The 100thseason of the National Football League kicks off this weekend with a slate of enticing matchups. The San Francisco 49ers will start their 2019 campaign on Sunday as they head to Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Following a disappointing season in which the Niners went 4-12, third year head coach Kyle Shanahan is looking to help lead the team to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
49ers star quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is back after tearing his ACL last season. The pressure is on this season for Garoppolo, after signing a five-year, $137.5 million extension following the 2017 season. Though he is fully healthy, there are many question marks regarding Garoppolo on whether he can stay healthy for a full season. “There are mental hurdles, physical hurdles that both of them you’re trying to balance them and at the same time not think about them too much,” Garoppolo said.
One thing that will make lifer easier for Garoppolo is that he will be reunited with the team’s top offensive weapon, tight end George Kittle. Last season Kittle’s production took off as he caught 88 balls for 1,377 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns. Kittle will be a big part of the Niners offense this year, and play a huge factor in how many games the team can win this season.
The 49ers defense will look to start the season on a high note as they will be implementing some of their new pieces. Linebacker Kwon Alexander will make his debut in the red and gold against his former team. Also, second overall draft selection Nick Bosa will look to make an impact in his NFL debut as he adds to an already impressive defensive line.
The Buccaneers come into the 2019 with new head coach Bruce Arians, who the 49ers are very familiar with as he used to coach the Arizona Cardinals. Jameis Winston is looking to prove that he is a capable NFL quarterback, as this year is probably his last opportunity to do so.
The two teams met in week 12 of last season in which the Buccaneers won 27-9. Tune into the 49ers season opener this Sunday at 3:25 Central on FOX.
Written by Ryan Liedel
Follow him on Twitter, @RyanLiedel