SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Two weeks ago, Jacquizz Rodgers had never had a 100-yard game in six seasons in the NFL, nor more than 18 carries in a game.
For the second game in a row, he reset his career high in yards, grinding out 154 on 26 carries in the Bucs' 34-17 win over the 49ers on Sunday. In two weeks, he has had 56 carries, the second-highest two-game total in the past 20 years for a Bucs runner.
Cadillac Williams has the most, 61 carries over two games during the 2005 season.
"When you've got guys up front, blocking like they are, finishing through the whistle, it makes my job a lot easier," said Rodgers, 26, who signed in Week 2 as a No. 3 back and has stepped up in two games as a starter. "I've been waiting on this moment, so my job is to take full advantage of it. I try to get better and better every week. I try to top my performance from the previous week. That's my goal."
After getting 101 yards on 30 carries in a win against Carolina two weeks ago, he trumped that by halftime Sunday with 110 in leading the Bucs to a 17-14 halftime lead. Facing the worst run defense in the NFL, which had allowed 174 yards per game, Tampa Bay piled up 249, fourth most in franchise history.
"You don't want to be overconfident, but we had enough to know we can run the ball on this defense," G Kevin Pamphile said. "That was amazing to get that many yards, to get the running backs some room to run."
MOTIVATED: WR Russell Shepard talked to the team before the game about his extra motivation against 49ers coach Chip Kelly, who cut him as an undrafted rookie with the Eagles in 2013. Then the special teams standout stepped up with a big game, five catches for 77 yards — each more than he'd ever had in a entire NFL season — and the go-ahead touchdown in the second quarter.
"It means a lot to me," Shepard said of the personal motivation; his only previous career touchdown was in a win against Kelly's Eagles last season. "It was an opportunity. Everybody knows V-Jack (Vincent Jackson) is out and Mike Evans is the primary guy for us. … I had an opportunity and got a win. I was just thankful Jameis (Winston) gave me an opportunity."
Since the start of the 2015 season, the Bucs have nine wins, seven by a touchdown or less. The other two are against Kelly — by 28 against Philadelphia last year and by 17 against him Sunday.
500 CLUB: The Bucs finished with 513 yards of offense, topping 500 for the third time in 22 games in Dirk Koetter's offense. Before Koetter arrived in 2015, the Bucs had reached 500 yards just three times in the franchise's first 39 seasons.
THIS AND THAT: Winston finished 21-of-30 for 269 yards. His 70 percent completion rate was the third highest in 22 career games. … Rookie RB Peyton Barber had a 44-yard touchdown to seal the win and finished with 84 yards on 12 carries. … Former Florida State RB Antone Smith, signed last week, had a 30-yard catch in his Bucs debut. … S Bradley McDougald intercepted a Colin Kaepernick pass, and DT Gerald McCoy recovered a fumble after a sack of Kaepernick by nickel back Jude Adjei-Barimah.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.