5 things to know after 49ers rip Bucs 33-14

Colin Kaepernick moved the San Francisco 49ers closer to a

playoff berth with perhaps his best performance of the season.

The defending NFC champions beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 33-14

for their fourth straight victory Sunday, with their third-year

quarterback controlling the game with his feet as well as his

arm.

Kaepernick threw for 203 yards and two touchdowns without an

interception. He also rushed for 39 yards, with his two biggest

runs coming on third down, when the 49ers needed them most.

”Kap had a monster game,” coach Jim Harbaugh said. ”… Some

of those escapes from the pocket with guys grabbing at him – the

shoulders, the legs; he’s kicking out of tackles and picking up

first downs, three, four, five times in the game. And then some

incredible out-of-the-pocket throws and first-down

conversions.”

Kaepernick’s inconsistency has been an issue this season,

however he protected the football and made play after play against

the Bucs (4-10), who trailed 20-14 before San Francisco (10-4) put

together a long, clock-exhausting, fourth-quarter drive that doused

any hopes Tampa Bay had of pulling an upset.

”That’s Kap. He can do whatever. He can throw, he can run,”

running back Frank Gore said. ”A lot of guys in the league can’t

do that. Once it’s said and done, he will be one of the top

quarterbacks in this league.”

Vernon Davis caught a touchdown pass for the fifth straight

game, Michael Crabtree scored his first TD since returning from an

injury that sidelined him the first 11 games, and Phil Dawson

kicked four more field goals to extend his franchise-record streak

of consecutive successful attempts to 24.

Kaepernick completed 19 of 29 passes without an interception. He

kept alive a 17-play, 77-yard drive with a 12-yard pass to Crabtree

on third-and-12, then scrambled for 10 yards on third-and-6 for a

first down at the Bucs 19. When the 10-minute, 27-second drive

stalled at the 3, the 49ers settled for a 21-yard field goal that

put them up 23-14.

”You want to take time off the clock when you can, especially

in that situation,” Kaepernick said. ”Our offensive line did an

amazing job, and our receivers and backs made plays.”

Kendall Hunter put the game out of reach, scooping up a fumble

on the ensuing kickoff and diving 2 yards into the end zone for a

touchdown.

Five reasons the 49ers appear to be hitting their stride at the

right time, while the Bucs came up short again against one of the

league’s better teams:

CLOSE BUT … The Bucs closed within 20-14 on rookie Mike

Glennon’s TD pass to Tim Wright on the first play of the fourth

quarter, but they didn’t get the ball back until just 4:31

remained. Even then, they couldn’t keep it, losing the fumble on

the kickoff that sealed their fate.

Glennon finished 18 of 34 for 179 yards, two TDs and an

interception. He threw TD passes of 11 yards to Vincent Jackson and

24 yards to Wright, but Tampa Bay was held to 39 yards rushing and

a season-low 183 total net yards.

”Going against one of the top defenses in the league, as an

offense we knew we were going to have to get the game into the

fourth quarter, and we did that,” Glennon said. ”Going against

that kind of team, you have to be on the top of your game

throughout the course of the game. Give them some credit. That was

a great job by them in the fourth quarter.”

DEPENDABLE GORE: Frank Gore rushed for 86 yards to go over 1,000

in a season for the seventh time. He carried 22 times, hiking his

season rushing total to 1,017 yards.

”It’s a blessing. Ninth year in the league. Every year I hear

the doubters, you know, `Can you still do it?”’ Gore said. ”I

take it one year at a time. My coaches still believe in me. This

organization still believes in me.”

YOU THROW IT, WE’LL CATCH IT: Davis had five receptions for 79

yards. Crabtree had five for 45 yards in his third game back from a

torn right Achilles tendon.

A scrambling Kaepernick missed Davis on a potential deep

touchdown pass early in the game, but was on target on the 52-yard

connection that made it 17-0 late in the second quarter.

”It was a heck of a throw. We had really good protection on the

play,” Harbaugh said. ”But the way Vernon extended and ran that

ball down, it looked like Willie Mays running down a long fly ball

to center field.”

STINGY `D’: In addition to limiting the Bucs to a season low for

total yardage, the 49ers had four sacks and intercepted Glennon’s

last pass of the day.

WHERE DO WE STAND? The Bucs had won four of their previous five

games following an 0-8 start. They’re still looking for a signature

win, though. It’s anybody’s guess what Sunday’s double-digit loss

means to the chances of coach Greg Schiano retaining his job.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org