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman was determined to have grabbed the jersey of Bucs’ receiver Mike Evans. Tampa Bay gained one more first down via penalty after a defensive holding call, but ultimately punted again.
Later in the quarter, Buccaneers’ quarterback Jameis Winston scrambled and slid for a first down. On the slide, former Tampa Bay linebacker Kwon Alexander delivered a helmet to helmet hit on Winston. Alexander was penalized 15 yards and ejected from the game. The quarter ended with San Francisco leading 3-0.
After 2 Cameron Brate touchdowns were erased due to holding penalties on Demar Dotson, the drive ended with an OJ Howard lost fumble. The 49ers took over from their own 8 yard line. 6 plays later, the Bucs scored their first points of 2019 as Vernon Hargreaves took an interception of Jimmy Garoppolo 15 yards to the end zone. This was Hargreaves’ second career interception and first touchdown. San Francisco’s next drive would see 2 more touchdowns nullified due to penalties, a hold and an illegal formation. They settled for a field goal as Robbie Gould connected from 36 yards.
On the very first play of the ensuing drive, Jameis Winston delivered a pass to OJ Howard that would have resulted in a first down. But Howard dropped the pass into the hands of 49ers linebacker Matt Nzeocha. With only 10 second to go in the first half, San Francisco receiver Deebo Samuel fumbled as the 49ers were positioning themselves for a last second field goal. Winston took a knee on the next play and Tampa Bay led 7-6 at halftime.
San Francisco received the second half kickoff and marched downfield on a 7 play, 52 yard drive capped off by a 39 yard touchdown reception by Richie James Jr. On the second play of the next Bucs’ drive, Richard Sherman intercepted Jameis Winston and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown. As a result, the 49ers were quickly up 20-7 in the second half. Tampa Bay finally sustained a long scoring drive after getting the ball back. After a 28 yard connection to Chris Godwin, Winston found Godwin for a 10 yard touchdown pass 3 plays later. The Buccaneers trailed 20-14 going into the game’s final quarter.
Tampa Bay lined up for a field goal attempt four plays into the 4th quarter. After an encroachment penalty on the 49ers, the Bucs brought the offense back onto the field. They attempted a touchdown on 4th and goal from the 2 yard line. Jameis Winston threw incomplete on an attempt to Chris Godwin and the score remained 20-14. The teams traded field goals and the Buccaneers were in position for a potential game winning drive with 2:17 left in the game. However, on the first play of said drive, Winston was intercepted for the third time in the game. Ahkello Witherspoon took an ill advised Winston pass 25 yards to the end zone. Garoppolo connected with Deebo Samuel for the 2 point conversion and that wrote a finish to Tampa Bay’s season opening defeat.
FINAL: San Francisco 49ers – 31, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 17
Winston finished the game 20-36 with 194 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Top receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin recorded only 5 combined catches in the game.
Week One Positives
Running back Ronald Jones II tallied 75 yards on 13 carries and added an 18 yard reception in the game. This was a welcomed sight for both Jones and his coaches as the second year back only managed 44 yards in 9 games in 2018.
For the most part, the debut of Todd Bowles defense was also a success. The defensive unit held San Francisco to only 256 total yards and generated a touchdown.
The Buccaneers don’t have a lot of time to think about their offensive woes due to a short week of practice coming up. The team must travel to Carolina for a week 2 Thursday night clash with the division rival Carolina Panthers.
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