49ers Defense Keys 48-3 Pummelling Of Buccaneers

The San Francisco 49ers are coming back from a road trip where they went 2-0, and currently lead the NFC West with a 3-1 record. They're feeling good, but face a stiff test in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by quarterback Josh Freeman. For more on the game and the team in general, go to Niners Nation or check out the enemy at SB Nation Tampa Bay and Bucs Nation.

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49ers vs. Buccaneers Postgame Notes, Observations

The 49ers are now 4-1 and looking better every game. If not for one big play, they'd be 5-0, but they don't need to be perfect to sit atop the NFC West. We've already got a recap, so here's some notes I took during the 49ers-Buccaneers game while up in the pressbox. 

 

  • In the second half, I saw Aldon Smith lining up at right outside linebacker. On the left side? Parys Haralson. Ahmad Brooks came in on that drive on the final third down, which resulted in an incompletion. Later on, Haralson was back on the right side. It's very clear to me that the 49ers are exploring their options with Brooks and Haralson, to see where best to get Smith on the field. It appears to be a priority.
  • Chris Culliver played well in coverage and had an interception on a pass intended for Micheal Spurlock. Keep in mind that Culliver is just now getting significant playing time, so this could be signs of good things to come. 
  • Jim Harbaugh split out, ran routes and caught passes from quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick in pre-game warmups. Just a small observation and another look into his coaching style.
  • The Carlos Rogers interception was something of beauty, and great misdirection by Vic Fangio. Rogers had been playing man most of the game, and then was given free roam over that side in zone, drifted in front of the tight end and picked it off. Josh Freeman didn't see him until he was trying (and failing) to tackle him.
  • Almost the entire offensive line seemed to play better, but I did notice Mike Iupati struggling a little, which fits perfectly, of course. The other four guys have been bad lately, so when they turn it around, Iupati has his worst game yet. Great.
  • The play to Josh Morgan was very unfortunate - you know the one. It's bothersome that Jim Harbaugh was throwing the ball at that point in the game, even with rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the field. If the 49ers are winning, it's not the time to audition - especially not with starting receivers while other receivers are injured. Maybe a running back would have gotten hurt or something like that, but like I said ... just very unfortunate.
  • Alex Smith read through his progressions, which is always a nice change when it happens. The times he threw the underneath routes were actually in situations where he should have, which is great. Unfortunately, he still thinks Michael Crabtree is ten feet tall.
  • Ricky Jean Francois looked like a very capable nose tackle, no doubt aided by his weight gain this offseason. But the 49ers defensive line is still lacking pressure, as they did when Sopoaga wasn't hurt. 
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49ers Vs. Buccaneers: San Francisco Recap By The Numbers

This was a huge game for the San Francisco 49ers, as they capped Fleet Week with a mauling of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 49ers defense held the Bucs to a single first-quarter field goal and totally shut down Tampa's offense.

In fact, Tampa Bay only managed 14 first downs during the game and seemed to spend the whole game on their third down. They converted seven of 16 third downs and failed to convert their only fourth-down attempt.

San Francisco quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick combined for 205 passing yards, compared to Tampa's 186. Smith threw three touchdowns and no interceptions.

The true disparity between the two teams was in the running games. San Francisco put together 213 rushing yards while holding the Bucs to a scant 86 yards on the ground. Frank Gore did the bulk of the running for the Niners, with 20 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown. Josh Morgan was the receiving star of the day for the 49ers, averaging 15 yards per catch as he racked up 75 yards.

The San Francisco defense also contributed more than their fair share, as Carlos Rogers had a 31-yard pick-six at the beginning of the second quarter. Chris Culliver also had an interception and picked up 23 yards on the play. Aldon Smith picked up two sacks on the day.

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49ers Vs. Buccaneers: Head Coach Jim Harbaugh Praises Team's "Outstanding Day"

As could be expected, San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh had nothing but praise for his team following their 48-3 thrashing of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

Harbuagh had enough kind words to go around that at his post-game press conference he pointed out solid performances from his offense, defense, and special teams. He spoke highly of his defensive contributors, and stated that the 49ers secondary in particular "shined the brightest."

Regarding quarterback Alex Smith, Harbaugh called his performance "terrific," noting that the offensive line was at their best .He enjoyed the way Smith made cool-headed decisions for the duration of the game.

Smith was asked by reporters whether this was the most complete team victory so far this season. "I think the best two halves of football we've put together, for sure," said Smith. Harbaugh wouldn't go quite that far when responding to a similar question, but thought it was an outstanding day across the board.

Harbaugh's most glowing praise may have been for wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Referring to a high catch that Crabtree made on third down, Harbaugh said he's never seen a player with hands that strong.For Crabtree's part, he heaped the praise back on Harbaugh, saying the coach instilled in the team a will to win. "It's a good thing," said Crabtree.

In keeping with the huge Bay Area news of this weekend, Harbaugh was asked about how special this win was considering the impact that Al Davis had on his coaching career. Harbaugh said that Davis would have been proud of the way the 49ers performed today. "He would have been proud of those guys."

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Josh Morgan Injury Update: Sources Indicate Fractured Right Ankle

The San Francisco 49ers are not really giving any official indication about the status of Josh Morgan. It's a mix of good news and bad news based on who you listen to. But the last report is probably the bleakest.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh didn't seem to reveal much information about Morgan's status when asked about it after the game.

Jim harbaugh said: "Q: What’s the injury status of Joshua Morgan?

HARBAUGH: We’ll see, we’ll see. When we were out there on the field Josh said it was starting to cool down. We’ll get an evaluation."

Mindi Bach of CSN tweeted some interesting news after the game.

No official word on extent of Joshua Morgan's injury. He left locker room on crutches. No MRI scheduled; I assume saw what needed on xray

The lack of an MRI potentially means Morgan didn't suffer any ligament damage. It could also mean Morgan suffered a clean break and no MRI would be needed.

However, the talk around the locker room seemed to suggest Morgan had sustained a serious injury. And now sources after the game indicate a firm verdict on what the injury could be. Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reports.

The 49ers' victory came at a cost, as receiver Joshua Morgan sustained a fractured right ankle, a source close to Morgan told CSNBayArea.com on Sunday evening.

 If it is a fracture, Morgan is likely out of it for awhile, leaving the Niners with Michael Crabtree, Ted Ginn and Kyle Williams. Not a bad group of receivers, but I'm sure Harbaugh would have to constrain his playbook.

 

For more discussion on the Josh Morgan injury, Niners Nation is where you want to go.

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49ers Defense Shuts Down Josh Freeman, Alex Smith & Frank Gore Efficient In 48-3 Rout

The San Francisco 49ers are on a roll. They broke apart the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with relative ease, dominating on both sides of the ball and tying for the most lopsided result of the season.

Alex Smith didn't have to do much on offense, but he was efficient in moving the ball and keeping the ball in the hands of the offense. Smith completed 11 of 19 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions. Frank Gore piled up 125 rushing yards on 20 carries and had a rushing score. Vernon Davis hauled in two of Smith's touchdown throws, and Delanie Walker started off the scoring with a 26 yard scamper. Josh Morgan had five catches for 75 yards before leaving with an ankle injury.

The 49ers defense was the key to victory. LeGarrette Blount was held to 34 yards on ten carries and only 86 rushing yards overall (3.7 yards per carry). Aldon Smith (with two) and Justin Smith (with one) compiled three sacks on the afternoon. San Francisco forced three turnovers that they turned into 21 Niner points;  Chris Culliver had an interception, Carlos Rogers had a pick six, and Patrick Willis recovered one fumble.  Tarell Brown deflected three passes,  Culliver deflected two more, and Reggie Smith and Willis had one each.

To discuss the result with San Francisco fans, go to Niners Nation.

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Josh Morgan Injury: 49ers WR Hurts Ankle vs. Buccaneers

The San Francisco 49ers were fully in control against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, up 41-3 in the fourth quarter. It looked like they were trying to give their second unit starters some important reps as Colin Kaepernick and Kendall Hunter got a lot of significant snaps.

Deep in Tampa Bay territory, Jim Harbaugh decided to keep the offense on the field on 4th and 2 and try and pick up another first down. Kaepernick showed great touch with a nice back shoulder fade that hit wide receiver Josh Morgan right on the numbers. Morgan then tried to get into the end zone, but then was tackled awkwardly when he was wedged between two Bucs defenders. Morgan had to be helped off the field by three or four Niners (including teammate Vernon Davis).

Early indications are that Morgan suffered an injury to the ankle as he was putting no weight on it. It remains to be seen whether Morgan broke the ankle, sprained it, or suffered something else of that light. Stay tuned for more details.

To discuss the Morgan injury with 49ers fans, best for you to head over to Niners Nation and revel in victory.

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49ers vs. Buccaneers Score Update: Alex Smith, 49ers Add To Lead, Winning 41-3 In Fourth

San Francisco deferred to start the game, so the Buccaneers kick off to start the half and it goes out the back of the endzone. Frank Gore takes the first carry, and picks up fourteen yards to the right side. Then another run, and a short pass brings them to third down, where Alex Smith breaks to run, but stops to hit Vernon Davis for the first down. Unfortunately, Mike Iupati is called for holding and the 49ers get 3rd-and-14. Of course, Michael Crabtree gets exactly fifteen yards on the next play, so that's good. Then an illegal contact penalty gives them five yards and another first down. Josh Morgan and Michael Crabtree are out on Smith's left, and he hits Morgan on a screen, who ends up getting 24-yards and another first down. Then it's Vernon Davis over the middle, he catches it and bulldozes his way into the endzone, and the 49ers go up 31-3 after the extra point.

The Buccaneers start it off with a 12-yard reception to Kellen Winslow. Then head coach Raheem Morris is called for unsportsmanlike conduct, while shouting at the referee, who was trying to watch the next play. The Bucs get another reception to Winslow, this one for 13-yards, and then LeGarrete Blount gets a nice little underneath pass from Freeman, who threatened to tuck and run it and pulled Ahmad Brooks off of Blount. That play ends up going for 27 yards. They get eight yards on the next first down, and then are set up with a 3rd-and-2 after Patrick Willis prevents a reception that might have been dead from the beginning. The Bucs go for the pass on third-and-short, but the 49ers get in the way of it and now Tampa Bay is going for it on fourth down. It's incomplete, and the 49ers take over.

 Frank Gore gets a big run, for nineteen yards. Then after a false start penalty, he's good for eighteen more on another run, passing the 100-yard mark.  Kendall Hunter takes a toss outside and gets another first down, setting San Francisco up at the 16-yard line. The Buccaneers call a timeout. San Francisco gets another first down when the Buccaneers were called for unnecessary roughness. But the 49ers end up with a 3rd-and-10. Smith throws it right to a defender, Michael Crabtree didn't turn when he expected, but the ball is dropped. It's a 28-yard field goal by David Akers though, giving the 49ers a 34-3 lead.

The Buccaneers complete a pass over the middle to Mike Williams, who is absolutely crushed by Dashon Goldson. After securing the catch, the ball pops loose, and the 49ers recover. They take over at the 36-yard line. A few plays later and Akers is lining up for, and makes a 46-yard field goal, but leverage is called and Jim Harbaugh takes points off the board. Then Alex Smith hits Vernon Davis in the back of the endzone for a touchdown and the 49ers take an even bigger lead. It's a 14-yard touchdown reception, and Akers makes it 41-3 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

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49ers vs. Buccaneers Score Update: Carlos Rogers Pick Six, Gerald McCoy Return Questionable as SF Leads 24-3

After the 49ers turnover, the Buccaneers take over and get a two-yard run, they start the second quarter at 2nd-and-8 on the 13-yard line. Josh Freeman is drilled and fires deep, but cornerback Carlos Rogers gets in front of it, picks it off, cuts across the field and takes it all the way back for a touchdown. The David Akers extra point makes it 14-3 and the fumble doesn't look so bad after all.

Tampa Bay gets the ball and ends up with a third down, but a 17-yard pass from Freeman to Kellen Winslow converts. A sixteen-yard reception to Arrelious Benn followed, taking the Bucs across the 50-yard line. Patrick Willis stops a potential big gain on first down, wrapping up Blount after four yards on the toss outside. Then it's Chris Culliver, picking off Freeman on a pass intended for former 49er Micheal Spurlock, and the 49ers get set to drive again.

Twelve yards to Joshua Morgan to start the drive, followed by a six-yard run from Frank Gore. The reception to Morgan was at the sidelines, and it was a great catch. Then it's Gore again on 2nd-and-4, he finds a hole on the left side and gets a big gain. Alex Smith goes deep to Vernon Davis in the endzone on first down and Dekoda Watson is called for pass interference. The 49ers set up on 1st-and-goal at the one-yard line. Gore is stuffed to start, and the 49ers line up showing another run. This time, Gore makes it in from two-yard and a Davis Akers extra point makes it 21-3. It made sense to run the ball with Gerald McCoy out with an injury.

Tampa Bay gets set at the 13-yard line, and two plays later have a 3rd-and-8. Freeman throws to the right sideline, but it's out of bounds and they have to punt. If you blinked, you missed it. 

Gore gets the carry with just over six minutes to go, and gets six yards. Then he takes it up the left side and bounces out, evading a tackle and ending up with a very solid 21 yards. Then the 49ers run into a wall, and David Akers is called on to kick a 37-yard field goal. It's good, and the 49ers lead 24-3.

Tarell Brown gets in front of another pass and tips it away, but can't secure the interception on a deep pass from Freeman to kick off the Buccaneers' drive. An incompletion and a sack from Aldon Smith seals another three-and-out for Tampa Bay. Ted Ginn comes one broken tackle short of breaking a big one, but has a respectable 29-yard return and the 49ers set up shop at the TB 45-yard line.

The 49ers can't get anything done on this drive though, throwing two incompletions and getting only two yards from Frank Gore. Andy Lee comes on to punt, and hangs it up there good. The Buccaneers have to call a fair catch with the ball back on the five-yard line, it's a 38-yard punt.

And, naturally, the drive goes nowhere. They pick up a first down through the air, but the 49ers eventually get the ball back. There's two penalties on the kick return that should have went for 50+ yards, and they're offsetting. The referees clearly say "offsetting", but place it at the "end of the kick", which is odd. The 49ers get the ball way back and just let the clock run out to end the half. They lead 24-3, and will receive  for the second half.

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49ers vs. Buccaneers Score Update: Alex Smith, Delanie Walker Hook Up, 49ers Lead 7-3

The 49ers won the toss and deferred to the second half, as they have all four times they've won the toss this season. The Buccaneers come out and get a couple yards on a reception to LeGarrette Blount, and then six yards on a rush from him. They're set up with a 3rd-and-2, and get the first, but are called for illegal motion and take a five-yard penalty. Then Josh Freeman throws an incompletion and the Bucs have to punt. Ted Ginn takes it to the 50-yard-line and has a 22-yard return.

Alex Smith gets good protection on the first play of the drive, going through his reads and then going underneath to Frank Gore for five yards. Then an encroachment penalty gives the 49ers a first-down. San Francisco calls a timeout, like they usually do in the beginning of a game, and it's a two-yard run to Frank Gore. Then a big reception underneath to Gore again, and on first down, the 49ers go for the pass from the 26-yard line. Delanie Walker goes up the seam and Smith drops a pass into him beautifully. After a David Akers extra point, it's 7-0. Four plays, 50 yards.

Tampa Bay starts off with an incompletion, but then get a big chunk, 33 yards after a missed tackle by the 49ers. They get to a 3rd-and-1 after Tarell Brown falls just short of getting the interception deep in the endzone. Freeman takes the QB sneak and gets the first down and another yard. It's Blount again on first down, but he only gets one. The Buccaneers keep it going though, and a series of short passes later, they're set up at the 25-yard line. And then after another pass, they're on the 12-yard line with another first down. Fortunately, the 49ers defense comes up finally, and makes the stop, limiting the Buccaneers to a field goal.

With 7-3 the score and 3:53 remaining in the first quarter, the 49ers get the ball back, at the 25-yard line, following a Kendall Hunter return. To start things off, it's a 21-yard reception to Michael Crabtree, and then a 24-yard from wide receiver Ted Ginn, who makes about six cuts on the run and makes several people look stupid on the way. After a failed toss to Frank Gore, a slant to receiver Joshua Morgan goes for 14 yards. The 49ers look good, but Gore hits his own guy and fumbles the ball, and the Buccaneers recover it on the 11-yard line.  The quarter comes to an end.

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49ers vs. Buccaneers Gameday Inactives: Isaac Sopoaga Out

The 49ers are getting set to host the Buccaneers, and the gameday inactives have been announces. Of significance for the 49ers is nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga, who most figured would be out after a staph infection. In his place, Ricky Jean Francois will get the start and Ian Williams will be active for the first time, immediately backing him up. Also, with Will Tukuafu going to injured reserve, the 49ers have activated DE DeMarcus Dobbs, plus safety Colin Jones, who just was pushed up to the roster from the practice squad with Tukuafu's injury. Bruce Miller gets the start again at fullback.

There's not much of significance for the Buccaneers, who see Aquib Talib healthy and not much else of significance. Dakoda Watson will make the start in place of Quincy Black. The full list of inactives is below:

49ers Inactives

QB Scott Tolzien
WR Braylon Edwards
CB Tramaine Brock
FB Moran Norris
OG Daniel Kilgore
OT Mike Person
NT Isaac Sopoaga

Buccaneers Inactives

WR Sammie Stroughter
S Devin Holland
LB Zac Diles
LB Quincy Black
OT James Lee
OG Derek Hardman
TE Luke Stocker

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49ers Vs. Buccaneers: Game Time, TV Schedule, Radio Streaming And More

It's fleet week in San Francisco, which is always a great time.The 49ers will play host to a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers team, and will hopefully leave them in no mood to enjoy the festivities.

The 49ers are attempting to start a season at 4-1 for the first time in nine years. They're also hoping to greatly improve on the last time the Bucs visited Candlestick Park, as they were shut out by Tampa Bay 22-0 in that game. The 49ers are slight favorites in this game, but it's almost certain to be a dogfight.

 

Kickoff: 1:05 PM PDT/4:05 PM EST

Weather: A brisk 67 degrees at kickoff.

TV: Fox ( ). Commentators: Kenny Albert (Play-by-Play), Daryl Johnston (Color Analyst), Tony Siragusa (Sideline Reporter).

Radio: The Bone 107.7 - KNBR 680/1050 AM. Commentators: Ted Robinson (Play-by-Play), Eric Davis (Color Analyst), Rod Brooks (Sideline Reporter).

Betting Line: The 49ers are 2.5-point favorites.

Online Coverage: Your SB Nation home for the 49ers, as always, remains Niners Nation. To keep your finger on the pulse of the average Buccaneers fan, you can head over to Bucs Nation. All sorts of Nations represented in this game!

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49ers Vs Buccaneers Injury Report: Michael Crabtree, Frank Gore, Mike Iupati Probable; Braylon Edwards Out

The 49ers are coming off a huge road victory against the Philadelphia Eagles and are looking to avoid a letdown, but must do so without a few key players. Tramaine Brock, Braylon Edwards, and Moran Norris have been declared out and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga is doubtful with a recently disclosed staph infection. Ricky Jean Francois will likely make the start in place of Sopoaga.

Here are the official injury reports for both teams.

San Francisco 49ers Status Report:

OUT - CB Tramaine Brock (hand), WR Braylon Edwards (knee), RB Moran Norris (fibula)

DOUBTFUL - DT Isaac Sopoaga (infection)

QUESTIONABLE - CB Shawntae Spencer (toe)

PROBABLE - WR Michael Crabtree (foot), RB Frank Gore (ankle), G Mike Iupati (neck), G Adam Snyder (hamstring)

Friday Practice Report:

Did not participate: Isaac Sopoaga, Braylong Edwards, Moran Norris, Tramaine Brock
Limited participation: Michael Crabtree, Frank Gore, Shawntae Spencer
Full participation: Mike Iupati, Adam Snyder

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers Status Report:

OUT - S Devin Holland (back), T James Lee (knee), TE Luke Stocker (knee), WR Sammie Stroughter (foot)

DOUBTFUL - LB Zach Diles (hamstring)

QUESTIONABLE - LB Quincy Black (ankle)

PROBABLE - DE Michael Bennett (groin), DE Tim Crowder (knee), RB Earnest Graham (hamstring), TE Zack Pianalto (calf), CB Aqib Talib (knee)

For more on the 49ers, Niners Nation is the place to check out.

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49ers vs. Buccaneers Injury Report: Michael Crabtree And Frank Gore Remain Limited, Aqib Talib May Miss Game

After a big week four for the San Francisco 49ers, head coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff have seen their team get healthier as the week progressed. Despite a few key players being limited in practice on Thursday, players such as Michael Crabtree and Frank Gore are expected to play this Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Here is the injury report for both teams:

49ers:

Did Not Practice, Out For Sunday:

CB Tramaine Brock (hand), WR Braylon Edwards (knee), RB Moran Norris (fibula)

Did Not Practice:

DT Isaac Sopoaga (infection), CB Shawntae Spencer (toe)

Limited Participation In Practice:

WR Michael Crabtree (feet), RB Frank Gore (ankle), G Mike Iupati (neck), G Adam Snyder (hamstring)

Buccaneers:

Did Not Participate:

LB Quincy Black (ankle), LB Zach Diles (hamstring), S Devin Holland (back), T James Lee (knee), TE Luke Stocker (knee), WR Sammie Stroughter (foot), CB Aqib Talib (knee), TE Kellen Winslow (not injury related)

Limited Participation In Practice:

RB Earnest Graham (hamstring)

Full Participation In Practice:

DE Tim Crowder (knee), TE Zack Pianalto (calf)

[...]

As for something to watch for in week five, DT Isaac Sopoaga will likely miss the game with a staph infection. Third year tackle Ricky Jean Francois will be making the first start of his career.

On Tampa Bay's side, the injury reports are indicating cornerback Aquib Talib is probably going to miss the game this weekend. This would be a big advantage for the 49ers and Michael Crabtree -- assuming he plays, of course -- could be in for a big game if Talib is out.

For more on the 49ers, Niners Nation is the place to check out.

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49ers' Ian Williams, DeMarcus Dobbs Will Battle For Playing Time On Sunday

With Isaac Sopoaga likely out on Sunday due to a staph infection, the 49ers are likely to have Ricky Jean Francois starting in the middle of the line at the nose tackle position. Jean Francois was a seventh-round pick in 2009, and is, right now, more famous for his "Peanut Butter Jelly Dance" than his play, but fans have felt good about his potential, as reports came out of camp about his readiness and willingness to play the nose tackle position. It'll be a period of evaluation for Jean Francois, but there will also be a battle waging just behind him, at other backup spots on the defensive line.

While DeMarcus Dobbs and Ian Williams aren't battling eachother for a spot on the depth chart, as one plays defensive end and the other plays nose tackle. But they are definitely both looking to make an impression, as neither have been active all season. Now with Will Tukuafu heading to injured reserve on top of the Sopoaga staph infection, it's likely that both of them will be active, and both looking to make an impression on the 49ers at their respective positions.

Dobbs is an undrafted free agent who made waves in the preseason, and it's not likely he'll get as much playing time as Williams, who is also an undrafted free agent. Dobbs will be worked in whenever RayMcDonald needs to take a breather and Williams will see the field when Jean Francois has to come off for a breather, or in the event that Jean Francois is getting mauled on the field on every play.

When it comes to Williams, being undrafted doesn't mean quite as much as you might think. Nose tackles are seriously undervalued in the NFL draft, and this class was given high marks as being a particularly strong one, yet only a handful of players actually were drafted for the position, while a slew of guys considered to have strong upside at the position went undrafted. Williams is a guy with a lot of potential for the position, and if he can get some seasoning early on in his career, it could help immensely.

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Issac Sopoaga's Absence Significant For 49ers Strong Rush Defense

The 49ers haven't been the luckiest team when it comes to injuries in 2011, but they're not the worst off, either. Starting wide receiver and big free agent acquisition, Braylon Edwards, has missed the last two games and is going to miss even more, he's already been ruled out against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So has fullback Moran Norris, meaning Bruce Miller will have to take his spot again. But these are all things we knew coming into this week ... the 49ers had always been preparing to be without these guys against Tampa Bay.

Now they might be without another guy, judging by the injury report. Defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga didn't practice, and may have a staph infection. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says as much, claiming that Sopoaga has already been ruled out for Sunday's game at Candlestick Park. It's a big deal for the 49ers, who have enjoyed strong defensive line play for the season.

Sopoaga's 2010 season at left defensive end is what gave the 49ers a lot of confidence in him, and so far he'd lent himself to the team's fourth-ranked rushing defensive in a big way. Unlike his first few seasons in the NFL, Sopoaga has been playing strong and hard-nosed football, and his absence will be a big hit. On the plus side, it's a chance to see more of Ricky Jean Francois, a player who fans feel good about as a potential future starter. Sopoaga's absence also likely means that Ian Williams will be active and backing up Jean Francois, and with Will Tukuafu going to injured reserve, it could also mean that DeMarcus Dobbs is activated to get some playing time on the defensive line as well.

Michael Crabtree, Frank Gore, Mike Iupati and Adam Snyder were also limited, though they're all expected to play. Crabtree and Gore both had nagging injuries and it's best to just go slow with them - especially Gore, who doesn't need all of the practice time that others might need. The 49ers really need to make sure Iupati doesn't hurt his neck again, considering he's the team's best offensive lineman by far. And with Edwards out, they seriously need Crabtree to not aggravate the injury in his foot.

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49ers Vs. Buccaneers Injury Report: Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree Limited On Wednesday

The San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are two of the hottest teams in the league right now as both sport 3-1 records and wins over solid competition heading into Sunday's match-up. Days before the game, both squads are dealing with injuries and have players who were either limited or out during Wednesday's practice.

Wide receiver Michael Crabtree, running back Frank Gore, guard Mike Lupati and guard Adam Snyder were all limited on Wednesday. Crabtree and Gore, two important cogs in the 49ers offense, have been dealing with injuries for the past few weeks and are likely just getting some rest in preparation for Sunday. Both players should be on the field against the Bucs.

Defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga and cornerback Shawtae Spencer did not practice on Wednesday but have not been ruled out for the game. Meanwhile, cornerback Tramaine Brock, wide receiver Braylon Edwards, and running back Moran Norris did not practice and will be out come Sunday.

 Edwards in particular has been dealing with a knee issue that has affected him since his arrival in San Francisco, but the 49ers offense fared well enough without him last week with 278 yards through the air. The team will continue to look for production at the other wide receiver spots.

The Buccaneers were without defensive tackle Tim Crowder, linebacker Zach Diles, tackle James Lee, tight end Luke Stocker and wide receiver Sammie Strougher on Wednesday. Safety Devin Holland and tight end Zach Pianalto were limited.

Both teams should be at or near full strength come Sunday. A few important players, such as Crabtree and Gore, are resting this week but should be in the line-up come Sunday.

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49ers Vs. Buccaneers: Jim Harbaugh To Reunite With ‘Beloved Son’ Josh Johnson

Back in the day, current San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh coached at the University of San Diego and developed a strong bond with his quarterback, Josh Johnson. From 2004 to 2006, the duo pieced together a program that went 29-6 and won back-to-back Pioneer League Championships. Both have gone their separate ways since that time, but the two will face off against each other this Sunday when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit the 49ers.

Harbaugh certainly remembers the strong relationship tha the two shared and even refers to Johnson as his "beloved son," according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. Johnson, likewise, speaks fondly of his former coach as he continues to make his journey in the NFL.

The two will be on opposite sides of the field on Sunday, but that could change in the future. The 49ers have been plagued at the quarterback position for years, though Alex Smith has led San Francisco to an impressive 3-1 season so far this season. Johnson is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this year and could potentially find his way to the 49ers.

The move would allow two minds that know each other very well to reconnect, which in turn could reap huge benefits on the field and in the huddle. Before we get too ahead of ourselves, though, we must acknowledge that a huge determinant in this will be how the 49ers fare this year and how quarterbacks Smith and Colin Kaepernick develop.

For now, it's a long shot. But the Harbaugh-Johnson dynamic provides another interesting sub-plot to an already interesting match-up of 3-1 teams.

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49ers vs. Bucs Odds: Opening Line Gives San Francisco Narrow Edge

The San Francisco 49ers know that they're not exactly the strongest 3-1 team--beating Seattle doesn't mean much, the Cincinnati game was tough to watch, and Philadelphia clearly looks like a flawed team. Nonetheless, they're 3-1,, so things have to be looking up. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a similar position; they have a decent win over Atlanta, but they also have wins against 0-4 Minnesota and 0-4 Indianapolis. Far from the ideal resume to pump people up.

It's why the 49ers being 2.5 point favorites over the Bucs makes perfect sense. Neither team really is all that much different from the other. Even if Tampa is travelling cross-country for this one, Candlestick Park hasn't exactly been the most intimidating place to play as of late (outside of the parking lot and in the stadium, that is). 

Harbaugh seems to have San Francisco turned around and getting things going though, so that line might move up a tad as the week goes by and people start hopping on the 49ers bandwagon (like they do every year).

For more discussion on the 49ers, go to Niners Nation. For more talk about the Buccaneers, check out Bucs Nation.

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49ers Make Adam Snyder Starting RG, Will Tukuafu To IR And Colin Jones Promoted

It's official, the 49ers have sent defensive end Will Tukuafu to injured reserve after an injury sustained in Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Tukuafu had played in all four games and had a big fumble recovery (first thought to be an interception) against the Seattle Seahawks in week one. To fill his spot on the roster is rookie Colin Jones, who the team identified as a potential special teams standout in the preseason. 

This could mean more playing time for undrafted rookie DeMarcus Dobbs, who made waves in the preseason and who, in many fans' eyes, has potential to make impact. 

In other news, Examiner's Sam Lam tweeted changes to the 49ers depth chart made today:

Updated 49ers depth chart: Crabtree, Morgan now listed are starting WRs (no surprise). Snyder starting RG. Norris starting FB.
Oct 04 via webFavoriteRetweetReply


No surprise indeed, regarding Michael Crabtree. He had a good game against the Eagles and made a few pretty good catches. What was also important was the rapport he seemed to establish with Alex Smith, when the two didn't connect on a pass, they met and talked it over before resuming play. Moran Norris is listed as the starting fullback, but he's likely to miss more time and Bruce Miller should get the start. No change in the order probably signifies that the team hasn't seen enough from Miller to give him the edge over Norris once the veteran returns from injury.

Adam Snyder as the starting right guard is the most significant note here. Snyder made the start on Sunday against the Eagles and looked good, especially on big runs, and didn't make huge mistakes in pass protection. Chilo Rachal was mixed in a little, but it appears the team is ready to move forward with Snyder, barring any huge mistakes.

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49ers vs. Buccaneers NFL Schedule Preview: Jim Harbaugh Has Team Ready, At The Very Least

The San Francisco 49ers are coming back from a road trip where they went 2-0, and currently lead the NFC West with a 3-1 record. They're feeling good, but face a stiff test in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by quarterback Josh Freeman. For more on the game and the team in general, go to Niners Nation or check out the enemy at SB Nation Tampa Bay and Bucs Nation.

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2011 NFL Standings: 49ers & Raiders In Strong Positions

Both the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders are in good places after the first few weeks in the 2011 NFL standings.

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