TAMPA — After losing 25 of 36 home games during a recent stretch, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have an opportunity to establish some serious momentum Sunday at Raymond James Stadium against the favored 49ers.
Tampa Bay is seeking its first four-game home winning streak since 2008, Jon Gruden’s final season on the Bucs’ sideline and the last time the club finished with a winning mark (6-2) at RayJay.
A complete sellout is expected for the 2013 home finale before the Bucs conclude a disappointing year by hitting the road to face the Rams and Saints
“You want to finish strong, you want to leave a good taste in the mouth of our fans,’’ said veteran WR Vincent Jackson, who has topped the 1,000-yard plateau in both of his seasons in Tampa. “Go out there and play hard, put up a great effort and hopefully come out with a win.’’
The Bucs dropped their first four home games this year during an 0-8 start before a 22-19 victory against the Dolphins in prime time triggered a run of four wins within a five-week span.
“We’ve got a huge crowd coming in — and it’s exciting,’’ G Davin Joseph said after Friday’s practice. “We’ve been able to play well at home as of late, and of course we want to end on the right note. We want to go out Sunday and play competitive ball. I think if we can do that, we’ll walk away with a win.’’
The 49ers have reeled off three consecutive victories to improve to 9-4. The last time the teams met, San Francisco rolled to a 48-3 triumph at Candlestick Park in 2011.
“I think our fans have believed in us all year,’’ Joseph said. “We’ve had some tough games, tough breaks and good opponents. Most Sundays haven’t turned out our way, but our fans have stuck with us through some tough times. We want to give them something to be proud of.’’
There were times last week when Jackson was unsure whether he’d be able to play against the Bills. He progressed a little each day, but Jackson was still listed as questionable with a sore hamstring heading into the weekend.
Then he went out and caught three passes for 70 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown on a play Buffalo was flagged for pass interference trying to defend him.
“There were some doubts early in the week,’’ said Jackson, who had an apparent 14-yard scoring reception overturned on review late in the third quarter. “I wasn’t feeling great. But (trainer) Todd (Toriscelli) and his team did everything they could to help me get out on the field.’’
Jackson, 30, was determined to make his 29th consecutive start as a Buccaneer.
“I do take pride in it,’’ he said of the ongoing streak. “I know everybody out here is going hard and it’s a tough league. I’ve never seen so many guys go down around the league. To complete a full season is noteworthy.’’
Go stuff it
The 49ers have not allowed a 100-yard rusher through 13 games. The NFL’s No. 4 defense held a strong Seattle run game to only 86 yards in last week’s 19-17 triumph and now San Francisco’s attention is focused on diminutive Bobby Rainey, who burned Buffalo for an 80-yard touchdown dash on the second snap of the game.
“Yeah, that’s quite an accomplishment,’’ San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said of his club’s stout run defense.
Joseph said it’s been fun blocking for a “home run hitter” like Rainey, who was given an opportunity after season-ending injuries to Doug Martin and Mike James.
“The 49ers run the 3-4 exactly like you’re supposed to run it,’’ Joseph said. “It’s their outside linebackers that make it so tough. They look like defensive linemen and play like linebackers. They are smart, tough, physical players who make an impact.’’
The Glazer Family Foundation and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve will collect new, unwrapped toys for the annual “Toys for Tots’’ drive before Sunday’s game. Marines will collect toys throughout stadium parking lots at the yellow collection tents approaching the entrances. ...At halftime, youths ranging from 1-17 will be welcomed to the field by Santa Claus for the team’s “Day of Giving.’’ Each child, who was preselected by United Way Suncoast, will search the field for his or her name to find $150 worth of gifts. In total, the Bucs are donating more than $30,000 in presents.