Friday, 5 a.m.
There among the redwoods and the sourdough bread, there are universal truths. It is there, in the shadow of the 49ers, that the Tampa Bay Bucs have found out so much about their history.
Twenty-one times, the Bucs have played the 49ers. Seventeen times, the 49ers have won. They won with greatness, like Joe Montana. They won with mediocrity, like Cody Pickett.
Every time, it seemed, was a teaching moment.
It was in San Francisco that the Bucs found out, really, about Trent Dilfer … and about Sam Wyche. Wyche never seemed to have any appreciation at all for Dilfer, nor Dilfer for Wyche. So Dilfer sits through much of his rookie year … until the Bucs get ready to play San Francisco, which happens to have perhaps the best secondary in the NFL.
The results were predictable. Dilfer threw 23 times. He completed seven, not counting the one he threw to San Francisco. He passed for all of 45 yards. His rating was 21.7.
Content beyond this point is for members only.
Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the GarySheltonSports.com blog (its at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!
Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on GarySheltonSports.com.
“The NFL hasn't seen the last of me,” Dilfer said. Unfortunately, he was right.
In San Francisco, we learned the truth about Jeb Blount.
Blount was one of three quarterbacks the Bucs tried in the 1977 season. He went 0-4 with a 28.4 rating. His second start was agains the 49ers, when he led the team to 10 points, his career high. Blount wasn't the answer. A lot of quarterbacks haven't been.
In San Francisco, we learned the truth about Keyshawn Johnson.
Looking back, Johnson was probably a better player than fans remember, mainly because Keyshawn needed extra room for his ego on the team bus. That was his problem with coach Jon Gruden. Gruden simply didn't buy into the concept of Johnson as a special player. He didn't have enough speed.
So after a one-catch, four-yard performance in a 24-7 loss in 2003 – a season after the team won the Super Bowl – Johnson blew up. He was suspended by Gruden, then traded for for Joey Gallaway, who had a few moments.
In San Francisco, we learned about Simeon Rice.
In 2005, Rice missed a team meeting on Saturday night. He was deactivated and sent home. Some columnists (ahem) suggested that to salvage his role with the team, he needed to be contrite in the following week. He wasn't.
Rice was all smiles when he met with reporters, talking about flying home in first class, and reading a nice men's magazine. Turns out, he had one in his locker. “Like this one,” Rice said.
It was typical Rice, too-cool-for-school. I suspect the attitude has something to do with his lukewarm consideration by Pro Football Hall of Fame voters.
It was in San Francisco that we learned about Raheem Morris.
It was 2011, and the Bucs had won three in a row, but the West Coast was where it all fell apart. The Bucs would lose 10 of their final 11 games, including some by embarrassing margins.
Think about it. The year before, the Bucs beat the 49ers 21-0. In 2011, they lost 48-3.
“We were flat in the beginning, flat in the middle and flat in the end,” Morris said.
In San Francisco, we learned all about Doug Williams.
It was 1980, and Joe Montana threw for 200 yards. Williams? He had only 89 yards. But 43 of those came on the Bucs' final drive, as Williams guided his team 56 yards to set up Garo Ypremian's winning 30-yard field goal.
It was against San Francisco when we found out about Greg Schiano. Those who didn't know already, that is.
It was the third-to-last game of the Schiano era, and his team was lit up by Colin Kaepernick, who threw for two touchdowns in a 33-14 victory. But the macaroni lined up.
It was against San Francisco we learned about Warren Sapp.
Again, it was a home game, but it was too important for the Bucs for it not to be mentioned. The Bucs won 13-6, the first memorable win of the Tony Dungy era, and Sapp had 2 ½ sacks. On one play, he grabbed Jerry Rice, who was injured. It was one of the few regrets Sapp has expressed about his career.
We learned. We learned about Montana and Rice and Roger Craig and Cody Pickett. We learned about Leeman Bennett and Ray Perkins and Chris Chandler and Joey Gallaway.
Now come the new Bucs, playing against the controversial Kaepernick.
What will we learn? And how long will it last?