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Rookie Review: Buccaneers vs 49ers

A look back at how the new guys did in their Week 1 match-up

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For the rookies on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers rosters, this past Sunday was their first opportunity to play in a regular season NFL game.

All season long, we’ll be diving into the rookie classes of the Bucs and their opponent to see what the young guys look like today in hopes of getting glimpses into what the future holds for the newest class of NFL rookies.

Week 1 is in the books, so let’s take a look at how the new guys did.



NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Training Camp Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In his first full game as an NFL linebacker Devin White had a heavy task awaiting him facing a Kyle Shanahan offense which thrives off of misdirection, crossing patters, rubs, and features one of the games best tight ends in George Kittle.

To his credit, the Bucs defense never looked out of place which is a testament not only to Todd Bowles’ defense and his coaching staffs preparation of their squad, but also to the rookie signal caller who’s job it is to ensure his unit is in the right places according to what the offense is showing.

Coming in third on the team in tackles (6) helps too, as White was able to contribute steadily for a defense that held the San Francisco 49ers offense to just 256 total yards and under 40% on third downs while allowing just one offensive touchdown.

Kittle is considered league wide to be one of those rare tight ends a defense can only hope to contain, as there’s just about no way to stop him from contributing completely. Contain Kittle is exactly what White and his teammates did, holding the star player to just 54-yards on eight receptions (6.8 ypc).

Some of the Buccaneers’ rookie class were inactive, so Scotty Miller and Zach Bailey will have to wait for at least one more week before getting their first regular season action in their careers.

Jamel Dean, Mike Edwards and Sean Murphy-Bunting were all active to start their careers and were part of a secondary which held Jimmy Garoppolo to 166-yards passing and a final quarterback rating of 80.2.

Overall, a good start for the young secondary who saw their most tenured member of the Buccaneers secondary take the team’s lone interception back for an early touchdown which helped get Tampa Bay off to an early lead which they carried into the half.

Unit success is always a positive, but each player will be looking to make some notches in the stat columns come Week 2 as none of the three registered a tackle, while Edwards came through with one pass defended in his return from injury after missing much of the preseason.

Outside linebacker Anthony Nelson was also active, but appeared on just 21 defensive snaps and failed to register any statistical data.

Finally, rookie kicker Matt Gay got his first opportunity to kick for points that matter in front of the home crowd and made his lone 31-yard try to go along with two extra points tried and made.

Some were disappointed with the lack of ‘splash’ plays from first-round draft pick Devin White, but overall the rookie class graded out pretty well in their first chance to contribute for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.



NFL: Preseason-Los Angeles Chargers at San Francisco 49ers Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Bosa joined an already pretty well equipped defensive line when the San Francisco 49ers drafted him this past April. Still, he found a way to chip in as he was one of three defensive linemen to get to Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston for sacks in their Week 1 win on the road.

Bosa chipped in with a total of three tackles and had three hits on Winston for the day, accounting for half of the hits San Francisco got on the Winston during the game.

The rookie from Ohio State was held back during the preseason and training camp due to injury, but was able to participate in over 50% of the defense’s snaps to start the year.

Considering he played fewer than 40 snaps out of a possible 70 and still notched a sack and three hits on the quarterback, it’s clear this is one rookie who certainly has the ability to reach the ceiling many envisioned for him coming into the NFL Draft.

Fellow defensive rookies Azeez Al-Shaair and Dre Greenlaw also contributed to the team victory as Al-Shaair finished with two special teams tackles and Greenlaw pitched in four tackles while appearing on 80% of the 49ers’ defensive reps.

Rookie offensive lineman Justin Skule played just two snaps, but I’m sure he feels good after coming away with a win and his first playing time on a regular season NFL field.

Two rookies were inactive on the offensive side of the ball, meaning wide receiver Jalen Hurd and tight end Kaden Smith will look down the road a bit before getting their first taste of full speed playing time.

Outside of Bosa, most Bucs fans would have likely been aware of wide receiver Deebo Samuel as the South Carolina product was viewed to some as a potential target for the Buccaneers leading up to the draft.

In his first live NFL action, Samuel turned in three catches on three targets from Garoppolo, netting 17-yards and was credited with the fumble near the end of the half that ultimately cost the 49ers a chance at grabbing a halftime lead.

For a team whose wide receiver situation is far from cemented, his 60 snaps on offense outnumbered fellow position players like Marquise Goodwin (50), Richie James Jr. (26) and Dante Pettis who played just two snaps in Week 1 as he continues to recover from a groin injury suffered in August.

Both teams have rookies playing in key roles and playing crucial snaps as they each look to improve on unacceptable 2018 campaigns.

For the week, the San Francisco 49ers group will surely enter Week 2 the happier of the two classes, but each team had positives to build on from their new additions. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a quick turnaround for all of their players as they travel to Charlotte this Wednesday to face the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football. Meanwhile, the 49ers stay on the road to face the Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) on Sunday afternoon.