TAMPA, Fla. -- Staked to just a six-point lead in the fourth quarter, the San Francisco 49ers grinded out more than 10 minutes on a 77-yard drive that helped clinch a 33-14 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
San Francisco (10-4) dominated much of the game, but the Bucs rallied to cut the lead to 20-14 on the first play of the fourth. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick came through with two huge third-down conversions -- a 13-yard pass to wide receiver Michael Crabtree on third-and-12, then a 10-yard scramble on third-and-6 -- to help set up a field goal for a nine-point lead.
The next touchdown was a bit easier, and took six seconds. The Bucs attempted a lateral on the kickoff return, fumbled the exchange between Eric Page and Russell Shepard, and Kendall Hunter got the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown and a 30-14 lead with 4:21 left.
San Francisco dominated early on both sides of the ball -- aside from an offsides penalty, Tampa Bay (4-10) did not get a first down on offense until its fifth drive, going 0-for-5 on third downs in the opening half.
The 49ers, meanwhile, ran the ball with ease, getting 93 yards in the first half between running backs Frank Gore and Hunter, and Kaepernick. San Francisco got a 4-yard touchdown from Kaepernick to wide receiver Michael Crabtree for a 7-0 lead.
Kaepernick was sharp throughout the first half -- 11 of 13 for 148 yards -- but his best throw came on a 52-yard touchdown pass to tight end Vernon Davis, who beat safety Mark Barron and caught the throw in stride for a 17-0 lead with 1:47 left in the half.
The Bucs, held to 29 yards until two minutes left in the first half, woke up and struck for an 80-yard touchdown drive just before halftime. Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon went 5-for-6 for 57 yards on the drive, including an 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Vincent Jackson to cut the lead to 17-7.
The Bucs trailed 20-7 late in the third quarter when Glennon again found a spark -- he went 8-for-9 for 89 yards and hit rookie tight end Tim Wright for a 24-yard touchdown pass, cutting the lead to 20-14 with 14:50 left in the fourth quarter.
The win keeps San Francisco in strong position for a wild card, with a half-game lead over the Carolina Panthers and 1 1/2-game advantage over the Arizona Cardinals.