It was by no means pretty, but the San Francisco 49ers pulled out a 31-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to open the season. Here are the top takeaways as the 49ers kicked off their 2019 campaign 1-0.
1. San Francisco’s defense forced a three-and-out on Tampa Bay’s opening drive. Former 49ers punter Bradley Pinion’s punt was blocked by Mark Nzeocha to force a turnover on downs. The 49ers started the ensuing drive on Tampa Bay’s 33-yard line.
2. Nzeocha had himself a day, while also recording his first career interception. Jameis Winston threw a pass that bounced off of the hands of O.J. Howard and into the arms of the linebacker.
3. Kwon Alexander's revenge game was cut short following a lowering of the helmet penalty called on the linebacker. On a scramble, Winston slid for the extra yards when Alexander collided with the quarterback on the hit which led to a first quarter ejection. Prior to his discharge, Alexander had a notable 49ers debut recording three tackles in the first quarter and a near-interception on a pass from Winston. Despite the ejection, Kyle Shanahan awarded the linebacker the game ball following Sunday's win.
"It's a big deal coming home to Tampa," Shanahan said postgame. "He did a lot of good things here. Hard on him to only play the first quarter. Guys were pumped up we were able to win it for him."
5. Deebo Samuel first NFL reception was a slant from Jimmy Garoppolo on 3rd-and-12. The rookie wideout spun off of his defender and managed to pick up 14 yards for the first down. Samuel finished his NFL debut catching all three of his targets for 17 yards and connecting on a 2-point conversion.
6. Penalties haunted the 49ers season debut. The team totaled three touchdowns that were all called back due to penalties. San Francisco was flagged 11 times for 87 yards.
“We didn’t play our best ball today, but the guys played very hard," Shanahan said. "When you’ve got 21 points called back from penalties. We gave them a number of free first downs off penalties and just a lot of self-inflicted wounds that we weren’t proud of. The guys just still battled and to fight and come up with that win shows how hard the guys fought. Especially, in this heat and stuff. I know guys were struggling. Also, losing one of our linebackers early in the first quarter was tough to overcome. The guys kept fighting through. Pulled out a win. Very happy about that.”
7. The 49ers opened the second half with a 7-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a 39-yard touchdown pass from Garoppolo to Richie James Jr. James Jr. stutter stepped and beat his man on the way to the end zone in his lone reception of the night.
8. Richard Sherman came up with his first interception as a member of the 49ers. Tampa Bay running back Peyton Barber got spun around on the route as the ball landed right into the cornerback’s hands. Sherman’s interception marked the 33rd of his career, and third for a touchdown.
9. Tevin Coleman was ruled out with an ankle injury by the start of the second half. The running back was limited to six carries for 23 yards to go along with two receptions for 33 yards. There is no word yet on the severity of Coleman’s injury, however it will be something to monitor in the coming days. The 49ers were able to stash second-year back Jeff Wilson Jr. on the team’s practice squad and could be a candidate to be activated to the team’s 53-man roster in Week 2.
“We’ll have to get X-rays and we’ll see after this game,” Shanahan said. “We love Jeff who’s on the practice squad. Jeff’s a great player, we’ll see what’s up with Tevin and how long he will be out.”
10. K'Waun Williams and Matt Breida both suffered hydration issues during Sunday’s contest. Sunday's contest reached highs of 93 degrees with around 65 percent humidity. Breida and Mostert both returned shortly after being evaluated in the medical tent.
11. Nick Bosa recorded the first sack of his young NFL career. Bosa came off of the edge and into Winston, who was pressured from the other side by Dee Ford. Bosa had a missed opportunity in the first quarter when Winston side stepped the rookie, barely dodging the hit.
“From what I saw (Bosa and Ford) looked good,” Shanahan said. “I know they weren’t out there all the time. I saw them make a few plays. Every time I looked up it seemed like when Bosa was in he got back there. Missed Jameis on a couple that I saw, but he’s pretty good at that too. He’s done that to some pretty good players. I was really happy with how they got into the backfield. Not just them two the whole d-line.”
12. The 49ers third interception on the day came on behalf of Ahkello Witherspoon. Winston was under pressure by Bosa, Ford and Arik Armstead as the quarterback launched the ball into the direction of Witherspoon. The third-year cornerback returned the pick 25 yards for a touchdown to seal the game.
13. Of note, the 49ers defense limited the Buccaneers to just 3.4 yards per play in the first half.
14. In his first regular season game since Week 3 of 2018, Garoppolo finished the contest connecting on 18-of-27 passes for 166 yards, one touchdown and one interception.