Signing linebacker Kwon Alexander away from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the San Francisco 49ers’ first big move of free agency. As it happened, the 49ers’ first regular-season game was scheduled for Raymond James Stadium against Alexander’s former team.
Alexander’s return, and any hopes of being a hero for his new team against the Buccaneers, were short-lived.
With just over a minute left in the first quarter, Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston dropped back, then decided to scramble up the middle.
At the end of his 5-yard gain, Winston slid in front of Alexander. While he was sliding, Alexander came in and drilled him helmet-to-helmet.
Not only was Alexander flagged 15 yards, putting Tampa Bay well into San Francisco territory, the one-time Pro Bowler was ejected from the game.
Continuing the drive, Tampa Bay had a touchdown taken off the board twice because of holding penalties, and then came away empty-handed when tight end O.J. Howard was stripped at the 49ers’ 8-yard line by linebacker Fred Warner; defensive end Ronald Blair got the loose ball.
A fourth-round pick out of LSU in 2015, Alexander was playing his first game in almost 11 months, having torn his ACL in the Buccaneers’ Week 7 game against Cleveland last year.
The 49ers won, 31-17.
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