Pair of Bucs stay behind, 11:59 p.m.
The Bucs have announced that DE Patrick Chukwurah and FB B.J. Askew did not make the trip to San Francisco. So expect to see Byron Storer make his second NFL start on Sunday against the 49ers in Askew's place. The Bucs have got to hope Askew's ankle reacts to treatment before the playoffs or that's going to be a big loss.
The last word, 6:22 p.m.
With two games remaining and a playoff berth already sewn up, there's a tendency to believe the Buccaneers might let up. Bucs head coach Jon Gruden answered that question on Friday before the Bucs stepped on the plane to head to San Francisco.
"We've got a lot of businessmen here," Gruden said. "They know when the horn blows what to do. I think the big thing is you have to understand we are in the playoffs; we do have a home game. We don't know who we're playing, and we have two ballgames. Whether we choose to look at some guys, look at some different things, we'll see. But no, I've seen the guys go about their business as they always have."
Injury update, 6:15 p.m.
Here is the final injury report for Sunday's game:
BUCCANEERS: Doubtful — DE Patrick Chukwurah (hamstring). Questionable — FB B.J. Askew (ankle), LB Ryan Nece (groin); Probable — RB Michael Pittman (ankle), DE Greg Spires (calf). 49ers: Out — QB Trent Dilfer (concussion); Questionable — CB Marcus Hudson (knee), RB Michael Robinson (shoulder), CB Shawntea Spencer (quad); Probable — WR Arnaz Battle (ankle), RB Frank Gore (ankle), LB Roderick Green (illness), LB Jeff Ulbrich (ankle).
I would not expect Chukwurah to play, as he hasn't practiced all week. Nece and Askew are 50-50. Pittman and Spires should play.
Going back to Cali, 10:05 a.m.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 2-22 in California lifetime (3-25 if you count their work in Seattle).
I asked Jon Gruden if they planned to do anything different this time around, but he appeared to be out to treat the trip like any other. He and the team will leave this afternoon for San Francisco, have a walkthrough at Monster Park on Saturday and have the usual team meetings on Saturday night. It's a 1 p.m. game (San Francisco time), so Gruden just has to hope his team can get acclimated in time.
"I think we have a better team this time around," Gruden said, who is well aware of the team's futility out west.
Actually, C John Wade told me that there isn't much time for adjustments on a trip like that.
"You get off the plane, you play and you come home," Wade said. "There's no time to get acclimated. Actually, coming back to the east coast is the hard part."
At Bucsblitz.com, 10 a.m.
Today you can read about the offensive line and its rise to prominence this season. Not nationally, mind you, but in the Bucs' locker room. Everyone sees the fine work this young line has done this season. How is it happening? Find out in this free feature.
Also, check out our "Behind Enemy Lines" feature. Today you can read Part 1, as sfillustrated.com's Craig Massei answers my questions about the 49ers. My answer to his questions about the Buccaneers will come later today. It's an exclusive Q&A between writers that you can only get in this premium feature.
Relief in Kelly's presence, 9:47 a.m.
Even though Phillip Buchanon's great play this season has softened the blow of Brian Kelly's early-season injury woes, just about all the Buccaneers agree they're thrilled Kelly is around for the playoff push. Why? Find out in this article at heraldtribune.com.
A lesson in futility, 9:38 a.m.
Tampa Tribune writers Joey Johnston and Martin Fennelly have been around long enough to know about the Bucs' futility on the West coast (2-22 in California, 3-25 when you include Seattle). This article outlines the Bucs' heartbreak at Candlestick/3Com/Monster Park. It's bad memories either way. To read more, go to TBO.com.
The Bucs still haven't …, 9:29 a.m.
St. Pete Times writer Tom Jones always tries to point out the odder or lighter sports nuggets, and his work in this article is no different. Today he points out what the Bucs still have left to accomplish as a franchise in the wake of Micheal Spurlock's historic kickoff return. Find out more at Tampabay.com.