49ers special teams, coaching grades vs. Buccaneers
It’s hard to think back to the last time the 49ers put together such a complete victory with the offense, defense and even special teams dominating in every facet.
OK, perhaps the Niners’ dominating win over the Arizona Cardinals back in Week 11 on Monday Night Football.
That said, every element of San Francisco’s game plan was perfect and perfectly executed, including ensuring Brock Purdy would have success in a high-pressure situation.
It’s finally becoming apparent the job special teams coordinator Brian Schneider has done this season in his first year at the helm, as this crucial third phase is no longer a massive weakness.
Return specialist Ray-Ray McCloud had two kickoff returns for 54 total yards, and he also had 43 yards on three punt returns, too, helping assist the 49ers in offensive field position on those efforts.
Kicker Robbie Gould didn’t miss on his five extra-point attempts, while punter Mitch Wishnowsky averaged 44.7 yards on three punts, one of those going inside the 20-yard line.
All the while, Tampa Bay’s own special teams unit didn’t impact the game in a way that hindered the Niners much at all.
Kyle Shanahan might receive some flak (he did from Jerry Rice, at least) for running Deebo Samuel up the middle on the play where he was injured, but other than that, the head coach’s game plan was almost completely flawless.
Purdy was allowed to make plays, both scripted and off-script, which was notable. Yet Shanahan ensured the rest of San Francisco’s offense took the pressure off the rookie, and that’s precisely what happened with Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk all having substantial impacts.
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The 49ers finished 4-of-9 on third downs but went 2-of-3 in the red zone, while the offense averaged an impressive 5.8 yards per play.
All of that could arguably be outdone by defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, though, whose campaign to become a head coach in 2023 just got a lot better after nearly shutting out Tom Brady and the Buccaneers but still dominating them in effectively every portion of the game.
The Bucs, meanwhile went 4-of-16 on third down and only 1-of-2 in the red zone.
A masterclass once more by Ryans and Co., and the Niners will retain that No. 1-ranked defense in the NFL heading into Week 15.