LeGarrette Blount carried 26 times for 82 yards, Ronde Barber tallied his 40th career interception, and the Buccaneer defense stymied Frank Gore and the 49er offense, as the Bucs prevailed 21-0 Sunday at Candlestick Park. It was a day of highlights for the offensive and defensive units, and for several individual players.
The Bucs’ defense was the big story of the day. Gerald McCoy and Roy Miller were very effective inside in clogging the running lanes for Frank Gore, who rushed 12 times for only 23 yards, with a long run of 6 yards. As a result, the 49ers faced continual 2nd/3rd and long situations, and the Buccaneer front 4 was able to pin their ears back and come after Troy Smith. The defense recorded a season-high 6 sacks, nearly doubling their season total. Stylez G. White picked up 1.5 sacks and increased his team-leading total to 4.5. Gerald McCoy, Michael Bennett, Adam Hayward, Alex Magee, and Al Woods also joined the sack party.
The Bucs also managed to win the turnover battle, 2-0. Geno Hayes forced a first-quarter fumble that was recovered by Adam Hayward. Ronde Barber’s 4th quarter interception of Troy Smith put him in elite class, as he became the first player in NFL history with at least 40 interceptions and 25 sacks. The interception was only Smith’s second career interception, but was a bad decision that put the Bucs in position to go ahead by 3 scores in the 4th quarter.
On offense, the Buccaneers, who ranked below the 49ers in both rushing yards per game and rushing yards per game allowed, found considerable success running the football. The 49ers entered the game ranked 10th in the NFL against the run, allowing 100.7 ypg. The Bucs ran for 101 yards in the first half alone and finished with 168 yards on the ground. LeGarrette Blount ground down the 49er defense with 26 carries, while Cadillac Williams carried 7 times for 51 yards. Cadillac seems to be further establishing himself in a 3rd-down role against nickel defensive packages. He found paydirt in the 2nd quarter on a draw play from 6 yards out. On the day, the Buccaneers rushed 42 times compared to 22 passes.
Josh Freeman once again looked calm and composed, going 13/20 for 136 yards and a pair of TDs and a passer rating of 117.9. Perhaps most importantly, he avoided turning over the football and giving the 49er offense a sorely-needed jump start. He completed passes to 7 different receivers, including a 4th-quarter TD to LT Donald Penn on a play-action pass on 3rd and goal from the 1. It’s the fifth game this season that Freeman has thrown for 2 or more TDs.
-The Bucs recorded their first shutout since December 2004 against the Falcons 27-0. It was their first road shutout since September 8, 2003, when they blanked the Eagles 17-0 in the debut of Lincoln Financial Field.
-The Bucs converted on 7 of 14 3rd down attempts.
– The Bucs’ kick coverage team was excellent and kept Ted Ginn, Jr. from giving the Niners’ sputtering offense a much-needed boost. The Niners returned 4 kickoffs for 81 yards – a 20 yard per kick average.
-The Niners failed to get past the Buccaneer 33-yard line and did not attempt a field goal for the game.