Tampa Bay Buccaneers Top observations from the Buccaneers 27-14 loss to the 49ers in Week 11 Brianna Dix
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell to the San Francisco 49ers on the road in Week 11 at Levi's Stadium. In the hard-fought battle, missed opportunities in the red zone and an inability to finish sustained drives kept the Bucs out of the win column. A third-quarter uptick in production by the 49ers, including a 76-yard touchdown reception for Brandon Aiyuk and a wide-open George Kittle score, led to San Francisco's victory. The game was 13-7 at halftime but Brock Purdy spearheaded San Francisco's efforts at Levi's Stadium with 17 unanswered points out of the half. The loss dropped the Bucs to 4-6 on the season and a game behind the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South standings and a second-place tie with the Atlanta Falcons.
"It was not just the red zone offense," said Todd Bowles. "We could have made more plays on defense in the third quarter, and we could have made some plays on special teams. We made one in the fourth quarter to get us down there and a chance to make it close and to take a lead if we got in, but one time the ball got snapped early and we just have to execute. When you get down that far, I thought we moved the ball between the 20's pretty good but we have to find a way to punch it in the end zone. That is what is holding us back, it's the small things that are holding us back from winning."
Baker Mayfield once again showcased his moxie and poise under pressure, completing 29 of 45 passes for 246 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Mayfield's block on Nick Bosa in the second quarter to set up an elongated lane for Trey Palmer on an end-around showcased his offensive lineman mentality. In the second quarter, Mayfield connected with Mike Evans on a one-yard touchdown reception. On that 10-play, 75-yard drive, tight end Cade Otton fired out of the slot and came up the seam for a 27-yard gain, exploiting the void. On an end-around, Deven Thompkins fought his way to the first-and-goal marker with Otton lead blocking. On the ensuing scoring play, Mayfield showcased his patience as the play developed. The Bucs' signal-caller read the defender and waited for Evans to hit the second window, then released a dart.
In the fourth quarter, Mayfield connected with Rakim Jarrett down the middle of the field for a 41-yard gain, which helped set up the Rachaad White touchdown rush. White plowed into the end zone with Cody Mauch paving the way with a critical block on Arik Armstead. The Bucs mirrored the 49ers with 22 first downs, finding synergy to move down the field. Tampa Bay had three possessions in the first half, including one that resulted in a costly punch out by Fred Warner. Whether Rachaad White's nasty move in the open field off a play-action pass working Talanoa Hufanga in the third quarter or Mike Evans' physical break to the outside for a critical first down, the Bucs were able to move the chains with key plays from their fixtures. Miscues in the red zone became the deciding factor.
Brock Purdy put up an impressive performance, achieving a perfect passer rating of 158.3, becoming the first player to accomplish the feat since Joe Montana and Steve Young in 1989. He completed 21 of 25 attempts, threw three touchdowns and no interceptions. The 49ers were able to work the middle of the field by crossing the face of Bucs' defenders and early in the ballgame, Christian McCaffrey found success bouncing runs to the outside. With motions that press and force tough angles, paired with the team's versatile run scheme with Trent Williams, George Kittle and Kyle Juszczyk pulling and wrapping around to stress C-gap assignments, the 49ers were effective at getting their hybrid playmakers in open space. Early in the third quarter, a drive that started at the two-yard line, the 49ers cashed in two plays later on a Brandon Aiyuk 76-yard touchdown catch down the left sideline that began the home team's reinvigoration during the second half. Aiyuk was unchallenged at the release and got over the top. He finished the game with five receptions for 156 yards. Purdy alternated between his talented cast, including George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey - all of which had at least 62 yards from scrimmage.
Rookie outside linebacker Yaya Diaby solidified the defense with a two-sack performance, with his second setting up third-and-19 off a lethal power move. Lavonte David accumulated seven tackles, a sack and three tackles for loss before he was sidelined due to a groin injury. Antoine Winfield Jr. led the Bucs with a season-best 16 tackles, flying sideline to sideline. Vita Vea, the Bucs' menacing nose tackle, notched another sack, bringing his season total to 5.5. The Bucs took a significant blow on the injury front against the 49ers, as three starting defenders exited the game and did not return: Carlton Davis III (hip), Jamel Dean (ankle) and David with the aforementioned groin injury. All underwent MRI's and the significance of those injuries will be disclosed at a later date.
Highlight: Deven Thompkins
Second-year shifty receiver, Deven Thompkins, had a day between the hash marks. In the fourth quarter, he put the Bucs in prime positioning with another shot at the end zone. He took advantage of San Francisco's punt with little hang time and returned it 51 yards to the 49ers' 13-yard line. The play was the longest return of Thompkins' career. The Niners' coverage team took poor angles of pursuit and Thompkins exploited, quickly bouncing to the outside and turning on the jets. Whether jet sweeps, end-arounds or motions, the threat of Thompkins' speed and explosiveness forces the defense to play on their heels. Thompkins may not 'wow' on the stat sheet, but his presence was certainly felt in Santa Clara for the Bucs.