After 23 years in the NFL, there isn’t a whole lot that Tom Brady hasn’t seen or done. However, there are those rare things that Brady has only had the opportunity to do once or twice and playing in his childhood backyard is one of those things. For just the second time in his NFL career, Brady will be playing in the city of San Francisco - the team he grew up watching, rooting for, and dreaming of playing for one day. Now, for probably the second and final time, Brady will play a game there. No, it’s not Candlestick Park, but the feeling is still going to be the same.
After an improbable come-from-behind victory over the New Orleans Saints on Monday night, the Bucs are flying across the country on a short week to take on one of the best defenses in the NFL. In fact, the 49ers have the number one overall defense (283.9 yards per game) and the number one scoring defense (15.8 points per game) in the league. As crazy as it might sound, that might give an advantage to Brady.
Brady, when facing the number one overall and number one scoring defense after week five, is 7-0. While that’s a very strange stat, it simply adds to the mystique that is Brady. Even when the chips are stacked against him, he finds a way to win.
For the Bucs, they’ll need whatever they can get on their side - and if that is some weird, obscure stat then so be it. Mike Edwards and Antoine Winfield Jr. are both serious question marks for Sunday having missed practice Wednesday and Thursday.
On the flip side, the 49ers will be trotting out Brock Purdy after having Jimmy Garoppolo suffer a foot injury last week against the Dolphins. The 49ers also signed former Buccaneers quarterback Josh Johnson to provide a backup for “Mr. Irrelevant” in this one. When a quarterback makes his first career start against Tom Brady, Brady is 6-0.
Again, weird and obscure stats can provide some optimism for this one.
The Bucs’ defense is still the side of the ball keeping Tampa Bay alive in these games, ranking 8th in total defense (313.8 yards/game), 7th in passing defense (195.3 yards/game), 18th in rushing defense (118.4 yards/game), and 5th in scoring (18.3 points/game).
They’ll face a familiar foe in former Carolina Panther Christian McCaffrey, who was traded to San Francisco just a few days before the Bucs’ game against the Panthers so this will be the first time they see him this year. McCaffrey has 354 rushing yards, 272 receiving yards, and seven total touchdowns in seven career games against the Bucs. His last game against the Bucs came in week two of 2020 where he rushed for 59 yards and two touchdowns and he hasn’t had a 100 yard day against the Bucs since week twelve of 2018.
The 49ers lead the all-time series 18-7 and have won three of the last five, including their most recent meeting in week one of 2019. The longest streak of the two teams’ history is nine straight wins by the Niners from 1983-1994. Of those 25 matchups, 15 have been in San Francisco where the Niners are 12-3.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the 49ers are 3.5-point home favorites with an over/under of 37. Seven of the last eight Bucs games have hit the under while Tampa Bay hasn’t covered the spread in eight of their last nine. The Niners, meanwhile, have won nine of their last ten at Levi’s Stadium.
The Bucs and 49ers kickoff in Levi’s Stadium at 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX. Kevin Burkhardt, Gerg Olsen, Erin Andrews, and Tom Rinaldi will be on the call for FOX’s America’s Game of the Week.