This has been a rough season for the San Francisco 49ers. After losing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a torn ACL in Week 3, the team did not get a win with backup CJ Beathard under center. Nick Mullens replaced Beathard and played well in a win in his first start against the Oakland Raiders. Mullens came back to earth against the New York Giants with two interceptions in a 27-23 defeat. After the bye, they have had two weeks to prepare for their next opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and look to perform well against a talented defensive line.
Preview Versus The Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers feature an intimidating 4-3 lineup which is led by one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL.
Gerald McCoy is unquestionably the leader of the Buccaneers defense and is one of the NFL’s top defensive tackles. The six-time Pro Bowl selection has four sacks in 2018. He should prove to be a problem for the 49ers interior offensive line.
Beau Allen lines up next to McCoy in the other defensive tackle spot. While he does not have any sacks this season he weighs a run -stuffing 327 pounds. His size should prove to be troublesome for the 49ers guards.
Vinny Curry lines up at defensive end and has 1.5 sacks this season. He is a lean 279 pounds and should cause trouble for any slow-footed offensive tackle.
Jason Pierre-Paul terrorizes quarterbacks from the other defensive end spot. He leads the team with an exceptional 9.5 sacks. Due to knee and shoulder injuries, Pierre-Paul has been listed as questionable. The 49ers have not allowed a sack the past two weeks and this streak will be put to the test if Pierre-Paul suits up.
William Gholston will take Pierre-Paul’s place if necessary. He only has six tackles and one sack for 2018. Pierre-Paul’s presence would make a major difference in the game.
Review Versus the New York Giants
Early in the second quarter, the 49ers faced 2nd-and-goal from the Giants three yard line. Running back Matt Breida was handed the ball and saw a large opening toward the end zone. He took advantage of the opportunity to put the 49ers ahead 10-7.
The following drive saw Breida take a pitch on a sweep play. The 49ers offensive line paved a path for him to follow for a 20 yard gain.
In the middle of the fourth quarter, Breida ran a sweep to the left. The offensive line got good angles on the Giants defense making ample room for Breida to run for a momentum building 23 yard gain.
Late in the fourth quarter, the 49ers were racing to complete a late comeback. Mullens desperately searched for an open receiver. Despite the Giants best efforts the 49ers offensive line held their blocks and did not allow any defenders anywhere near Mullens who was able to complete the pass for a first down.
For the second week in a row, the 49ers did not allow a single sack. However, there were a couple of plays where the defenders were a little too close for comfort.
Early in the fourth quarter, the 49ers faced 3rd-and-9. Mullens fired a pass to receiver Dante Pettis which was short of a first down. While he completed the pass, cornerback Grant Haley blitzed from the left side of the line untouched knocking Mullens off his feet.
Late in the fourth quarter, the 49ers had 3rd-and-6 and Mullens looked for an open receiver. Right tackle Mike McGlinchey could not maintain his block long enough for Mullens to attempt the pass.
Mullens was forced to improvise and quickly moved out of the pocket while completing the pass to receiver Kendrick Bourne. The completion was short of the first down and the 49ers kicked a field goal to go ahead 23-20.
Late in the fourth quarter, the 49ers were down 27-23 and attempting a late comeback. On the first play of the drive, McGlinchey could not hold his block and Mullens was hit as he threw the ball. The pass was incomplete but the Giants were penalized for roughing the passer, setting up a fresh set of downs.
On the final play of the game, Mullens looked towards the end zone to throw a desperation pass. The Giants pass rush furiously tried to get the sack.
The 49ers offensive line has been on a roll while not allowing any sacks in the past two weeks. With the running game coming together it appears they are starting to put the pieces together for a bounce-back season in 2019.
The Buccaneers defense is significantly more talented than the 49ers previous two opponents and should prove tough against the run. The 49ers offensive line has performed well against two of the worst pass rushes in the NFL but will be tested against a talented Tampa Bay defensive line.