Game snapshot: 49ers vs. Buccaneers

Taking an inside look at the 49ers and Buccaneers and Sunday's game between the two teams at Monster Park in San Francisco.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:15 Pacific


TV: FOX, Craig Shermon, Dale Hellestrae

SERIES: 18th meeting. 49ers lead the series 13-4, but the Bucs have won three of the last four meetings. Tampa Bay's only road win was a 24-23 victory at Candlestick Park in 1980.

2005 NFL RANKINGS: Bucs: offense 19th (5th rush, 23rd pass); defense 1st (1st rush, 7th pass). 49ers: offense 31st (23rd rush, 29th pass); defense 32nd (24th rush, 32nd pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Because their defense lacks talent to match up against opponents man to man, the 49ers must take gambles. Look for them to stack up with eight men to stop the run early and attempt to put the pressure on Bucs QB Chris Simms making his first start of the season in place of injured Brian Griese. It's a dicey risk, however, considering Simms has a stronger arm and opposing quarterbacks have a 110.0 passer rating against San Francisco. The 49ers will start Ken Dorsey at quarterback with rookie Alex Smith slowed by a sprained knee. Tampa Bay has the league's top-rated run defense, but San Francisco must get production from RBs Kevan Barlow and Frank Gore to give Dorsey a fighting chance. The 49ers aren't great in pass protection and have no game-changing receivers, so Dorsey needs manageable passing situations in which to work.

FAST FACTS: Bucs: Simms has fewer NFL starts (two) than backup Luke McCown (four). ... WR Joey Galloway needs two more receptions to reach the 500-catch plateau for his career. 49ers: Lead the series 13-4, but Bucs have won three of the past four meetings. ... Are 9-1 at home against the Bucs.



--- RB Cadillac Williams (foot) took most of the reps as the Bucs' starting tailback Thursday but is still listed as questionable for Sunday's game. Bucs officials expect him to play.

--- S Jermaine Phillips practiced again Thursday after recovering from a broken thumb and is probable for Sunday. "(The bye week) came at a good time," Phillips said. "I get a good four weeks under my belt and we're going to be good going to San Francisco."

--- S Dexter Jackson is out with a hamstring train.

--- DB Torrie Cox will continue to handle the kickoff return duties against the 49ers. Cox is averaging just 17.3 yards per return.

--- CB Ronde Barber needs one sack to become the first cornerback to record at least 20 interceptions and 20 sacks in a career.


--- S Ben Emanuel, who was signed just last week, saw a lot of action last week as a dime linebacker. He recorded two tackles in the loss to the Redskins. His job consists of covering the tight ends or a backs on the short zones. He will continue in that role this week against the Buccaneers.

--- LT Jonas Jennings, who has a torn right labrum in his shoulder, will not play this week against the Buccaneers. It will be the fourth straight game he's missed with the injury, which will require surgery whenever he decides his season is over.

--- WR Brandon Lloyd missed practice Thursday with soreness in his back and hip flexor but returned Friday. Coach Mike Nolan said he fully expects Lloyd to be available for Sunday's game.

--- WR Arnaz Battle, whom the 49ers hoped would be available to return to action, will not play Sunday due to a right knee sprain. Battle has not played a full game since his Sept. 25 injury.

--- QB Alex Smith will miss at least one game with a right knee sprain. He sustained a second-degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament. Coach Mike Nolan said it is possible he could miss more than one game.



RB Michael Pittman, who is coming off a 127-yard rushing performance against the Dolphins two weeks ago, hopes he is not an afterthought in the Bucs offense if Cadillac Williams returns.

"I hope so. Really, I hope so. But I'll leave that up to (coach Jon) Gruden," Pittman said. "If I'm not (involved), I never complain about that. When I get my opportunity, I'm going to make the most of it. But being honest and truthful, of course I want to be involved. I think I can make plays in the running game, make plays in the passing game. Use me any kind of way. As long as I get my hands on the ball, I'll be happy. But if not, if Cadillac is the main guy, I'll go with that, too, man, and wait for my opportunities to play."

While Williams was setting an NFL record with 434 rushing yards in his first three games as a pro, Pittman rarely saw the football. In the four games that Williams played before being sidelined by the injury, Pittman carried just 13 times for 79 yards.

"The first three games, I barely touched the ball at all, man," Pittman said. "And getting to start a home game, I was just fired up and ready to go. I really don't consider myself as a backup. Even though I am a backup, I consider myself as a starter in this league, and if Cadillac goes down, I'm already prepared to step up and have a big game. And the confidence I have now, and with my confidence, I think all my talent is finally showing."


Dorsey, who was the No. 3 quarterback just 10 days ago, will make his eighth career start and see his first action of the season against the Buccaneers.

Dorsey was behind Smith and Tim Rattay on the depth chart, but Rattay was dealt to the Buccaneers last week in a trade for a sixth-round draft pick.

Nolan said he does not have a lot of high expectations for Dorsey's play against the Buccaneers.

"He looked good - he did a good job," Nolan said of Dorsey's practice performance this week. "I don't want to get my hopes too high, but he did a nice job. We'll see how it goes. I'm saving my optimism for other things."

Even with that admission, Nolan admitted that the 49ers probably have a better chance of winning right now with Dorsey than with Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Smith has struggled in his two starts, compiling a passer rating of 17.5.

Dorsey has not thrown a pass this season, but compiled a 1-6 record in seven starts last season in place of Tim Rattay. Dorsey completed 54.4 percent of his passes (123 of 226) for 1,231 yards with six touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Dorsey said he has gained about 10 pounds from last year and worked with offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy and quarterbacks coach Jim Hostler on his mechanics in the spring.

"I did a lot of working on it in the off-season," Dorsey said. "It's something I feel saved my career, really. It's something that has improved my accuracy on the ball and my velocity on the ball."

Dorsey said in the past he was throwing across his body. He has also developed a higher release point and is "finishing through my target," he said. Dorsey said he now has confidence that he can make all the throws.

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