49ers, Bucs shift course, still digging for goals

Field Level Media

November 18, 2023 at 1:38 am.

Division title goals – and beyond – remain attainable after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers snapped pronounced losing streaks with decisive victories last week.

The Buccaneers (4-5) and host 49ers (6-3) will try to build on that momentum at the other’s expense on Sunday in Santa Clara, Calif., a rematch of the 49ers’ 35-7 win in the same stadium last December.

The Bucs halted a four-game losing skid with a 20-6 triumph over the visiting Tennessee Titans last Sunday. The Buccaneers now find themselves a half-game behind the New Orleans Saints for first place in the mediocre-at-best NFC South.

“Everybody’s got a lot of pride. You don’t want to have a bad game and not come back from it. You’re not gonna go in the tank,” Tampa Bay coach Todd Bowles said. “… Everybody got down, put their nose down to the grindstone and got back to work as a group.”

San Francisco, which also played last week’s game in the state of Florida, ended a three-game slide with a 34-3 rout of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 49ers remain tied with the Seattle Seahawks atop the NFC West.

The Buccaneers have a tall order ahead in San Francisco, which ranks tied for third in the NFL in points scored per game (28.0) and tied for second in points allowed (15.9).

Brock Purdy threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns, and versatile Deebo Samuel returned from a three-game absence to rush for a score versus the Jaguars. Christian McCaffrey, who has made himself at home in the end zone, saw his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown come to an end at 17 games (including playoffs).

McCaffrey hardly had what is considered an off day with 142 yards, including 95 on the ground to boost his NFL-leading total to 747 rushing yards on the season.

McCaffrey left his stamp on the Buccaneers last season, rushing for 119 yards and a touchdown and adding two catches for 34 yards and a score in the 28-point win.

On the other side of the ball is Nick Bosa, who benefited from being reunited with his Ohio State teammate Chase Young en route to earning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Bosa registered 1.5 sacks to go along with three tackles and a forced fumble against Jacksonville.

Bosa, Young and others will look to make life difficult for Baker Mayfield, who threw for 278 yards and two touchdowns against the Titans. Mike Evans accounted for one of those scores after bulldozing his way into the end zone.

Evans reeled in six passes for 143 yards to continue his pace to reach the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the 10th consecutive season to start his NFL career.

“You can never fall asleep on Mike Evans. He is as scary as he was 10 years ago,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Baker on how he plays the position.”

Evans was limited in Wednesday’s practice due to a quadriceps injury but returned to full participation on Thursday. He rested Friday but carries no game designation into the weekend.

Safety Ryan Neal (thumb) was the only player Tampa Bay ruled out. Cornerback Carlton Davis III (toe), defensive back Josh Hayes (concussion), linebacker Devin White (foot) and guard Matt Feiler (knee) are questionable.

San Francisco offensive lineman Nick Zakelj was placed on injured reserve with a torn biceps on Wednesday.

Shanahan said the club will elevate an offensive lineman from the practice squad after placing a failed waiver claim on Calvin Throckmorton, who went to the Titans because of the worst-record priority.

Throckmorton started seven games for the Carolina Panthers this season.

Left guard Aaron Banks (toe) was the only other player ruled out by the 49ers. Defensive end Robert Beal (hamstring) and cornerbacks Darrell Luter and Samuel Womack (knee injuries) are questionable.

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