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49ers Continue To Struggle in the Red Zone in Win Over Bucs
Colin Kaepernick @49ers

49ers Continue To Struggle in the Red Zone in Win Over Bucs

On paper, it looked like the San Francisco 49ers destroyed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 33-14.  Colin Kaepernick appeared to play great, throwing for 203 yards, two touchdowns, and running for another 39 yards.  Michael Crabtree scored his first touchdown of the season, a welcome sign for a team that only had Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin contributing in the passing game.  But this game was very much in doubt because of the 49ers’ inability to score touchdowns in the red zone.


The 49ers were 1 for 4 in the red zone, settling for a Crabtree touchdown and three Phil Dawson field goals.  The 49ers are barely over 50% in the red zone for the season, a puzzling statistic considering they have one the best running backs in the game, Frank Gore, a mobile quarterback, Colin Kaepernick and two quality receivers, Boldin and Davis.  Crabtree should help in this area as well but in the last two games, the 49ers have settled for eight field goals.  This is great for Dawson but the 49ers need to score more touchdowns, especially with the postseason coming in the near future.


This game was a one-possession game early in the 4th quarter against the inferior Buccaneers team, 20-14.  The 49ers did not put the Bucs away until after Dawson’s third field goal and then the Buccaneers, inexplicably, ran a reverse on the kickoff.  Eric Page fumbled, Kendall Hunter recovered and dove into the endzone to put the 49ers up 30-14.  The only reason the 49ers dominated this game is because their defense and special teams were so stout.


The defense had four sacks and an interception, led by Aldon Smith.  The special teams were just as good, kicking four field goals and forcing a fumble, resulting in a touchdown.  The 49ers red zone offense was the problem on Sunday and has been a problem all season.  The 49ers have shown no creativity in the red zone, usually running power with Frank Gore and throwing slants to their receivers.  You never see Kaepernick running play-action or even designed runs, something he excels at in the red zone.


Many people have pointed out that the 49ers did not have the weapons earlier in the season for Kaepernick to excel, but with all of his weapons back, the 49ers continue to struggle in the red zone.  Only Crabtree has contributed in the passing game with Boldin and Davis whereas Mario Manningham has been a ghost in this offense.


This is a huge problem for the 49ers heading into the playoffs and it won’t get any easier, losing fullback Bruce Miller for a season due to a broken scapula.  Miller is Gore’s lead blocker and is one of the main reasons why Gore has had such a successful year.  Losing Miller is a considerable loss and will force the 49ers to use more creativity on offense.  More creativity will definitely help them in the red zone, which will be welcomed by all 49er fans.

Follow me on Twitter: Michael Shultz @shultzreport

About Michael Shultz

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Michael Shultz is a writer for baysportsreport.com and is a huge A's, 49ers and Warriors fan. He is currently a 49ers contributor and looking to become a sports writer in the future. You can follow him on Twitter @shultzreport and comments are appreciated.


  1. The best way to beat the ‘9ers is to let them inside your 20 yard line. Miller is now out and Tupali (sp?) their left pulling guard is also out and their left tackle is nicked.

    The reason they lost the SB last year was because they could not score TDs from inside the 20. They were stopped, if memory serves, on the 8, the 9, and the 5 by Baltimore. They have the same problem this year as last, field goals. People are making much of their current winning streak … look at the teams they played … yes, you will point to Seattle but Seattle had them till Gore broke it for 51 late in the game … yes, the ‘9ers won but IF they play Seattle again it will be in Seattle. I expect a good game from SF up in Seattle this time but the outcome will be the same, the home team wins when these two teams play.

    SF has peaked. Gore will be 31 next year, the entire team is getting older, Harbaugh the Elder showed the league how to defend Harbaugh the younger (who has no clue once he’s inside the 20. Adequate QB as a player, adequate play caller as a coach.)

  2. Tupati and Miller are critical to Gore’s success. Both take you to where Gore will be … especially Miller. Read the FB find Gore. Follow the pulling guard, find Gore. That’s how it works. No speed at wide-out and Kaep does not go through his progressions which is why he ends up running so much. Don’t get me wrong, they are a good team but I am not as enamored of them as everyone else is around here with their Gold and Red tinted glasses.

    Two interesting stats: 1. Only twice in the 47 year history of the Sb has the team who lost made it back the next year and won. Dallas in VI and Miami in VII. So, it has not happened in 40 and will not happen this year either. Sorry SF. That is 4.25% of the time.

    2. No QB who has won the SB moved to another team and won it with that team. So, Denver is also out. Sorry.

  3. Profile photo of C. A. Harrington Jr.

    I agree to an extent. Can Kaepernick and the 49ers perform better in the Redzone? Sure. Nevertheless, they rank 11th in The League and that’s with playing most of the year without all 11 starters. Furthermore, Kaepernick’s QBR is 94.2 ranking him 14th in the NFL. Again, this is without playing with all 11 starters for most of the season. More so, the last 3 games have been against 3 very strong and active defenses (Rams, Seahawks and Buccaneers). The Niners are slightly better than last year. I’m sure those number will increase slightly for the duration of the season. If not, I’m sure they’ll continue to be thankful for Phil Dawson.

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