Postgame Buzz: San Francisco 49ers win season opener 31-17 over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The 49ers won their first season opener since Kyle Shanahan became coach in 2017, beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road, 31-17, giving them their first victory in the Eastern time zone since 2014.
Here are our grades.
Passing offense: C+
Jimmy Garoppolo in the first half completed 13 of 16 for 100 yards and had two touchdown passes to George Kittle negated by penalties. But it was his interception to cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III returned for a touchdown that proved to be the biggest play before the break. But Garoppolo made a strong throw to Richie James for a 39-yard touchdown to begin the third quarter to give San Francisco a 13-7 lead. Garoppolo finished 18 of 27 for 166 yards with a 80.2 rating. He averaged just 6.1 yards per attempt, which is far from ideal, and a product of Shanahan appearing not to have much confidence in his signal caller, particularly after the interception.
Rushing offense: B-
The ground game struggled at the start, amassing 36 yards on 14 carries. Tevin Coleman was ruled out at halftime because of an ankle injury. The 49ers seemed to find some rhythm once they went to 22 personnel (two running backs and two tight ends) in the second half as they tried to salt the game away. They finished with 30 carries for 100 yards as the Buccaneers defenses loaded up the box throughout. Raheem Mostert led the way with 40 yards on nine carries and helped seal it in the fourth quarter. Coleman’s injury will be one to watch. Breida momentarily left the game in the first half because of a hydration issue.
Passing defense: A+
The 49ers had four takeaways on passing plays, including two pick-sixes from cornerbacks Richard Sherman in the third quarter and Ahkello Witherspoon to salt the game away. Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and Dee Ford finished with sacks while the coverage was generally tight throughout. Winston finished with 194 yards while completing 56 percent of his throws. San Francisco’s defense scored more points (14) than it allowed (10) points. And it eclipsed its minuscule interception total from all of 2018 (two) early in the third quarter with Sherman’s pick.
Rushing defense: C
Tampa had just 34 yards rushing in the first half and then began gashing San Francisco with runs up the middle in the second, finishing with 121 yards while averaging a 4.7-yard clip. The 49ers weren’t the same against the run without Alexander than they were earlier in the game, though perhaps the 90-degree heat and humidity took it’s tole as the game wore on. Look for the run defense to be an emphasis going into next week.
Special teams: B+
The 49ers opened the game with a blocked punt from special teams ace Mark Nzeocha that set up the opening field goal from 29 yards. Emmanuel Moseley made a good tackle as a gunner on punt coverage following a 54-yard punt from Mitch Wishnowsky. Gould would later miss a deep kick from 57 yards, but made three two. His miss was on target, just a few inches short, banging off the cross bar. More of the issue was the decision to kick it.
Shanahan seemed eager make things easy on Garoppolo by dialing up bubble screens and short throws rather than try for explosive gains downfield. The 49ers also had three touchdowns negated by penalties, including two in a three-play span in the second quarter. Shanahan’s decision to kick the long field goal could have proved costly, particularly after the 49ers failed to come away with points inside field goal range at the end of the first half due to Deebo Samuel’s fumble. San Francisco was called for 11 penalties for 87 yards. Otherwise, Shanahan has to feel happy about the way coordinator Robert Saleh’s defense played.