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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs-49ers: Keys to the game

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Published:   |   Updated: December 15, 2013 at 08:10 AM

GIVE GLENNON A CHANCE

After an impressive start to his rookie season, Bucs QB Mike Glennon has put together two clunkers in a row — and that is cause for concern. There is, however, a valid and seemingly correctable reason for Glennon’s suddenly shaky decision-making and poorly thrown passes. According to ProFootballFocus, Glennon has been under pressure more than any quarterback in the league but Oakland’s Terrelle Pryor this year. Since taking over the starting duties 10 weeks ago, Glennon has had to work in the face of pressure on 45 percent of his drop-backs. Even a savvy veteran would have a hard time working under that kind of pressure. Whether it’s through better line play or more imaginative play design, the Bucs need to give Glennon more of a chance to read through his progressions and step into his throws.

WATCH PLAY-ACTION FAKES

Every quarterback benefits from the use of play-action fakes, but few more than the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick. He has compiled a 113.3 passer rating and thrown eight touchdowns and one interception off play-action fakes this year. Without that veiled hand-off, however, Kaepernick is far less effective. His rating drops to just 78.9 and he has thrown seven touchdowns and six interceptions without the aid of the fake. Kaepernick uses play-action fakes on about one-fourth of his drop-backs, so the Bucs have to be aware. Those fakes are designed to get defenses to bite on phantom runs, and they’re hard to ignore. But if the Bucs read the plays well and avoid biting, they can greatly limit Kaepernick’s effectiveness throwing the ball.

PLAY LIKE IT’S THE PLAYOFFS

No, this is not a playoff game. Far from it. Today’s matchup between the Bucs and the 49ers does, however, involve a likely playoff-bound team in San Francisco. And what would it say about this late-season rally the Bucs are enjoying if they could somehow beat a potential playoff team? It would say a lot, actually. At the very least, it would give it some legitimacy. The Bucs have little left to play for outside of job security, so they should treat this like it’s their playoff game. The practice will be good for them. Besides, the Bucs have said for months now they’re better than their record suggests. Well, here’s a chance to prove it. In front of a packed house, the Bucs can turn a lot of doubters into believers today.

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The Vibe

A long, agonizing season is beginning to draw to a close, but you don’t get a sense walking through the locker room that Bucs players are eager for this year to be over. The feeling is they have just recently begun to develop the chemistry and comfort level with the schemes necessary to win consistently, and many would like to see this season extended. The Bucs won’t get that chance, of course. They won’t be in the playoffs, so there are only three games left. But their focus is not on getting past those three games and into the offseason. The Bucs in the past few weeks have become a very confident team, and the goal now is to prove they really are better than their 4-9 record indicates.

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5 Questions with Bucs QB Mike Glennon

Q: Who was the better quarterback, you or your big brother Sean?

A: He did a lot for me, but I’d say myself. I made it this far. He’s a mortgage banker up in northern Virginia and he does well for himself.

 

Q: Have you completed your Christmas shopping, and how much do you figure you’ve spent?

A: I finished up early this week and I probably went a little over $2,000 or so when you add it all up.

 

Q: What’s the fastest you’ve ever driven and what were the circumstances?

A: I’ve never been pulled over. I’d say the fastest I’ve gone is probably 15-20 miles over the speed limit on I-95.

 

Q: What’s the first country on your wish list to visit?

A: Australia. I just think it’s really cool. I know it’s a long trip, but it seems like a place I’ve always wanted to check out.

 

Q: What food will you not eat, under any circumstances.

A: If it’s anything really spicy, I’m not interested. Whether it’s jalapenos or stuff like that, I can’t do spice.

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Key matchup

49ers wide receivers vs. Bucs secondary

The 49ers roll into Tampa with the league’s worst passing attack. That’s right, the 49ers rank 32nd in the league in passing yards per game with 178.3. The Bucs, though, cannot allow themselves to be fooled by that. The absence of WR Michael Crabtree contributed greatly to the 49ers’ struggles, but Crabtree is back. With Anquan Boldin working the other side of the field, the 49ers have two dynamic targets for QB Colin Kaepernick. The Bucs have intercepted a league-high 21 passes but have also shown a tendency to give up some big plays in the passing game. CB Darrelle Revis likely will shadow Boldin, which will leave rookie CB Johnthan Banks to take care of Crabtree. If Banks can limit Crabtree’s yards after the catch, he can win his battle and limit the 49ers’ ability to move the chains.

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The Picks

ROY CUMMINGS

49ers, 28-17

Bucs make a game of it in home finale, but fall short of signature victory.

IRA KAUFMAN

49ers, 20-7

Mike Glennon discovers there aren’t a lot of holes in the NFL’s No. 4 defense.

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