49ers humble bumbling Bucs in 35-7 win

by Gary Shelton on December 12, 2022

in general

Monday, 4 a.m.

They lost, because they were not fast enough to win.

They lost, because they were not strong enough to win.

They lost, because they were not good enough to win.

And, most important, they lost because they were not smart enough to win.

The Bucs were clobbered on Sunday. Embarrassed. Humbled. Bullied. Pick your verb. It was a loss straight out of the Raheem Morris era, or maybe the Leeman Bennett era. They lost 35-7, to a quarterback making his first start, and it could have been much, much worse.

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There is a saying in football. Losing makes you stupid, and stupid makes you lose. The Bucs played a game between the two phrases Sunday, offering no resistance to a San Francisco team that barely broke a sweat.

The 49ers dominated the game. It was 35-0 with 14 minutes left when the 49ers eased off the gas.

"In short," said Bucs' coach Todd Bowles, "we got our asses kicked.

“We played bad in all phases. We got outcoached. We coached bad. We played bad. We got our ass kicked on offense. We got our ass kicked on defense."

Quick. Can you remember one area of football that the Bucs won on Sunday? Not on the offensive line, not on the defensive line. Not running and not tackling. Not receiving and not covering. Not coaching and not quarterbacking.

It wasn't the first embarrassing loss for the Bucs, but the losses against Carolina, Pittsburgh and Cleveland were because of the level of competition. This was because of the performance involved. The Bucs looked like a team that has won only six times -- three of those with fourth quarter touchdowns.

But as ugly as the plan was ,the brain cramps were even worse.

For instance.

-- On the first play of the game, Keanu Neal came unblocked on a pass rush. But instead of being happy with the sack, Neal lowered his head and was called for an illegal hit. The 49ers went on to score.

-- The Bucs seemed to tie the game when Tom Brady hit Mike Evans for a 65-yard touchdown pass. But on the play, tackle Donovan Smith was called for holding -- again.

-- Logan Ryan lost Christian McCaffrey in coverage was as beaten for a touchdown.

-- The Bucs got a goal-to-go situation. But on fourth down, Brady threw an awful pass to Mike Evans.

-- The Bucs seemed to have stopped the 49ers on their next drive, but Carlton Davis was called for a (questionable) hold to negate teammate Anthony Nelson's interception.

-- Late in the game, with the Bucs seemingly accepting the outcome, the Bucs ran the ball four straight times. On the last one, Rachaad White fumbled.

In other words, it was lions and lambs, hunter and prey. The Bucs weren't as quick, didn't tackle, didn't block, didn't cover. The Brady-to-Evans connection is still sputtering, as if one of them owes the other an apology. The defense had no clue how to stop rookie quarterback Brock Purdy, who had a 134.0 quarterback rating.

Brady, on the other hand, had to rally to finish at 63.7, his low mark of the season.

“I think all year, we never got off to fast starts," Brady said. "We're behind and it turns into a pass-a-thon. It’s hard to play football like that. 

"We’ve just got to play better. We have not played consistently well very often. We haven’t played it for four quarters. Some games. we've played well for five minutes and not for 55."

McCaffrey ran for 119 yards against the Bucs.

The Bucs have a one-game lead in the division with four to play, including next week's game against defending AFC champion Cincinnati.

“We have to decide what kind of team we want to be," Bowles said. Either we want it or we don’t. We’ve got to buckle down."

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