Hill Efficient As 49ers Squash Late Bucs Rally, Win 21-19

        San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore jumps into the stands after a 23-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter of their NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.  San Francisco beat Tampa Bay 21-19.

San Francisco, playoff hopes lost a long time ago, actually had a reason to finish the season on a positive note.  Two, actually: momentum to carry into next season and the retirement of defensive end Bryant Young.  The 49ers managed to hold off a late Buccaneers rally late in the fourth quarter, winning a tight one at San Francisco Sunday 21-19.  But back to Young for just a minute.  This, the final home game for San Francisco, got emotional as there was a pregame ceremony for Young, honoring his time with the team, including the 49ers last championship.

The first quarter was inconsequential as Buccaneers’ kicker Matt Bryant connected on a pair of field goals, a 34-yarder and 22-yarder. Tampa Bay extended their lead to 13-7 shortly before halftime when the 49ers’ Vernon Davis fumbled the ball, setting up Bucs QB Jeff Garcia’s 24-yard touchdown pass to TE Jerramy Stevens. San Francisco would recover an onside kick to begin the second half; moments later, 49ers rookie linebacker Patrick Willis forced Bucs QB Luke McCown to fumble the ball, setting up Davis’ go-ahead TD catch.

Early in the 4th quarter, after an interception by San Francisco cornerback Nate Clements, Gore would hit paydirt on a 24-yard pass by 49ers QB Shaun Hill, giving San Francisco a 21-13 advantage. The Bucs’ McCown would rally his team late on a 61-yard drive in 85 seconds; capped by a TD pass to Stevens. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, the 2-point conversion failed as WR Michael Clayton couldn’t keep both feet inbounds.

Shaun Hill had an “efficient” outing, going 11-of-24 for 123 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception. Gore led all 49ers rushers with 89 yards on 21 carries; he also led San Francisco in receiving as well, catching 4 balls for 43 yards and a score. The Buccaneers did exceedingly well in the passing game; Garcia went 12-of-20 for 196 yards and a score, while McCown was 18-of-32 for 185 yards with a TD and an INT.

Tampa Bay’s rushing, on the other hand, was anemic with Earnest Graham leading the Bucs with 21 rushing yards. The Bucs’ leading receiver was TE Alex Smith with 79 yards on 7 receptions, while Stevens added 73 yards and 2 scores. San Francisco (5-10) look to finish their season on a positive note when they fly east to take on the Cleveland Browns next Sunday, while Tampa Bay (9-6) flies home for their season finale, hosting the Carolina Panthers.

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