TAMPA, Fla. — If you were seeking a sign, perhaps Sunday was the sign.

If you were a 49ers fan who wants to believe the team's offense has finally coalesced and meshed gears solidly enough to make a real run in the playoffs, Sunday could be fuel for that belief.

If you were waiting for Colin Kaepernick to again do that thing he can do, where he takes a snap and transforms himself for seven or eight seconds into the most dangerous quarterback on earth ... well, Kaepernick did that Sunday when his team most needed him to do that.

And it might mean something more than the final score. The 49ers beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 33-14 at Raymond James Stadium. The result was expected. The Buccaneers aren't very good. The more significant news was how the 49ers accomplished the victory. Namely, they did not rely on their defense to stifle an opponent, then hope for the best on offense.

Instead, dramatically, the 49ers put the offense in Kaepernick's hands and watched him grow yards, grow points, and simply grow, period. The 49ers offense wound up controlling the ball for more than 40 minutes, the 49ers' best time-of-possession advantage in more than two years.

Afterward, coach Jim Harbaugh was borderline exuberant in his media session, going so far as to say Kaepernick had a “monster game” and “put on his cape” while throwing two touchdown passes and accounting for 241 yards of total offense, combined running and throwing.

“There's not a lot of people that can make those kind of plays that he was making,” Harbaugh said. “I mean, making them with his feet, make them with his arm, make them with his head. I mean, who's able to do that, playing in this league? Very few guys.”

But what about Kaepernick himself? Did he think this was his best game of the season?

“I don't know,” Kaepernick said. “It was another win for us, though.”

(That's standard Kaepernickian dialect, succinct and pithy. His version of the Gettysburg address would be: “Great country. Tough war. Gotta keep pushing.”)

In truth, Kaepernick was more on the button than his coach. In the “monster” category, Sunday was not a Godzilla game for the quarterback. It was more of a Gremlin, not as giant but still effective. But it was impressive because of all it accomplished — keeping the 49ers ahead of Arizona in the postseason chase and showing the NFL that Kaepernick's confidence is back in ascension mode after it appeared to stall for stretches this season.

Here is what we need to realize: Kaepernick, at this stage of his career, is a big-bang quarterback. He is not a purring-engine quarterback. He may become one as his career progresses. But right now, he is a big bang guy. And that's fine.

For example, a skeptic might note that 52 of Kaepernick's yards on Sunday came on one touchdown throw to tight end Vernon Davis. Take away that one play and Kaepernick's passing totals were 18 for 28 for 151 yards, pedestrian numbers.

But so what? That's exactly the big-bang point. You can't possibly “take away” that one touchdown pass — because it happened and it was a beauty and Kaepernick executed it perfectly, giving the 49ers a 17-0 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. His throw was a soaring missile, traveling more than 60 yards in the air before Davis gathered it in while sprinting at full speed into the end zone.

“It looked like Willie Mays running down a long fly ball to center field,” Harbaugh said.

“It was a 'shot' play,” Kaepernick said. “He made an amazing play beating the safety and making the catch.”

Yet that wasn't even Kaepernick's most impressive play of the afternoon. That honor went to a throw he made in the fourth quarter, after Tampa Bay had closed to within 20-14 on the scoreboard.

The 49ers faced a third-and-12 at their own 29-yard line. Kaepernick took the snap and was almost immediately under pressure from one blitzing defender. So he rolled right — the direction he rolls best in terms of finding receivers — and shook off one attempted Tampa Bay arm tackle as he waited for someone to come open.

Sure enough, just when you thought Kaepernick would be forced to throw away the ball or run out of bounds, he spotted Michael Crabtree near the sideline just beyond the downs marker. Kaepernick fired a slingshot missile. Crabtree caught it. First down. The Buccaneers' shoulders visibly sagged.

“We had the look we wanted,” Kaepernick said. “They rotated late on the blitz. They had one guy free so immediately my reaction was to roll. Crab made a great play.”

The play kept the machinery going on a drive that would last 17 plays, cover 77 yards and eat up 10 minutes and 33 seconds on the scoreboard clock. At one point, Kaepernick made another third down play with a 10-yard scramble. The drive ended with a field goal, not a touchdown. But for Tampa Bay, the sequence was demoralizing.

“I'm not going to lie,” said tackle Joe Staley. “I was tired. But we had to get a drive going. We had to get points. That was a big drive for us.”

Granted, the 49ers offense isn't perfect. Too many drives yield three points rather than seven points. But with two weeks left in the regular season, the needle is moving in the right direction, especially at quarterback. The monster is stirring. That's good sign language.