49ers preview: Can Mullens outscore Bucs without top WRs Goodwin and Garcon?

QB Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
QB Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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San Francisco 49ers Tampa Bay Buccaneers Week 12 preview
Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) /

Week 12 by the numbers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lacked consistency at the quarterback position in 2018.

Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter has alternated between quarterbacks four times over the Bucs’ first 10 games of the season, although Koetter was forced to begin the season without his first choice at the position, as Winston was suspended by the NFL for the first three games of the season.

After getting the starting nod for Week 1, Fitzpatrick led the Buccaneers to two surprising wins over the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles. The veteran quarterback threw for over 400 yards and four touchdowns in both contests, before coming down to earth with a three-interception performance during a Week 3 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, although he still amassed over 400 passing yards in the contest.

Fitzpatrick started under center for Tampa Bay in Week 4, but was benched for Winston at halftime after an erratic first half. Winston retained the starting job for the next three games, before Koetter switched quarterbacks again during Week 8, and then back again to Winston during last week’s game.

Tampa Bay’s constant QB changes have been a result of their quarterbacks’ inconsistent play. The Buccaneers currently lead the NFL with a total of 3,610 passing yards in just 10 games but also lead the league with 23 interceptions.

Despite turning the ball over 29 times in 2018, Tampa Bay has managed only six total takeaways this season. The Buccaneers’ turnover differential of -23 is easily the league’s worst mark, as the 49ers’ -15 turnover margin ranks 31st in the NFL.

Tampa Bay’s defense has allowed an average of nearly 33 points per game, due to a combination of a subpar defensive unit and the team’s ongoing turnover problems.

The Buccaneers have a high-powered offense that racks up yardage but turns the ball over at an alarming rate. Mullens and the 49ers’ offense will look to keep pace with the Bucs’ prolific passing attack, while the Niners’ defense will focus on taking advantage of turnover opportunities.