The first step of the campaign for the playoffs was executed perfectly by the San Francisco 49ers with a 31-17 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 49ers went on the road to the east coast in the scorching heat to spoil Bruce Arians return to the sidelines.
Jameis Winston looked horrible and that's due to the phenomenal play of the 49ers defense. This win snapped an eight game road losing streak for the 49ers dating back to last season. With so much to takeaway from this game, I was able to cut it to five.
Here are my five takeaways from the San Francisco 49ers 31-17 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
49ers have to clean up sloppy penalties
The amount of penalties that the 49ers registered on both sides of the ball was ridiculous. Offensively the 49ers had multiple touchdown scoring plays erased due to a penalty. That’s something that needs to get cleaned immediately if the 49ers want to be successful in the long term. It all comes down to discipline.
Not all penalties are a referee’s mistake as much as we’d like to think so. These penalties can be drive killers in future games or take points off the board like how we saw in this game. San Francisco should’ve been leading by so much more if mental errors were not committed. As of now, the 49ers were fortunate because the Buccaneers did not play that good.
Next week against the Cincinnati Bengals, however, will prove differently. The Bengals looks strong against the Seattle Seahawks on the road. The 49ers do not want a repeat of undisciplined errors against the Bengals because they will actually make them pay unlike the Buccaneers.
Secondary is better than advertised
It is well noted of the dumpster fire that was the San Francisco 49ers secondary in 2018. Only two interceptions were recorded on that entire defense, with seven turnovers overall. The 49ers exceeded that interception total in this game alone with two pick sixes by Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver group is a talent bunch, but the 49ers secondary rendered them useless.
The honorable mention is well deservedly Ahkello Witherspoon with his coverage of Mike Evans. Initially, Evans was poised to have a field day against him, but it was Witherspoon who had his way. Evans only had one catch for 16 yards until the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Who could’ve saw that coming? This is a great sign in the development and maturation of Witherspoon. Imagine if Witherspoon truly is a legitimate talent.
He needs to do it over at least few more games, but this secondary is looking exponentially better. Jason Verrett was inactive for this game, but he can be the x-factor to make this secondary elite if healthy. The 49ers just may be in a good spot with this secondary after all of the questions entering the season. Let’s see if they can put up a strong performance in week two.
Fred Warner looks like a Pro Bowler
From the moment Kwon Alexander was ejected for targeting on Jameis Winston, the pressure fell on Fred Warner to raise his game. Boy did he not disappoint. Warner looked like an absolute stud from beginning to end. He wasn’t just looking to create stops, he was trying to strip the ball on almost every tackle. Warner hit pay dirt when he managed to force a fumble.
The Buccaneers got off easy with Alexander’s ejection because the 49ers defense would’ve shut down their running game. Warner has taken the strides to become a play-maker. It’s amazing how great of a position the 49ers are in with their linebackers. It would not shock me the least to see Fred Warner make the playoffs. Alexander and Warner are going to be one of the best linebacker duos in this league.
Jimmy Garoppolo inaccuracy issues
On the simplest of throws, Jimmy Garoppolo could not hit his target. He either threw it behind or threw it too high for his receiver. This went on for the entirety of the game and likely explains why Kyle Shanahan was dialing up short plays. He didn’t trust Garoppolo to go deep or making a timely throw. After seeing his awful pick six intended for Tevin Coleman, it makes a little sense as to the lack of trust.
So many of Garoppolo’s passes that he completed came fairly quickly after the snap. This is what the 49ers wanted to avoid with Garoppolo in this game. It’s why they played him in two preseason games as opposed to holding him out. It is just one game that he looked off, but it is something to be a bit concerned about. Hitting simple throws, especially coming off play action is a staple in Shanahan’s offense. If Garoppolo continues his inaccuracies, the 49ers will not be able to string up consistent drives.
Dante Pettis in the dog house?
The panic that ensued to the lack of positive reports about Dante Pettis throughout training camp and preseason is looking to hold some weight. Pettis was a non-factor in this and hardly saw the field. It’s hard not to think that he isn’t in the doghouse for underperforming. His lack of snaps is a perfect example as to why we should never read anything into the depth chart releases.
Pettis was supposed to take a leap this season, but how can he do so if he doesn’t see the field? That just shows us what Kyle Shanahan thinks of him. He’s not a player worth rolling out constantly, especially when they have veteran Marquise Goodwin and rookie Deebo Samuel. Richie Jame Jr. is in a much better position than Pettis. Barring any injuries to a reciever, Pettis’ new role may be just as a rotational player. We’ll learn more when the 49ers take on the Cincinnati Bengals.