The season is upon us and I want to have some fun with it! So this new segment will be a couple of bold predictions for the upcoming game day for our beloved 49ers. Strap in and enjoy the ride in Mike’s psychotic mind! Let’s have some fun:
This week’s edition will have 5 bold predictions to watch for on Sunday as the San Francisco 49ers square off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (explanations included).
1. DeForest Buckner won’t have a sack
How can that be? We watched the Cleveland Browns demolish that starting offensive line to the tune of five first half sacks, so why won’t Buckner eat? As the team’s sack leader last season, Buckner will likely be the focal point for the opposing team’s offense. While the 49ers have added the likes of Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, the pass rush for them will come and go. Buckner will likely see more snaps than each of them (especially since they both missed preseason). This will cause more fatigue for #99 and will also result in Bosa and Ford getting home (to the QB) faster than Defo. All that said, I expect Buckner to be the most disruptive lineman on Sunday forcing TFLs, and rushed passes by Jameis Winston, but not getting any sacks. Plenty of pressures though!
2. Kwon Alexander will have the first (blitz) sack
Sticking with the subject of sacks on Jameis Winston, I think the first sack from a blitz comes from the former Buccaneer himself. This off-season, we’ve seen a new energy injected into the 49ers; there’s a tangible energy that effects every member of the defense. Maybe it’s coming from the likes of our highest paid inside linebacker, maybe it’s not… But I fully expect for defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to try to get an emotional charge out of the “Hot Boyz” by getting Alexander the opportunity for a big play. And I don’t think he’ll miss.
3. No interceptions
So much has been made of the 49ers’ inability to catch a pass from opposing QBs, that I think we have some first hand jitters. I fully expect there to be a couple of opportunities to reel one in, but I think we fall short of that. Winston is a gun slinger by nature and Bruce Arians encourages that kind of activity from his quarterbacks. The combination of a coach and QB both being willing to take shots means those shots will be more calculated than the likes Winston normally chucks up.
4. The 49ers force four fumbles, recovering three
Although I don’t expect any interceptions, I expect plenty of fumbles to be caused. According to Vegas, this will be a high scoring affair that the 49ers should win. That suggests having a lead that the Buccaneers must overcome. In order to do that, we will see more five and seven step drops called by the Bucs’ offense and that’s right where we want them. The 49ers will take advantage here. Buckner and Armstead will take away the ability to step up in the pocket, while the power and speed off the edge from Ford and Bosa will put them in advantageous positions for strip sacks. Expect that twice. I also think we see a muffed punt caused by a Mitch Wishnowsky knuckle ball. While watching preseason I noticed a lot of players stripping at the ball during gang tackles. We should get one more fumble from this as well.
5. 49ers leading WR will be Tyshun “Deebo” Samuel
Beware the unknown! I don’t think it’s by happenstance that Samuel only touched the ball a handful of times during preseason. Over a year ago head coach Kyle Shanahan said “if it works in preseason, it likely won’t work in the regular season.” Since that time, the 49ers have drafted a wide receiver that is perfect in this system, with this quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo). Shanahan loves to get guys in space. Garoppolo loves to deliver quickly across the middle of the field, and Deebo loves to take slants to the house. This is going to be a marriage that grows on the NFL for years to come. Samuel will quickly become one of the biggest playmakers on the 49ers roster and will have fans just hoping to see the ball in his hands. It won’t matter what Shanahan dials up, a route, a jet sweep or end around, a draw play up the middle or what. We will all be clamouring for #19 to get the rock!