TAMPA, Fla. (AP)—Joe Jurevicius insists he doesn’t have a problem with Jon Gruden.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver caught two touchdown passes in Sunday’s 35-3 rout of the San Francisco 49ers, then shrugged off questions about a discussion he had with his coach about his role in the offense.
“I think it’s all blown out of proportion,” Jurevicius said after scoring his first TDs since last year’s season opener, a sign that he’s truly back after missing more than a year with injuries.
“I’m not going to be a distraction. It’s never about 100 catches for me, it’s not about 20 catches for me. It’s about if my number is called, I’ll make plays for you. There was no chastising of him. There was no lashing out or ripping him. I think the guy’s a phenomenal coach.”
The victory was the fourth in six games after an 0-4 start for Tampa Bay (4-6). The 49ers (1-9) have lost five straight and were held to 197 yards total offense with Tim Rattay being sacked five times and turning the ball over twice.
“It’s pretty self explanatory,” 49ers coach Dennis Erickson said. “When you have a performance like that offensively … you do not have any chance to win.”
Jurevicius, one of the key players in Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl run two years ago, missed most of last season, as well as the first six games of 2004, with knee and back injuries that required surgery.
The seventh-year pro began the season on the reserve/non-football injury list after a back operation early in training camp. He returned last month, but before Sunday had only six receptions for 67 yards and was not happy with a limited role.
Jurevicius expressed his feelings during the week to Gruden, who has gradually tried to work him back into the mix. The receiver scored Sunday on catches of 9 and 42 yards, finishing with five receptions for 82 yards.
“Joe is coming back to life as a football player. He’s been very frustrated with the injuries he has had,” Gruden said, also playing down the exchange with the receiver. “He delivered today and hopefully that’s a good sign of things to come.”
Michael Pittman delivered his third 100-yard rushing effort in the past four games and scored on runs of 14 and 6 yards. Reserve cornerback Torrie Cox returned an interception 55 yards for the Bucs’ final points midway through the fourth quarter.
Pittman gained 106 yards on 21 carries, while Brian Griese was 15-of-21 for 210 yards and two interceptions after being limited in practice by a sprained throwing shoulder, the product of being sacked seven times at Atlanta.
The 49ers, meanwhile, looked every bit as bad as their record in extending their worst start since 1979.
Linebacker Derrick Brooks sacked Rattay, forcing a fumble that Chartric Darby recovered at the 49ers 14 to set up Pittman’s first touchdown. Pittman scored again early in the third quarter to make it 28-0.
San Francisco was limited to 26 yards on 22 offensive plays in falling behind by three touchdowns at the half.
“They stopped everything we did,” running back Kevan Barlow said, adding that the 49ers’ frustration is growing.
“Are we getting accustomed to losing? Maybe we are. … There’s got to be a turning point where we’ve got to say: `Hey, we’re going to go out here and win some games.”
If it hadn’t been for safety Tony Parrish, San Francisco might have been in an even bigger hole at the half.
Parrish’s end-zone interception stopped a nine-minute march in which the Bucs overcame a first-and-25, only to be denied building on a 7-0 lead when Griese locked in on Joey Galloway and didn’t see Parrish parked a few yards in front of him.
Later in the opening half, Griese underthrew a wide-open Galloway and Parrish returned his second interception 13 yards to the Tampa Bay 32. Four plays later, Todd Peterson’s 50-yard field goal attempt fell short.
San Francisco avoided a shutout when Peterson kicked a 47-yard field goal late in the third quarter. The game ended with the 49ers being stopped twice on running plays from Tampa Bay’s 1.
Rattay was 15-of-31 for 147 yards. San Francisco’s Eric Johnson began the day as the NFL’s second-leading receiver with 57 receptions, but was held to one catch for 9 yards.
Jurevicius’ TDs were his first since had two at Philadelphia on Sept. 8, 2003. … Pittman has a career-high six rushing TDs. … San Francisco’s Andy Lee had an 81-yard punt in the fourth quarter, tied for the third-longest in team history. … The 32-point margin of victory was Tampa Bay’s largest at home since a 41-0 rout of Chicago on Sept. 10, 2000.