The San Francisco 49ers are coming off of a significant win at home against the Seattle Seahawks. Next week they will play their final regular season game at Candlestick Park. In between those two games is a game in Tampa against the Buccaneers. This game can be considered a trap game but Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers have a one game at a time mindset that isn’t likely to allow them to overlook their game this week. There are some things to watch for in this game against the Bucs. Let’s take a closer look at five things to watch for.
1) The Play of The Elite Linebackers
It is no secret that Navorro Bowman and Patrick Willis are two of the best linebackers in the NFL. Bowman has established himself as one of the better cover linebackers as well. Both Willis and Bowman have the ability to cover so much ground. Usually teams are able to use a player’s aggressiveness against them but that is not the case. They are effective blitzing the gaps and are two of the more sure tacklers. These two players are very sound and don’t make many mistakes.
They will need to read their cues when they are going against Bobby Rainey. Donald Penn has said that Rainey is so small that by the time defenders see him, he’s past them. At 5-foot-8, it is hard to find Rainey when he is behind the big offensive linemen.
The Buccaneers have an outstanding linebacker of their own, his name is Lavonte David. David has been a one man wrecking crew. David is another of what seems to be an influx of young, athletic, hard hitting linebackers. He has amassed 116 tackles, six sacks, five interceptions, nine pass break ups, along with a safety and a forced fumble.
David will need to use his athleticism if the Bucs decide to shadow Colin Kaepernick with him. The 49ers like to use angle blocking schemes that will allow one of the pulling offensive lineman to get a block on one of the second level defenders. David will surely be a focal point for the blockers. David will need to be ready to shed blocks and make tackles against Frank Gore and the 49ers rushing offense.
2) Is Darrelle Revis Healthy?
There were once some rumblings that the 49ers were looking to acquire Darrelle Revis. He was coming off of a serious knee injury and looking to do a contract extension. When healthy, Revis is easily considered one of the best corner backs in the NFL. The question remains, is he healthy? I spoke to Ira Kauffman of the Tampa Tribune recently and he said that Revis is finally healthy and looks just as good as he did before. If he is closer to 100% than before, it could be a long day for Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin. Both of these receivers are big guys that like to mix it up against corners. Revis is a player that likes to press receivers at the line of scrimmage so this could have the makings of a fierce battle.
3) How Will Colin Kaepernick Fair Against An Improving Secondary?
Mark Barron, Dashon Goldson, Jonathan Banks and Darrelle Revis are starting to come together as a defense. They are currently ranked 17th in the NFL in pass defense. Revis as mentioned earlier is working his way back from injury. Jonathan Banks is a long, lanky corner that has earned a starting spot as a rookie. Lastly, the safeties Barron and Goldson are two very hard hitting players.
Kaepernick will have his all of his options once again. Crabtree is getting back into the swing of things as he recovers from his injury. We have talked at lengths about how his presence allows the other receivers to fall back into their previous roles. Kaepernick has to figure out how to adjust to teams that try to take away his down field options. One adjustment that can be made is taking what the defense gives him. That can be done by checking down once his reads are taken away. He will also need to be careful with the ball.
4) Dashon Goldson
Dashon Goldson was a major part of the 49ers return to success. He came in with Patrick Willis as a fourth round pick.
The Bucs are picking Dashon Goldson’s brain for any insider 49ers information. Having watched the 49ers offense for so long has helped Goldson to get a better picture of what the offense is looking to do. “They keep teams off balance and don’t show the same stuff every week. With their shifts and motions they try to do a great job of switching it up.”
5) Can Phil Dawson Continue To Hate A Football
Dawson has been able to connect on 20 straight attempts. He had a major role in the 49ers win over the Seahawks. Dawson was named NFC special teams player of the week for his four-field goal performance in a win over the Seahawks. The 49ers have struggled to score touchdowns in the red zone. Having a kicker with the accuracy that Dawson has helped their red zone scoring efficiency. Dawson has also been money from 50 -55 yards.