Watson steps up with career-high 12 tackles
TAMPA -- Facing a San Francisco offense that likes to load up on tight ends and blocking backs, the Bucs played in their base defense as much Sunday as they have all year, and that meant a career day for linebacker Dekoda Watson.
Watson, who is typically off the field when the Bucs go to their nickel defense with five defensive backs, had a game-high 12 tackles, resetting the career high he set two years ago against the same 49ers offense with seven tackles in 2011.
The fourth-year pro from Florida State, an unrestricted free agent after the season, said the Bucs knew they had to contain the 49ers' running game but wasn't able to do enough defensively to keep the team in the game to the end.
"We already expected for it to be a physical game," he said. "There's a lot of things that we could have corrected, a lot of things we controlled and didn't take advantage of, a lot of mistakes on our part. The Niners definitely took advantage of it and it cost us in the end."
Three weeks ago, Watson had been shifted to defensive end to help spark the outside pass rush, but he's been firmly back at outside linebacker since Jonathan Casillas was lost to a season-ending knee injury. Containing 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made for a long day for the Bucs defense, but Watson was a big part of that effort.
"Definitely a smart quarterback. He can see things, he can throw, he can run," Watson said. "They have a great run offense and they have a lot of weapons out there on offense. They definitely utilized it today."