Why King sees 49ers as NFC threat, could be like 2020 Bucs


The 49ers are on a roll, with no sign of slowing down anytime soon. 

Winners of three straight after taking down the Minnesota Vikings 34-26 Sunday at Levi's Stadium, the 49ers have sole possession of the No. 6 seed in the NFC.

With six weeks remaining in the 2021 NFL regular season, the 49ers (6-5) will need to win most of their remaining games if they are to claim one of the three wild card spots. 

It has been an up-and-down season for San Francisco through 12 weeks, similar to that of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' first 12 weeks of the 2020 season. Although they went on to win Super Bowl 55, the Bucs initially started the season with a modest record of 7-5, similar to the 49ers' record in 2021.

The Bucs were a good team but weren't necessarily viewed as one of the elite teams in the league up until the very end of the season.

NBC Sports NFL columnist Peter King released his latest "Football Morning in America" article where he wrote about a handful of teams who are positioned for a second-half breakout, titled "This Year's Bucs."

At the top of his list is the 49ers. 

"Strong run game with the Niners’ last pick in the 2021 draft, Elijah Mitchell," King wrote. "Forced into action and playing great (693 yards, 4.8 per rush), under the tutelage of 72-year-old running backs coach Bobby Turner. And Jimmy Garoppolo, the undisputed starter, has turned it over once in the last three games—not coincidentally, all wins. The Niners cannot afford Deebo Samuel’s groin injury to be serious. He’s turned into a first-class phenom, averaging 18.0 yards per catch and 8.1 yards per rush. Road games at the Bengals, Titans and Rams will test them, but I see the Niners as a threatening sixth seed in a weakened NFC."


Following a Week 13 bye, the 2020 Bucs went on to win their remaining four games on their way to an eventual Super Bowl victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. 

RELATED: Maiocco: Why Jimmy G, Shanahan impressed in win vs. Vikings

The 49ers are scheduled to face the Seattle Seahawks (Week 13), Cincinnati Bengals (Week 14), Atlanta Falcons (Week 15), Tennessee Titans (Week 16), Houston Texans (Week 17) and end the regular season with a rematch against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 18. 

NBC Sports Bay Area's Donte Whitner said following the 49ers' win over the Jacksonville Jaguars last week that San Francisco is capable of winning all seven (now six) of their remaining games this season. 

If the 49ers are to replicate a similar path through the postseason as the Bucs did last year, they'll need to win most of those remaining games. 

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