49ers-Bucs: Matchups to watch

49ers-Bucs: Matchups to watch
October 7, 2011, 7:07 pm
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In his first season as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' starting quarterback, Josh Freeman was outstanding.He led the Bucs to a 10-6 record, including a 21-0 thrashing of the 49ers in late-November. Now, Tampa Bay returns to Candlestick Park to face the 49ers in a matchup of 3-1 teams.49ers FS Dashon Goldson (38) vs. Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman (5)Tale of the tape
Goldson: 6-2, 200, Washington, 5th season
Freeman: 6-6, 248, Kansas State, 3rd seasonFreeman threw 25 touchdown passes and just six interceptions a year ago. His passer rating was 95.9. He quickly emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the league.
But while the Bucs have gotten off to another good start, Freeman has already committed some mistakes this season that he did not make a year ago.Freeman has already thrown four interceptions (to go along with just three touchdown passes) and three of those interceptions were in the end zone.So this is where Goldson comes in.Strong safety Donte Whitner is expected to return to the starting lineup this week after missing the better part of two games with a left hip contusion. That should free up Goldson to patrol the secondary to sit back in center field and read Freeman's eyes.Goldson has played two games since returning from a knee injury in the exhibition season. He had an outstanding game against the Philadelphia Eagles as a tackler. And he recorded the fumble recovery after Justin Smith's forced fumble of Jeremy Maclin that helped clinch the win."He's getting better each and every week," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said of Goldson. "He came into camp late, had about 10 days of work and then got hurt, and that always sets you back."Now he's played a couple games in a row and I expect him to keep improving, and hopefully he will. He had some good plays last week and we need to have good plays out of our safety"The guy who's nickname is "The Hawk," might have some opportunities to get his hands on the ball. The 49ers tied for first in the NFL with a takeawaygiveaway margin of plus-8, along with the Detroit Lions. Turnovers are likely, as always, to play a huge part in this game.
Other matchups worth watching
49ers right tackle Anthony Davis (76) vs. Bucs left defensive end Michael Bennett (71): Davis is coming off a rough game against the Eagles' Jason Babin, who picked up three sacks all off the right side of the 49ers' offensive line. Bennett has two sacks on the season, and Davis must have a strong game in pass protection to show he can bounce back. Davis has typically played much better at Candlestick Park than on the road. Davis will also be asked to control Bennett, as the 49ers look to unleash Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter in the run game.
49ers nose tackle Ricky Jean Francois (95) vs. Bucs center Jeff Faine (52): Jean Francois takes over for Isaac Sopoaga, who will miss Sunday's game with a staph infection. He makes his first career start against a nine-year pro who has more than 100 career starts. Jean Francois' main duty will be to hold the point of attack against Faine. If he can keep Faine from getting to the second level to block inside linebackers Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman, then the 49ers' defense should be able to keep running back LeGarrette Blount in check. In passing situations, Jean Francois will exit when the nickel defense takes to the field.