49ers overcome late-game Buccaneers surge to go 2-0 after the bye week

Nov 19, 2023, 6:30 PM | Updated: Nov 20, 2023, 2:47 pm

Brock Purdy #13 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after throwing a pass for a touchdown during the ...

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Week 11 for the 49ers had everything you’d expect: Drama, adversity, heroics, sacks. But in the end, all the eyes were on the Red & Gold, running their way to 2-0 out of the bye week.

The San Francisco 49ers got out to an early lead on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and never looked back, winning 27-14 Sunday. Quarterback Brock Purdy was the talk of the town in Week 11, going for 300-plus passing yards and a perfect quarterback rating. But when it mattered most, the 49ers defense stepped up with two goal-line stands to seal the victory.

Here’s how it all went down at Levi’s Stadium.

Week 11 between the Buccaneers and 49ers started slowly, with both franchises struggling to gain much traction offensively. The home side had more plays on their first drive than the visitors (five to three) but both didn’t materialize into much.

Then Purdy and the offense got clicking.

The 49ers QB helped San Francisco go on a 12-play drive next, working his way downfield methodically. It started with a play-action pass, hitting wide receiver Deebo Samuel on a crossing route for 15 yards. Later, Purdy connected with running back Christian McCaffrey for 11 yards to pick up a crucial third-down conversion. Then, the QB found Brandon Aiyuk for a 14-yard first down to put them in plus territory.

A few plays later, McCaffrey slipped out of the backfield to get open for a touchdown pass from Purdy near the goal-line. 7-0 49ers halfway through the first quarter.

The Bucs didn’t travel cross-country to get blown out again however, driving downfield on a nine-play drive. QB Baker Mayfield connected with several of his playmakers, especially on screen passes, as the visitors crossed the 50-yard-line to end the first quarter.

Then the 49ers defense came through.

After giving up another first down, Mayfield and Co. dropped back to sling it for a big gain. But with his receivers blanketed, he had nowhere to go as Nick Bosa worked to collapse the pocket. Forcing the QB to step up, the 49ers pass rusher got to Mayfield initially, with linebacker Freed Warner delivering the hit that jarred the football loose. San Francisco retained possession of the fumble through the scrum, coming up with a big swing in momentum for the contest.

San Francisco responded well with the takeaway, going on a nine-play drive into the redzone. But after a clean blitxz from Tampa saw Purdy get sacked, the 49ers couldn’t recover, forced to take three points via a 37-yard field goal from Jake Moody.

10-0 to San Francisco midway through the second quarter.

But once again, the Bucs weren’t going away without a fight.

Mayfield and Co. chewed up most of the remaining clock in the second quarter, walking to the endzone on a 10-play drive. Tampa Bay stayed had of the downs throughout, sprinkling in big catches to WR Trey Palmer and tight end Cade Otton to get them into the redzone. Then they used some trickety to get Palmer free, using an end around to pick up 17 more yards.

A play later, Mayfield hit star WR Mike Evans for a quick-strike score to make it 10-7 with 1:48 remaining in the half.

The 49ers responded again though, going on an efficient two-minute drill to close out the half. And Purdy was the catalyst, hitting Aiyuk on a 37-yard catch and run to put them at Tampa Bay’s 34-yard-line. Then, the QB hits Kittle and Aiyuk to get them 15 yards close to pay dirt. But with little time remaining, San Francisco goes for broke on third down, unable to connect in the endzone.

Halted on another possession, SF sends out the Moody to hit another FG, making the halftime score, 13-7.

The visitors have the ball coming back from break, but are unable to do much with it. After an initial first down, the Buccaneers get stonewalled by the 49ers’ defense. Third down was the biggest play though, with cornerback Charvarius Ward getting a pass break-up on Palmer to force a punt.

Backed up to their own endzone, San Francisco had their best sequence of the game to open the second half.

First, Purdy connected with Kittle for a 21-yard PA pass to get some breathing room. Then, he took a shot deep to a streaking Brandon Aiyuk, putting it on the money for the wideout. BA saw the ball and beat CB Jamel Dean, racing past the rest of the Bucs’ secondary for six.

A 76-yard TD strike on a three-play drive; The 49ers had taken command of the game just like in Week 10. 20-7 read the score in a matter of seconds.

Once the offense has a big play, the defense usually follows, smelling blood in the water by the opposition. After letting up two first downs, SF rallied to stonewall Mayfield. Third down almost resulted in the second takeaway for the unit, but LB Dre Greenlaw dropped the pick. Nevertheless, it was fourth down and the Bucs had to punt.

But that came at a price, with All-Pro safety Talanoa Hufanga suffering a serious knee injury at the 8:40 mark of the third quarter. He was carted off the field after being examined, with his 2023 season likely in the balance.

San Francisco’s offense took care of business next, going on a 79-yard march to the endzone. This time McCaffrey got going on the ground, picking up 12 yards to open the drive. Then, Purdy hit Kittle for another first down, gaining 11 on the play.

The QB’s next throw was another standout, stepping up in the pocket to fire a strike on the run to Samuel, allowing him to race past defenders down to the 20-yard-line. After McCaffrey chewed up more yards, it was first and goal for the 49ers.

A few plays later, Purdy found Kittle wide open ion the left corner of the endzone for a three-yard score.

27-7 was the score with little time remaining in the third quarter. Time to send in the backups right? Wrong.

Tampa Bay wasn’t going out like that, rebounding with a five-play, 53-yard drive. Most of it was gained on a 40-yard seam route to WR Rakim Jarrett, getting behind rookie safety Ji’Ayir Brown. Then, Warner was called for pass interference on Otton, putting the Buccaneers at the goal-line. They scored on the next play, making it 27-14 at the start of the fourth quarter.

Purdy and Co. struggled to get much going after that, going on two consecutive three and outs. That left the door open for Mayfield to mount a comeback.

And that’s when the 49ers’ defense had their biggest moments.

Allowing a 17-play drive, San Francisco was on its’ heels midway through the fourth quarter. But in the redzone, the 49ers stood tall. Mayfield dropped back to pass on third down and short, rifling a pass to Evans in the endzone that was broken up by S Tashaun Gipson and Charvarius Ward. The latter got banged up, forced to come off the field for the next play. Now on fourth down, the Bucs QB tired to hit Evans again on the other side of the field. But he got hit as he threw the ball, with a wobbly pass being broken up by Brown.

Turnover on downs in a pivotal moment of the game, thanks to the rookie standout.

On the next series, San Francisco punted away to Tampa, allowing them to have a 51-yard return back into dangerous territory. But once again, Brown made a play when it mattered most.

Facing another third down, Mayfield felt the pressure of the 49ers’ pass rushers, throwing a bullet to WR Chris Godwin. The ball was too fast, ricocheting off a 49ers’ helmet before falling to Brown for the INT touchback to seal the win for the 49ers, 27-14.

Despite filling in for the injured Hufanga, the third-round pick played well in the fourth quarter, coming up with four tackles, three PBUs and one INT in a quarter of play Sunday. The 49ers expect big things from the Penn State alum. Maybe not this quickly, but they’ll take it nonetheless.

“The biggest thing you can ask for from a young guy is to be ready,” the rookie safety explained. “Every week, I’ve just been preparing for that day. Never knew when that day was going to come, but just preparing every day, consistently, working hard, meeting extra time with the coach. When my number was called today, I was fortunate enough to go out there an execute the job.”

And his head coach agrees, hoping he can fill the void if Hufanga’s injury is long-term.

“I think he did a hell of a job,” Kyle Shanahan said about Brown.

The story of the game was Brock Purdy though, throwing for 333 yards, three touchdowns on only 21 completions. He also finished perfect on passer rating (158.3), the first 49ers QB to do so. After a rough stretch in October (five INTs in three weeks), Purdy has responded on fire, with fans, coaches and his own teammates still baffled by the notion he’s a product of the 49ers’ system.

“That’s a horrendous statement. That’s never been the case,” McCaffrey said about Purdy postgame. “You can make that argument with any quarterback ever. I can show you the tape if you really sit down and watch it of all the amazing throws, the amazing plays, off-schedule plays, checks that he’s getting to. It starts with him.”

The 49ers move to 7-3 on the season, now atop the NFC West division. They can’t celebrate for too long however, heading to Seattle on Thanksgiving to face the Seahawks in a pivotal showdown.

Upcoming San Francisco 49ers Schedule

  • Thursday, Nov. 23rd @ Seattle Seahawks – 5:20 p.m. PST
  • Sunday, Dec. 3rd @ Philadelphia Eagles – 1:25 p.m. PST
  • Sunday, Dec. 10th vs. Seattle Seahawks – 1:05 p.m. PST
  • Sunday, Dec. 17th @ Arizona Cardinals – 1:05 p.m. PST

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