One week after an emotional, hard-fought, 19-17 win over the Seattle Seahawks, the San Francisco 49ers traveled to Tampa Bay to take on the suddenly surging Buccaneers, who had won four of five.
It would have been understandable if the 49ers had a letdown – or if they at least got off to a sluggish start.
Instead, the 49ers dominated, racing out to a 17-0 lead and eventually winning 33-14.
“It wasn’t hard at all,” 49ers All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis said on The Doug Gottlieb Show, referring to his team’s ability to travel across the country and still perform at a high level. “We understood what we need to do as a football team. We understood the only thing that matters was winning. I think each guy knew that, and that’s the mindset we took going down there.”
Colin Kaepernick played well, finishing 19-of-29 for 203 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran seven times for 39 yards and has led the 49ers to four straight wins – this after looking shaky in losses to Seattle, Indianapolis, Carolina and New Orleans.
“I think that’s part of football,” Willis said. “Adversity, criticism – it’s always around you, whether it’s good or bad. That’s why you don’t want to get too caught up in it when everybody’s patting you on the back, and you don’t want to get (in a funk) when people are doubting you.
“(Kaepernick) has done a great job of handling that adversity, that criticism. He has us as his teammates. We’re all in it together. Win, lose or draw, we’re all teammates. We fight for one another and we believe in him and he believes in himself and this football team. Anything is possible, and he’s certainly showing perseverance. He’s been strong and doing what needs to be done.”
San Francisco improved to 10-4 with its win over Tampa Bay but still trails Seattle (12-2) by two games in the NFC West. Seattle destroyed the Giants this Sunday, forcing five interceptions in a 23-0 shutout.
With a two-game lead over the 49ers, Saints and Panthers, it appears the NFC’s road to the Super Bowl will go through Seattle, where San Francisco lost 29-3 in Week 2.
If Willis is fazed by that, he isn’t showing it.
“Hopefully we’ll see them again,” he said, “and (hopefully) we’ll see them at their place.”