3 Takeaways from 49ers' Week 14 Win vs. Buccaneers

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxCorrespondent IDecember 12, 2022

3 Takeaways from 49ers' Week 14 Win vs. Buccaneers

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    QB Brock Purdy and the 49ers
    Tony Ding/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Sunday's win wasn't all positive for the San Francisco 49ers, as star wideout Deebo Samuel exited the game on a cart. However, that was about the only thing that didn't go right for San Francisco during its 35-7 romp over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    This game was never close, as the 49ers defense dominated Tom Brady and the Bucs. The 49ers fared well on offense too, mounting several long drives against a Tampa defense that still ranks 10th overall and ninth in points allowed even after Sunday.

    In all, this was one of the most complete games of the season for San Francisco—an impressive feat given the fact that it was the first start for rookie quarterback Brock Purdy.

    The biggest takeaway from the blowout is that the 49ers are legitimate contenders, even with quarterbacks Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo on injured reserve. Here's what else we learned from San Francisco's Week 14 win against the Buccaneers.

San Francisco's Defense May Be Unstoppable

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    49ers edge Nick Bosa
    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    Let's be honest: The Buccaneers offense hasn't been great this season. Tampa got flustered by the lowly Cleveland Browns two weeks ago and narrowly escaped the New Orleans Saints last Monday.

    Yet, Tampa does have Brady, as well as skill players like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette. Despite this, the Buccaneers didn't find points until the third quarter, after the game was already out of hand.

    Tampa finished with 322 yards of offense but was just 4-of-16 on third downs and 4-of-7 on fourth downs. Brady was picked off twice in the second half, and while he wasn't sacked, he was constantly under pressure.

    The 49ers now rank first in both yards and points allowed. They've racked up 36 sacks and have allowed just 24 points over their last three games combined. They haven't allowed more than 20 points in a game since Week 7.

    What's impressive about San Francisco's defense is that it features legitimate playmakers at all three levels. Nick Bosa headlines the pass rush, linebacker Fred Warner is a bona fide star, and safety Tashaun Gipson—who opened the season on the practice squad—has become a difference-maker.

    The Niners should be favored in every one of their remaining games: at the Seattle Seahawks and Las Vegas Raiders and home against the Washington Commanders and Arizona Cardinals.

    With this defense, San Francisco could make a run to the Super Bowl.

The 49ers Will Be Just Fine with Purdy Under Center

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    Brock Purdy
    Michael Owens/Getty Images

    When Garoppolo suffered a season-ending foot injury last week, many 49ers fans might have felt that their season was doomed. Many might have expected San Francisco to put in a waiver claim for recently released quarterback Baker Mayfield.

    San Francisco didn't try to get Mayfield—the rival Los Angeles Rams did, and they immediately got a win from him Thursday—and instead chose to ride things out with seventh-round rookie Brock Purdy.

    The 49ers' faith in Purdy, who was selected with the last pick in the draft, appears justified. The Iowa State product was fantastic against the Buccaneers, finishing 16-of-21 for 185 yards and two touchdowns.

    Those are solid numbers in San Francisco's run-oriented offense, and it's not as if Purdy is simply playing the game-manager role. His 32-yard touchdown connection with Brandon Aiyuk showed that Purdy can stretch the field too.

    The 49ers offense appeared as potent as it has all season, and while running back Christian McCaffrey (153 scrimmage yards) was a big part of that, so was Purdy. As long as San Francisco can avoid a third serious quarterback injury this season—journeyman Josh Johnson is the backup—it should still feel great about its postseason chances.

The 49ers May Have Avoided Another Season-Ending Injury

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    Deebo Samuel
    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    When Samuel exited the game on a cart in the second quarter, fans likely feared the worst. Would this be the second season-ending injury to an integral player in as many weeks? It appeared so at the time.

    However, the 49ers may have avoided that fate and could have Samuel back for the postseason.

    "49ers coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters that WR Deebo Samuel most likely suffered a high-ankle sprain. If the MRI confirms that thought, those are generally 4-6 week injuries. The first round of the playoffs is 5 weeks from today," NFL Media's Ian Rapoport tweeted Sunday night.

    High ankle sprains can be serious. Rams receiver Cooper Kupp remains on injured reserve after suffering one in Week 10. However, a sprain is likely a best-case scenario after Samuel couldn't leave the field under his own power.

    Would the 49ers love to have Samuel for the season's final month? Absolutely. The receiver/runner has racked up 840 scrimmage yards and five touchdowns this season. The good news, though, is that they may have Samuel back in January.