When we previewed this game, we thought the Bucs might be a little flat for the 49ers game. Coming off the short week on Monday Night Football and having to travel cross coutnry, one could expect the Bucs not to be at their best. What we saw on Sunday was just an embarrassment.
I'm not sure what we learned from the game other than the Bucs can't mail it in on the road against a good team. I can also add there will be no Under Further Review feature this week because frankly, you'd need to pay me some big time dollars to watch that monstrosity again.
Typically in this space we talk about 10 things we learned. Unfortunately, when you get beat 48-3, you don't learn much.
But here are five things we think we may have gleaned from the Bucs' Waterloo:
1. Josh Freeman is seriously struggling with his decision making and staring down his targets.
With two more interceptions, Josh Freeman has equaled his 2010 season total for interceptions with six in just five games. The problem? He's not throwing touchdown passes or leading his team to scores. We're not sure if Freeman is feeling overconfident, staring down receivers, he's not understanding the coverages he's facing or he's simply not seeing the field - whatever it is, he's not the same quarterback he was last season.
For all the hype Freeman has been getting, and deservedly so, one has to question his play this season when he's been outplayed by the likes of Alex Smith.
Smith had as many touchdown passes in three quarters of play as Freeman has had all season.
We're not saying Freeman is a bad quarterback. There's a reason he's the FREE-chise. However, the Bucs expect more from him. We expect more from him. He needs to protect the football, move the chains and be the Josh Freeman who led his ragtag band of pirates to 10 victories last season.
2. What is the real Bucs run defense?
At this point, the only thing you can say we learned is that the Buccaneers are maddeningly inconsistent in run defense. The first two weeks - they looked like the same run defense that has been near the bottom of the NFL standings in run defense. The past two weeks, they seemed to have that problem solved with tremendous performances against premiere runners Michael Turner and Joseph Addai.
This week, they're back to surrendering yardage in the running game as a banged up Frank Gore ran wild, posting 125 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown. They surrendered 216 yards on the day.
3. LeGarrette Blount can be a weapon in the passing game.
We know how much of a dynamic open field runner he can be but we've learned over the past couple of games that LeGarrette Blount has some soft, sure hands and can get some big time yardage after the catch. The Bucs need to get him the football more often.
4. The Buccaneers defensive backs can't cover or catch.
A week after dropping three picks and surrendering two touchdown passes to nobody QB Curtis Painter, the Buccaneers secondary gave up three touchdown passes and dropped two sure ints against the Niners' Alex Smith.
Coming into the season, we thought the Bucs had a solid secondary led by playmakers in Aquib Talib and Ronde Barber. Lately, Ronde has looked old and slow, Aquib Talib has looked overrated and the rest of the guys in secondary haven't been able to prove they are NFL quality defensive backs.
What's disappointing is we believed the Bucs would be better in the back end thanks to their improved pass rush.
That hasn't happened.
5. It's not the first time the Bucs played terribly in California.
In 1999, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went out to the west coast and got obliterated by the Oakland Raiders 45-0. That team went on to play the greatest show on turf in the NFC Championship game.
This was the type of game where you look at it once, understand where you screwed up, then burn the film, never to watch it again.
This isn't the Buccaneers. They know that. There are certainly concerns that have to be addressed - like Josh's staring down of receivers and decision making. The secondary turning into swiss cheese and the defensive line getting beat at the line of scrimmage.
It was want to. The Niners wanted to prove that their 3-1 record was legitimate. The Bucs didn't seem to want to be there and they certainly weren't ready to play football. For one week, they weren't mentally strong enough to compete in the NFL.
You only get 16 shots at this thing and the Buccaneers gift wrapped one for the Niners with indifference.
So forget this one, focus your gaze to New Orleans.