Niners game plan

Game plan, matchups to watch and injury impact for the 49ers in Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco's Monster Park:


Because of their lack of talent on both sides of the ball, the 49ers' coaching staff has an unbelievably difficult task. How do you keep this team competitive against superior teams? The 49ers catch a break because Tampa Bay will start backup quarterback Chris Simms, who has attempted just 10 passes this season. Although the 49ers have the worst pass defense in the league, they are almost in a situation where they have to make the Bucs beat them with their passing attack. Tampa Bay running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams is listed as questionable for the game, which means Michael Pittman might start. The 49ers have been decent against the run, so they'll probably try to play a lot of eight men in the box to challenge Simms and the Buccaneers to throw the ball. The big question is whether they can then do anything to slow down the pass. Opposing quarterbacks have compiled a 110.0 passer rating. Offensively, the 49ers will start backup Ken Dorsey at quarterback with rookie Alex Smith nursing strained knee ligaments. Dorsey started seven games last season and said he's much more prepared this season to play solid football. The 49ers must get some production out of running backs Kevan Barlow and Frank Gore because they have a better chance of gaining consistency in that facet of their game than with a passing attack that lacks an efficient quarterback or a reliable pass target.


--- 49ers CB Shawntae Spencer, who had some problems last week against the Redskins with some mental mistakes in coverage, vs. Buccaneers WR Joey Galloway, who leads the team with 31 catches for 499 yards and four touchdowns.

--- FS Mike Adams, who is making strides in his first season as a starter, vs. QB Chris Simms, who takes over as the starter after the season-ending injury to Brian Griese.

--- LT Anthony Clement, who has struggled but is likely to remain as the starter this week due to Jonas Jennings' injury, vs. RDE Simeon Rice, who leads the Bucs with five sacks.

--- WR Brandon Lloyd, who has produced some big plays but also has a tendency to disappear for long stretches of time, vs. CB Brian Kelly, the team leader with three interceptions.


QB Alex Smith (right knee) did not practice this week Wednesday and remains listed as questionable for Sunday's game. Backup Ken Dorsey would take over behind center in Smith's place. ... LB Saleem Rasheed is expected to miss up to another month after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus cartilage. ... LT Jonas Jennings has shown some improvement after sustaining a torn labrum in his right shoulder, but he is doubtful to play this week and will require major surgery whenever he decides to end his season. ... WR Arnaz Battle has a slight chance to return to action against the Buccaneers, but he didn't practice all week because of a sprained right knee ligament that has kept him out of two of San Francisco's past three games. ... Center Jeremy Newberry didn't practice this week but should start Sunday. He is hobbled by a chronic knee problem. ... WR Otis Amey, who missed last week's game with a high ankle sprain, is doubtful to return this week. ... CB Ahmed Plummer is expected to miss at least three more games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle. ... T Patrick Estes, a rookie reserve, is listed as probable with an ankle sprain after missing last week's game. ... WR Derrick Hamilton is still on PUP after sustaining a torn ACL in the off-season. He is not expected to play this season. ... LB Jeff Ulbrich (left biceps), CB Mike Rumph (foot), TE Eric Johnson (foot) and WR Rashaun Woods (thumb) are on injured reserve.

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