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Gerald McCoy was surprisingly good against the 49ers

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco 49ers Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were pretty happy to get Gerald McCoy back against the San Francisco 49ers, the defensive tackle ended up missing just a single game, but they also expected him to be limited in his snap count, and probably the quality of his play, too.

No such thing: McCoy ended up with a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a pass defensed, all while being on the field for 91% of the defensive plays. He made his presence felt throughout — and head coach Dirk Koetter explained why.

“I said Gerald was going to be on a pitch count, he played 64 plays, I think he took himself out one time. A lot of the players that come back after a three-week absence, they look a little rusty out there and we had a couple guys that were in that category. Gerald did not look rusty, he looked like he was right back in Pro Bowl form. Gerald is one of those unique players that makes the other guys around him better and we were very happy to have him back.”

For some reason, there’s always a contingent of Bucs fans who can’t stand McCoy, going back all the way to his pre-draft days, when folks were enamored with Ndamukong Suh, who the Bucs never had the chance to draft anyway. Koetter was there to disabuse folks of the notion that McCoy doesn’t earn his keep.

“I think Gerald gets a bad rap sometimes, people don’t appreciate what he brings to the table. Having coached against him, you’ve got to double team him or your guards are going to struggle to block him. Your center definitely can’t block him single. He can beat a double team and when he does get singled he’s going to get penetration. He had a sack, caused a fumble – we didn’t get that fumble.”

In other words: Gerald McCoy is very important to this team’s defense. Surprise!