49ers schedule: Week 10 vs. Buccaneers could define Ricky Pearsall's rookie season

The Buccaneers are hurting for quality cornerbacks entering 2024, which means Ricky Pearsall could go off when the Niners come to town.
Florida Gators wide receiver Ricky Pearsall (1)
Florida Gators wide receiver Ricky Pearsall (1) / James Gilbert/GettyImages

If rookie wide receiver Ricky Pearsall wants to have a coming-out game, Week 10 could be it when the 49ers visit the Buccaneers.

The San Francisco 49ers' passing attack might need to be on full display when they visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 10 this season.

And the Niners' top pick from the 2024 NFL Draft, wide receiver Ricky Pearsall, might have a lot to do with the eventual outcome.

Of course, the Bucs can counter with their own aerial game, provided quarterback Baker Mayfield replicates his stunning bounce-back campaign from a year ago this season. But, with top-flight wide receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin helping him out, Mayfield is in a promising situation.

But Tampa Bay's secondary is a weakness.

Despite signing safety Antoine Winfield Jr. to a record-setting contract extension, the Buccaneers' defensive backfield could be their Achilles heel, defensively, over the course of 2024. In fact, according to Matt Johnson's defensive rankings over at Sportsnaut, the Bucs' overall defense ranked 22nd entering the upcoming season, and Johnson cited Tampa Bay's cornerback room as the biggest culprit of worry.

That's where Pearsall could come into play.

The No. 31 overall pick from the draft is going to have his opportunities despite being behind star wide receivers, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. Yet head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense is all about taking advantage of favorable matchups (this is the case for most teams), meaning exploiting the weakest link on a defense is usually the smart way to go.

Related story: 49ers 2024 regular-season schedule and opponents

The Buccaneers aren't likely settled yet on a nickel cornerback. Perhaps rookie Tykee Smith, selected near the end of Round 3 in the draft, winds up winning the job out of training camp.

That's potentially an advantage Pearsall and San Francisco's offense can take advantage of. Plus, going back to the state where he played college ball at the University of Florida won't hurt matters either.

Plus, with the game taking place in Week 10, Pearsall should have time to cut his teeth at the NFL level, honing his route-running skills and mastery of Shanahan's offense.

If there's a game where Pearsall can showcase his ceiling, doing so against the Bucs might just be it.

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