What it means: The 49ers severely damaged their NFC West hopes by falling to 3-7 heading into a stretch featuring four road games in five weeks. Their big-play offense wasn't nearly as exciting without the big plays. The 49ers appeared more conservative. The Bucs had something to do with taking away the downfield passes that had made Troy Smith successful in his first two starts as the 49ers' quarterback. Was this one bad game, or has Smith become easier to solve after opponents had a chance to size up his game over a longer period?
What I liked: Inside linebacker Patrick Willis continued to step up his game. He had two sacks and reached double figures in tackles. The 49ers also dramatically reduced their penalty count from last week.
What I didn't like: The 49ers could get nothing going on offense. Last week, a big-play offense overshadowed inefficient play on third down. The team continued to struggle on third down, converting only three times in 12 chances. Frank Gore managed only 23 yards on 12 carries. Smith tossed an interception for the first time this season.
Tomorrow's Talker: Should the 49ers consider going back to Alex Smith at quarterback? Will it matter? Can Mike Singletary salvage his job? This is desperation time for San Francisco. Singletary did not commit to Troy Smith for the remainder of the season. he left open his options. Constantly changing quarterbacks generally is not a good idea, but Troy Smith was not effective Sunday. The continuing third-down issues raise questions about overall offensive health.
What's next: The 49ers visit Arizona for a "Monday Night Football" game at University of Phoenix Stadium.