Football is officially back! The regular season is finally here after being teased the last four weeks with the preseason and training camp prior. Week one is the San Francisco 49ers first step towards achieving their goal of a playoff berth. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be playing host in what is expected to be a scorching game temperature wise.
Bruce Arians is the new head man in charge for the Buccaneers after a year long hiatus in the commentator booth. Arians has familiarity with the 49ers since he was the Arizona Cardinals head coach two years ago, which was Kyle Shanahan's first season as head coach. The Buccaneers should prove a worthy opponent under Arians, so it won't be an easy win for the 49ers.
With that said, here are three keys to victory in week one versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Pressuring Jameis Winston
Some of the quarterbacks in this league know how to handle pressure from a defense. They remain composed enough to deliver the football and make the right decision. However, with Jameis Winston he is not regarded as a composed quarterback. If there is pressure coming at him, he will panic. A good portion of his interceptions are a result of pressure in his. The 49ers pass rush has to get to Winston often and quickly once the ball is snapped.
Not just to force him into errors, but so that he doesn’t have time to find Mike Evans. The secondary of the 49ers is still lacking. They do not have anyone who can slow down Evans. Not to mention the other talents like Chris Godwin and OJ Howard who can easily produce solid numbers. Tampa Bay’s arsenal of receivers is a terrible matchup for the 49ers secondary. It’s going to be on the pass rushers like Dee Ford, Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner and company that lead the defense to victory.
Keep Winston in the pocket
Generating pressure on Jameis Winston is great and all, but it will be for nothing if they do not keep him in the pocket. Containing Winston has to be in the minds of the pass rushers because he can use his legs and break off a huge gain. He definitely has the athleticism to do so and maybe even break a tackle. The edge rushers of the 49ers must also not get carried away and go too far up field.
That can create an easy lane up the middle of the defensive line for Winston to run. His ability to tuck the ball and take off is a threat, but it isn’t the main reason why they need to contain him. If Winston is allowed to scramble to the sideline, his receivers can break off their routes and be hit for a big play. Once again, this is a lacking secondary for the 49ers.
They do not have the sufficient coverage skills for adjusting to the scramble drill. Getting to Winston quickly and keeping him contained in the pocket are the first two steps that they need to take. It’ll limit the Buccaneers offense and make it an easy day for the 49ers defense. They do not want to be on the field for too long given the expected high temperatures around 90 degrees at kickoff.
Dominate time of possession
The scorching heat for tomorrow’s game is the exact reason why the 49ers need to dominate the time of possession. It’ll wear out the Buccaneer’s defense, making it a smooth sail to score. Just imagine an exhausted linebacker on the Buccaneers about to lineup for the 8th play of the drive. Knowing he has to guard either Tevin Coleman or Matt Breida on a potential breaking route. It’s going to be easy for Jimmy Garoppolo to pick them apart.
Shanahan will also be in his hear to point out where the tired out players are. Controlling the time of possession also allows the 49ers defense a longer rest period. The Buccaneers are sure to be thinking about using the climate against the 49ers, especially since they’re not used to it on a daily basis. However, just because the Buccaneers are used to it, doesn’t mean they’ll be able to perform well enough on a long drive. Dominating the time of possession should be a priority for the 49ers offense.