The 49ers are officially on their first 3 game win streak since 2014. The team is coming off of a dramatic home win over a team trying to make a playoff run in the Tennessee Titans. New QB Jimmy Garoppolo has injected life into this team and really made them a lot of fun to watch. Garoppolo was once again the 49ers best player on the field and he made the plays that needed to be made to get another win. The 49ers are officially set at the QB position, amazing that they were able to get it done with a trade in the middle of the season.
At the start of the season when you look at the schedule you think of games that could be an easy win. Well the Jacksonville Jaguars were looked at as one of those games. Well, this season it’s a whole new world in Jacksonville. The team is playing some of the best defense of any team in the NFL this season. They are particularly good against the pass, creating a very interesting matchup with the 49ers new franchise QB going against the best pass defense in the NFL. This would be a huge win for a young 49ers team. How can they get it done?
Win against press coverage
Jaguars CB AJ Bouye and CB Jalen Ramsey are the best corner duo in the NFL. Both made the pro bowl this season and they both absolutely deserved it. The 49ers have a very young wide receiver core. The best of the group is WR Marquise Goodwin, who is closing in on his first 1000 yard receiving season of his career. The number two and three options are rookie wide receivers Trent Taylor and Kendrick Bourne. Both players have showed promise, but they are still rookies learning out to play. The Jaguars corners are going to be all over the receivers and they will get physical at the line on just about every snap. Timing routes are a big part of HC Kyle Shanahan’s offense and the 49ers receivers will need to get off the line as clean as possible to let Garoppolo get them the ball.
Accuracy trumps good coverage
There is a saying that you can’t cover a perfectly thrown ball. Well, for the most part this is true. As good as the Jags corners are if Jimmy G is putting the ball in a perfect location the corners can’t do a lot about it. Garoppolo’s accuracy will be the difference in winning and losing this game.
Run the ball early and often
Nothing kills a defense more than a good run game, as great as the Jaguars have been against the pass, they’ve been susceptible to the run game. RB Carlos Hyde will need to have a big day. If the run game is going Kyle Shanahan can really start killing the Jaguars defense with play action and quick throws from the QB. This 49ers offensive line will have a long day in the trenches. The Jaguars have a lot of big powerful players on the defensive line, Hyde is going to need to break some tackles at the line of scrimmage to create big plays in the run game.
Stop the run
The Jaguars have a very familiar way of winning games. Run the ball and play amazing defense. 49ers fans know how effective this strategy can be at winning a lot of games. The Jaguars rookie RB Leonard Fournette is one of the better young offensive players in the NFL. He didn’t play last week due to injury but he will be back to take on the 49ers. The 49ers defense has been pretty good this season at stopping the run, they will need to continue that trend this Sunday.
Don’t give up the big play
QB Blake Bortles may hold the Jaguars back from winning a super bowl this year. He’s clearly not a top tier QB. But over the last 3 weeks he’s been playing some of the best football in his career. He’s especially been good at creating big plays for TDs. The 49ers are going to need to limit the down field throws for Bortles and make him earn every yard.
I don’t think anyone will argue that the 49ers have the better QB in this game. That could be the big difference in the outcome. The Jaguars have been putting up a lot of points over the last 3 weeks, but I don’t think that’s going to continue this week. They will be traveling across country to play a team on 3 game winning streak, who’s has held there last 3 opponents to 23, 16, and 14 points.
This will be a big test for this young 49ers team. Kyle Shanahan really has the team playing well the past three weeks. The defense is really starting to come into their own. This is a team that plays complementary football in all three phases. They will need to execute at a high level in all three phases if they want to turn this 3 game win streak into a 4 game win streak.