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Week 12 Game Recap: San Francisco 49ers 9, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27


What you need to know

San Francisco 49ers

Besides Matt Breida's handful of explosive runs and Dante Pettis' intermittent displays of route-running prowess, this was an all-around performance to forget. The hole began with Tampa Bay's smart defensive game plan, which focused on rushing the passer and playing man-to-man coverage behind it, paying special attention to George Kittle. The 49ers dug he hole deeper due to their offensive line not blocking said pass rush, and their receivers not being able to consistently beat said coverage. The hole became a grave when, rather than getting back into the game, they self-imploded in the second half.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jameis Winston had his most efficient day of the year, avoiding turnovers and throwing touchdowns to Brate and Humphries. The Bucs missed OJ Howard, who was placed on injured reserve with foot and ankle injuries following last week's game. Desean Jackson did not miss time in week 12, but is scheduled to see a specialist this week after aggravating a hand injury that occurred in week 11. Tackle Demar Dotson left in the 2nd quarter with some sort of leg injury and did not return. Ryan Smith made a leaping interception of Nick Mullens in the 4th quarter, then Isaiah Johnson picked him off on a deflected pass in the last minute of the game. New kicker Cairo Saintos was 3 for 3 on extra points and 2 for 2 on field goals.

San Francisco 49ers

QB Nick Mullens, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 32 - 221 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - -1 - 0
As bad as Mullens' stat line looks in the box score, it's hard to pin all -- or even most -- of the blame on him. Both of San Francisco's top two wide receivers were out. Continuing a season-long trend, their pass catchers had a hard time getting open against man coverage. Perhaps most adversely, the 49ers offensive line played one of their worst games in pass protection this season, which resulted in Mullens being pressured (i.e., sacks plus hits plus hurries) on over half of his dropbacks (19 of 36). All of that said, Mullens threw more than a handful of errant passes, primarily due to getting rid of the ball too late with respect to the timing of the route. It's also worth noting for fantasy purposes that he had such poor production in fourth-quarter garbage time, throwing for 90 yards and 2 interceptions, the first of which was an awful play on his part. Not only did he committing the cardinal sin of throwing late, across his body, over the middle. But it was also a throw into double coverage with San Francisco about to score three or seven much-needed points.

RB Matt Breida, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 106 - 0, Rec: 3 - 34 - 0 (4 targets)
Not good for fantasy football was Breida ceding almost of garbage time to backup du jour, Jeff Wilson. And there was a lot of garbage time in this one! Good for fantasy football was pretty much everything else. Despite (still) nursing an ankle injury, Breida used his seemingly indestructible legs to once again show a level of agility and explosiveness he shouldn't be able to muster at the moment. On his first long run, which came on San Francisco's first play, Breida made an impromptu cutback at the line of scrimmage to turn no gain into 33 yards. On his second long run (21 yards), he followed the lead blocks of Kyle Juszczyk and a pulling Mike McGlinchey on a toss sweep, then accelerated through the hole and avoided two tackles at the second level of the defense. Breida's fantasy day could have been even more productive if not for a 1-yard touchdown that was not awarded and was not reviewed despite it looking for all the world like the ball broke the plain of the goal line.

RB Jeff Wilson, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 33 - 0, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (1 targets)
Wilson got such an inordinate amount of playing time because a) Alfred Morris was inactive, and b) the 49ers put Matt Breida in bubble wrap once they were down 27-9 midway through the fourth quarter. That said, Wilson did see 16 snaps prior to said bubble-wrapping, with the "highlight" being a 9-yard touchdown run that ended up not being a touchdown at all, as the ball was a half-yard short of the goal line when his knee hit the ground.

WR Dante Pettis, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 77 - 1 (7 targets)
Predictably given he replaced Marquise Goodwin, Pettis was San Francisco's primary downfield wide receiver, as evidenced by his team-leading 15.0 average depth of target. The shortest of his four receptions went for 13 yards and a touchdown. On the play, he used an outside fake at the line of scrimmage to leave cornerback Carlton Davis in the dust on a quick slant route. from there, he was wide open for a walk-in score because Tampa Bay was playing man-to-man across the field and their single-high free safety was too far from the catch point to make a play. Elsewhere, his two catches of 20-plus yards came on crisply executed deep routes in the middle of the field against off-man coverage.

WR Richie James, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 27 - 0 (2 targets)
James outsnapped an active Trent Taylor 31 to 9 on offense and 11 to 1 on special teams, so it appears San Francisco has finally decided to pull the trigger on inserting James as their primary slot receiver and return man for the rest of the season. The problem is that the 49ers didn't start featuring three wide receivers until they were down multiple scores in the second half. To wit, James didn't see his first target until the fourth quarter, and that was a bubble screen on 3rd-and-26 with the nearest cornerback literally lined up 15 yards off the line of scrimmage.

WR Kendrick Bourne, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 27 - 0 (3 targets)
Bourne was targeted on the 49ers' third offensive play ... and then wasn't heard from again until midway through the third quarter ... and then wasn't heard from again until midway through the fourth quarter despite Tampa Bay's already-soft pass defense playing even softer. Why? It turns out to have been a combination of a) Bourne predominately running decoy routes to clear out space for other receivers, and b) Nick Mullens getting rid of the ball quickly to someone else before Bourne even finished his route.

TE George Kittle, 60 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 10 - 0, Rec: 6 - 48 - 0 (12 targets)
Kittle's inefficient game despite heavy usage (94% snap share and 12 targets) was due to a combination of factors. First, Nick Mullens made several errant passes when Kittle was wide open, a couple of times because he was hit as he threw the ball. Second, Mullens was late on a couple of throws, both times because Tampa Bay's pass rush got there with the quickness. Third, and most importantly, via the combination of safety Jordan Whitehead and linebacker Adarius Taylor, Tampa Bay's game plan in pass defense seemed to be designed to limit Kittle's yards after the catch. Indeed, after averaging 10.8 YAC on 50 receptions through Week 11, he only averaged 2.5 YAC against the Buccaneers.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

QB Jameis Winston, 73 offensive snaps, Pass: 29 - 38 - 312 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 7 - 24 - 0
Winston turned in one of his most solid performances of the year. Though he wasn't always spectacular, Winston was careful with the football, taking what the defense gave him and not trying to do too much every play. He did not commit any turnovers and only took one sack for an 8 yard loss. Winston's biggest play of the day was an early 1st quarter bomb to Mike Evans down the right sideline that picked up 42 yards. Later in the first, Winston scrambled right on his first touchdown pass to buy time for Cameron Brate, who worked his way open in the back of the end zone. Winston found Adam Humphries for his second touchdown in the 4th quarter. Humphries lined up in the right slot and worked his way open in the middle of the field. Winston scrambled right to buy time and did a great job finding the open Humphries, who had room to run between defenders for a 28 yard touchdown.

Winston picked up a 1st down with a 15 yard scramble in the 2nd quarter. He totaled 24 yards rushing on the day.

RB Peyton Barber, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 47 - 1, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (2 targets)
Barber had a solid game as the Bucs operated with a positive game script for the first time in a while. He carried the ball up the middle for 11 yards in the 1st quarter and picked up 14 yards on his longest carry of the game later in quarter. Barber punched in a touchdown from the 2 yard line in the 3rd quarter, carrying the ball right up the middle of the defense. Winston hit Barber on a check down route in the 1st quarter for a 9 yard gain. Barber caught one more short check down from Winston in the San Francisco red zone in the 3rd quarter, but couldn't find pay dirt on the play.

RB Jacquizz Rodgers, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 31 - 0, Rec: 4 - 31 - 0 (5 targets)
Rodgers had a productive day backing up Peyton Barber throughout the contest. He picked up 31 yards rushing on 5 touches and 31 yards receiving on 5 targets(4 catches). Rodgers burst up the middle of the defense for a 20 yard scamper early in the 4th quarter. Rodgers made a nice catch on a check down pass from a scrambling Winston to convert 3rd and 5 in the 1st quarter. He secured another short check down pass on 3rd and long early in the 2nd quarter. Winston continued to target him with another short out route on the next drive of the 2nd quarter. Rodgers hauled in one final short check down at the end of the 1st half.

WR Adam Humphries, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 54 - 1 (6 targets)
Humphries caught a touchdown from Winston for the second week in a row. He got his day started with a quick comeback route from the left slot on the first drive of the game. Winston hit Humphries on a WR screen in the 1st quarter that picked up just a few yards on 3rd and long. Humphries was quiet until late in the 3rd quarter when he split out wide left and hauled in a WR bubble screen for decent gain. Humphries got wide open for a touchdown at the beginning of the 4th quarter. He lined up in the right slot with two other receivers and worked his way open in the middle of the field as Winston scrambled right to buy time. The San Francisco defense lost track of Humphries, who caught the pass with plenty of room to weave between a few defenders in the secondary for a 28 yard touchdown. Humphries hauled in an out route in the 4th quarter that converted 3rd and 5.

WR Mike Evans, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 116 - 0 (8 targets)
Evans turned in his sixth 100-yard receiving game of the year, hauling in six catches total in week 12. Evans lined up wide right and beat defender Richard Sherman down the sideline for a beautiful 42 yard catch early in the 1st quarter, setting up a touchdown to Cameron Brate shortly after. Evans and Winston converted 3rd and 8 with a deep comeback route later in the 1st. Evans caught a quick curl route to move the chains during the 2 minute drill at the end of the 1st half. Winston scrambled to buy time and found Evans on a deep crossing route for a big gain in the 3rd quarter. Evans tied for a team-high 8 targets with Desean Jackson, who struggled to catch the ball in week 12. Desean Jackson is seeing a hand specialist this week and OJ Howard is already out for the season, so Winston should keep peppering Evans with targets.

WR DeSean Jackson, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 3 - 19 - 0 (8 targets)
Jackson injured his hand in week 11, and apparently exacerbated the injury in week 12's contest. He finished the game, but was mostly ineffective and is seeing a specialist in New York for the injury this week. Jackson was dropped for a minimal gain on his first target of the day, a WR bubble screen at the beginning of the 2nd quarter. He caught another short out route and quickly ran out of bounds to stop the clock at the end of the 1st half. Jackson drew a pass interference penalty on a deep ball that he and Winston couldn't connect on in the 3rd quarter. Jackson had big catch on an out route that converted 3rd down late in the 3rd quarter. Jackson carried a sweep around left end for a 6 yard gain in the 2nd quarter. The Bucs have not issued any updates on Jackson's injury so far this week.

WR Chris Godwin, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 42 - 0 (4 targets)
Godwin had an efficient day, securing all 4 of his targets, but couldn't break any big plays or find the end zone. He hauled in a short out route from Winston at the end of the 1st quarter. The two connected again on a short curl route during the 2 minute offense at the end of the first half. Godwin checked in again late in the 3rd quarter with a nice gain on a skinny post route. He hauled in a swing route from the left slot for 1st down yardage at the end of the quarter.

TE Cameron Brate, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 26 - 1 (4 targets)
Brate caught Winston's first touchdown pass of the day in the 1st quarter. He lined up with his hand in the dirt and worked his way open in the back of the end zone while Winston scrambled to buy time before finding the tight end in the back corner. Winston found Brate up the seam for an 11 yard gain at the end of the 2nd quarter, then again two plays later for a short gain on a curl route. Winston looked for Brate in the end zone at the end of the drive, but the tight end was well covered by multiple defenders.Brate did not have any targets after halftime.

TE Antony Auclair, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (1 targets)
Auclair worked as the second tight end with OJ Howard done for the season. Auclair wasn't involved in the passing game much, drawing just one target in the 3rd quarter, an 8 yard completion on a curl route.