TAMPA, Fla. -- Coach Jim Harbaugh anticipated a "happy flight" home Sunday night for his victorious 49ers, regardless of whether a playoff spot would be clinched later that night by virtue of an Arizona Cardinals loss at Tennessee.
The Cardinals won in overtime, however, so the 49ers still haven't secured the postseason right to defend their NFC crown.
But the 49ers (10-4) sure did their part Sunday, overpowering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 33-14 and extending their win streak to four.
"Everybody looked like they were involved and contributing today," Harbaugh said. "Lot of great things."
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick's greatest contribution came on a 10½-minute drive once the Buccaneers closed within 20-14. Not only was he 5 of 6 passing for 35 yards, he also had a 10-yard scramble to extend the 17-play, 77-yard series, which culminated with Phil Dawson's 21-yard field goal.
"Kap had a monster game," Harbaugh said. "He took some things on his own shoulders."
That's not to disparage a supporting cast that's rounding into top form. Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis each had a touchdown catch. Anquan Boldin made what Harbaugh called "miraculous catches." And Frank Gore's 86 rushing yards pushed him over the 1,000-yard mark for the seventh time in his career.
The 49ers defense was its dominant self: The Buccaneers converted 1 of 10 third-down plays, they ran for only 39 yards, and, in a fitting conclusion, Mike Glennon was sacked on back-to-back plays before his final pass was intercepted by Eric Reid.
This was the encore effort the 49ers sought after last Sunday's 19-17 win over the first-place Seattle Seahawks (12-2).
"You respond positively or you respond negatively," said outside linebacker Aldon Smith, who had two sacks and now shares the team lead with Ahmad Brooks at 8½ apiece.
Added Reid: "Winning the game against Seattle was huge for our season, but it didn't mean anything unless we followed it up with a win, so we got that today and we're looking forward to next week."
The ensuing week is sure to overflow with nostalgia leading into the Monday night game against the Atlanta Falcons. It will be Candlestick Park's finale -- barring an unlikely playoff game there -- and former owner Eddie DeBartolo will be on hand as the honorary captain.
DeBartolo, who lives in Tampa, attended Sunday's game and said he anticipates the red-hot 49ers to reach a second straight Super Bowl. The 49ers remain poised as the NFC's No. 6 seed, just ahead of the Cardinals, who are 9-5 and will host the 49ers in the regular-season finale.
The Buccaneers (4-10) showed little chance of an upset Sunday, and they got overwhelmed in the fourth quarter once the 49ers' offense, defense and special teams all rose to the occasion.
After Dawson made his 23rd consecutive field-goal attempt for a 23-14 lead, Kendall Hunter recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and vaulted 2 yards into the end zone for a stadium-emptying touchdown with 4:21 remaining.
That win seemed a foregone conclusion once Vernon Davis hauled in a 52-yard touchdown catch for a 17-0 lead with 1:47 left in the first half.
But when the Buccaneers cut the 49ers' lead to 20-14 on Glennon's 24-yard touchdown pass to Tim Wright, the 49ers "told ourselves that we've got to buckle down, we've got to be exact, we can't let this game get any closer than it is," linebacker Patrick Willis said.
Then came the 10½-minute drive that was highlighted by a third-down completion from Kaepernick to Crabtree, who three snaps earlier drew a penalty for throwing a ball in frustration after a deep incompletion.
Repeatedly, Kaepernick escaped pressure by rolling to his right and finding Crabtree for sideline receptions, including on a first-quarter touchdown that was Crabtree's first since his comeback from Achilles surgery.
Davis became the first tight end in NFL history to produce a second season with 12 touchdown catches. He hit the dozen mark Sunday when he beat safety Mark Barron and made a lunging catch in the end zone on Kaepernick's 52-yard bomb.
The touchdown pass to Davis capped off Kaepernick's sensational first half: 11 of 13 for 148 yards with two touchdown passes and a 153.7 passer rating. His final line: 19 of 29 for 203 yards, two touchdowns and a 108.8 rating, along with seven runs for 39 yards.
Davis' 12 touchdown receptions are one shy of his career high, set in 2009. He's caught a touchdown in five consecutive games, the longest streak by a 49ers receiver since Terrell Owens had five straight in 2001.
After Sunday's score, Davis crashed into a wall behind the end zone and had the wind knocked out of him. He finished with five receptions for 79 yards.
Said Davis: "These guys know that when we're under pressure and things aren't going the way we expect, if we just hang in there, keep our composure, keep our head up and take it one play at a time, everything will work out."
Atlanta (4-10) at 49ers (10-4), 5:40 p.m., ESPN, KPIX
Amped-up Crabtree delivers big catches, unusual penalty. PAGE 4
Ex-owner DeBartolo says team is Super Bowl caliber. PAGE 4
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