49ers Dominated At Home 21-0 By Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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NFL Scores And Standings: The Abysmal NFC West

Even as the San Francisco 49ers were embarrassing themselves at Candlestick Park against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the rest of the NFC West was doing its best to keep them in the divisional race. The NFC West had an epically bad Sunday, losing all four of their games 121-49 and continuing to live up to the joke that it has become around the league. We’ve discussed the 49ers ad nauseum so let’s take a quick look at the rest of the division and where things stand after eleven weeks:

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Arizona Cardinals: The Chiefs came into this game on a mini-skid that included a decimation at the hands of the Denver Broncos. However, the Chiefs righted the ship and regained control of the AFC West while sending the Arizona Cardinals to a 3-7 record courtesy of a 31-13 victory. The Cardinals got a lot of yards from Derek Anderson, but after taking a 3-0 lead there was little else they could do. From the second quarter on there was little they could do to stop the Chiefs offense as Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles combined to average 5.5 yards per rush and run over the Cardinals.

St. Louis Rams vs. Atlanta Falcons: This game was a back and forth affair before the Falcons pulled away in the fourth quarter and won 34-17 and really sealed it on a key Sam Bradford interception. The loss dropped the Rams to 4-6. The Falcons did just about everything right as Matt Ryan as efficient and Michael Turner barreled over the Rams with relative ease to the tune of 4.7 yards per carry.

New Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks fell to 5-5 after losing to the Saints 34-19. Although the Seahawks took an early 3-0 lead, they struggled to get their offense going until they were trailing by multiple scores. They cut the lead to eight in the second quarter but the Saints ended that threat fairly quickly. On the ensuing drive, Drew Brees completed three passes and took a roughing the pass penalty that got the Saints back up 14 points. The Seahawks managed two more field goals the rest of the way.

The current NFC West standings are as follows:

Seattle: 5-5
St. Louis: 4-6
San Francisco: 3-7
Arizona: 3-7

All four teams are alive in some form or fashion in the race for the division title, but things should start sorting themselves out at least a little bit pretty soon. Next week the 49ers and Cardinals meet on Monday Night Football (ESPN has to be PUMPED for that one). One could reasonably argue that the loser of that matchup is more or less out of the playoff race.

Technically the loser could remain two games back if the Seahawks lose at home to the Chiefs, so maybe this isn’t as much of an elimination game as I think. But the loss definitely puts the team in a much bigger hole than they might otherwise like.


San Francisco 49ers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 49ers Lay Big Fat Egg In 21-0 Loss

The San Francisco 49ers entered today’s game with a golden opportunity to gain some ground in the NFC West, and instead they laid an egg as the offense failed to show up. The 49ers offense could do seemingly nothing right all day long as they were shut out at home for the first time since 1977.

Although Troy Smith struggled immensely for really the first time, blame can be spread around the team. Frank Gore could get nothing going against a rushing defense that had struggled thus far. The offensive line was atrocious as they gave up numerous sacks to a defense that was not exactly known for their pass rush. The receivers dropped some catchable passes and Josh Morgan had a critical early game fumble.

Of course, I don’t want to take away from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who took advantage of the 49ers mistakes and played a solid ball game. Josh Freeman struggled early but took care of business late, and their rushing attack put together a very solid effort. The Bucs defense also deserves a ton of credit for their best performance of the year as they stopped the 49ers in just about every facet of the game.

All in all it was an awful day at Candlestick and brutally tough to watch on television. This team certainly makes it hard to enjoy football.


San Francisco 49ers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bucs Lead 7-0 In Ugly, Boring First Half

After one half of football, fans may start demanding their money back as the 49ers and Buccaneers have put together some pretty rough football. The teams have mostly exchanged punts, although the Bucs offense did manage to put together a strong first quarter drive and take a 7-0 lead.

The 49ers offense has seemed intent on forcing the running game against a struggling Bucs rush defense. However, the Bucs have come to play and Frank Gore has been held to 13 yards on 9 carries in his worst performance of the season. Troy Smith has had his struggles but seemed to be turning things around on the 49ers last drive of the half. However, after completing a succession of passes, the 49ers ran an inside draw on 3rd and 4 that saw Gore get stopped at the line of scrimmage. After the 49ers punted, Josh Freeman ran three straight shotgun draws to run out the half.

The 49ers defense has stepped up today and held Freeman to 31 passing yards. The 49ers offense will get the ball to start the second half and really needs to figure out a way to find some consistency. The passing game was starting to open up as Smith started looking for his playmakers a bit more. We’ll see if the 49ers pick that up in the second half.

Today represents a huge opportunity for the 49ers. The Cardinals lost this morning at Kansas City, the Rams are currently down 6 to Atlanta, and the Seahawks are down 15 at New Orleans. A 49ers victory combined with those three losses would get the 49ers to within a game of the Seahawks, tied with the Rams, and a full game ahead of Arizona. They simply can NOT waste this chance.


Week 11 NFL Matchups To Watch: Frank Gore vs. Anybody On Tampa Bay's Defense

Against the Carolina Panthers in week seven, the 49ers neglected to execute a gameplan many thought was the one to go with. The Panthers had one of the league's worst rushing defense, coupled with a top five ranking in shutting down the pass. Rostering one of the better running backs in the league in Frank Gore, it only made sense that the Niners would hit the ground running and punish the Panthers with four quarters of hard running. That didn't end up happening, as the 49ers took the field slinging the ball around and having nothing to show for it.

Now, they face a Buccaneers defense that is presently 31st in the league against the run, giving up an average of 143.8 yards per game on the season. That's a number Frank Gore can take to the bank, even given the Buccaneers slow creep towards better numbers of late. They did hold the Carolina Panthers from some staggering total, but still gave up over 100 yards. The Bucs however, won that game handily.

So it will take a little more than just Frank Gore to win this game for San Francisco, but he should be the player to watch going into the game. Over the last three games, the Buccaneers have allowed 116 yards per, and play better away than they do at home, with a 124.5 average against 159.2. Only the Buffalo Bills have worse numbers in regards to run defense.

Gameplan-wise, the 49ers should be going out there and running the ball hard. They need to open up the play action and utilize Delanie Walker some more on the swings and screens after his stellar performance versus the St. Louis Rams, this will open up Frank Gore or even Brian Westbrook some more on outside runs, which the 49ers should be utilizing more now that opposing teams have keyed in on rookie left guard Mike Iupati and the team's propensity for pulling runs in his direction.

For fantasy information regarding the 49ers start-or-sit situation, I talked a bit about that yesterday.


Week 11 NFL Matchups To Watch: Troy Smith's "Gunslinging"

As a colleague over at Niners Nation will have you know, Troy Smith is not some wayward gunslinger who quite honestly, just does not care. The media's recent propensity for labeling him as such due to a few wayward throws is, how you say: jumping the gun. Get it? Still though, he does have a tendency to go with the deep route as opposed to the short or intermediate route. When he does go for the deep route, it's not always a sure-thing when he does pull the trigger. Does that make him a gunslinger? It's debatable at best.

With someone like say, Brett Favre, he'll toss the ball with reckless abandon regardless of coverage. Troy, up to this point, has at least looked like he was reading coverages before he let loose. Bouncing on the balls of his feet, Troy will fire deep and complete it every time. When he's on the run, he'll still fire off deep and complete it, though not so much a sure-thing completion in this regard.

The Buccaneers have only the 22nd-ranked defense in the NFL this year, but that's a product of extremes on both ends of the spectrum. Their rushing defense is one away from being the league worst, whereas their passing defense is just inside the top ten at number nine.

They're tied for seventh in the league in takeaways and are positively licking their chops at the prospect of a Brett Favre-esque quarterback with which to feast on delicious interceptions off of. Troy has gotten away with some over-zealous throws thus far, but will his luck run out on Sunday? Is it luck at all?


Tampa Bay's Mike Williams To Start On Sunday

As noted previously in this space, Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie receiver Mike Williams was arrested this morning under suspicion of DUI. Immediate reports came out regarding his status for this Sunday's game against San Francisco, some claiming he would be playing and others saying he would most certainly not be playing.

Now it looks like we have something definitive, ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that Williams will make the trip to San Francisco and start, despite the arrest. Buccaneers' head coach Raheem Morris said he made the decision after speaking to team captains Josh Freeman and Ronde Barber. Whether or not one thinks he should be playing is irrelevant at this point, he's starting and the 49ers will have to account for him.

That's a tall order for the 49ers struggling secondary, as Williams is the team's leading receiver. 40 receptions, 627 yards and 5 touchdowns, with clutch reception after clutch reception to his name. Exactly the kind of player to depend on during a comeback in say, the last two minutes of a football game: San Francisco's worst recurring nightmare. The 49ers will need to put their best on him, but with fellow rookie Arrelious Benn and tight end Kellen Winslow ... it's a stiff test all-around.


49ers-Buccaneers: Mike Williams Arrested, Status Sunday Is Up In The Air

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams was arrested early Friday morning on suspicion of driving under the influence. Reports state that Williams had a blood alcohol level below Florida's legal limit, but was administered a urine test, generally being required when substance abuse other than alcohol is suspected. Williams failed a field sobriety test after being pulled over for swerving and driving over the speed limit.

His status for Sunday's game is in question, nobody seems to have any solid information on the subject. Williams has been released on a $500 bail, and two reports have surfaced regarding his status for Sunday. One report says he will play, as per a Bucs official, whereas another says he likely will not. Either way, he's been charged and released, while his toxicology report will take some time to process, it's now in the hands of the Buccaneers and perhaps the league office.

Williams has been a pleasant surprise for Tampa Bay this year, the rookie receiver has caught forty passes for 627 yards with five touchdowns, he's the team's leading receiver, over both second round pick Arrelious Benn and pro bowl tight end Kellen Winslow.

The San Francisco 49ers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, November 21st.


49ers vs. Buccaneers Injury Updates: Replacing Joe Staley and Joe Nedney

The 49ers and Bucs are both preparing for a game that qualifies at the very least as “We’d reeeeeaaaaallllly like to win this.” As the 49ers prepare for this game they do so likely missing two of their starters, Joe Staley and Joe Nedney. Staley fractured his fibula last Sunday against the Rams and is out approximately four to six weeks. The team is hoping he could be back for a potential playoff game and thus has yet to put him on injured reserve.

Joe Nedney injured his knee on the opening kickoff of the Rams game but hung around long enough to kick the game-winning field goal in overtime. He had an MRI that revealed a right knee strain and a bone bruise. While he is not officially out for Sunday’s game, the odds are slim that he’ll play. The 49ers have actually signed former camp body Shane Andrus, which would seem to indicate Nedney is unlikely to play on Sunday.


49ers vs. Buccaneers Week 11 NFL Odds: 49ers A Slim Favorite

The San Francisco 49ers enter their game this weekend against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a two-game winning streak that has them 3-6 and looking to get back in the thick of the NFC West division race. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to town amidst a resurgence that has them sitting at 6-3 and in the thick of both the NFC South and wild card races. Naturally, the 49ers are sitting as 3 to 3.5 point favorites.

A home team is viewed as an automatic three-point favorite because of home field advantage. On that theory that would make this game a toss-up at a neutral site. There are obviously other factors that play into it, but for the most part, the 49ers sit as a slight favorite. The 49ers are current 4-5 against the spread and failed to cover 4.5 points against the Rams.

Winning is all that matters, but if you’re looking to bet money, this is a tough one to call. I do think the 49ers will win, but I’d imagine this will be a tight battle that goes down to the wire. Josh Freeman has been very solid thus far and will keep his Bucs in this one. The 49ers are rolling out Troy Smith for the third game and have seen some explosive play-making by the young QB. It should be an incredibly entertaining back and forth affair.

You might want to keep your money away from this if the spread sits at 3.5 or more. I could see betting the game at three points because you probably would see no worse than a push if the 49ers win. A one- or two-point victory is certainly a possibility, but if I had to pick any margin of victory, I’d go with three.

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