Credit: Bob Martin-USA TODAY Sports

49ers-Jaguars Review: Game Gold Nuggets

Despite a game that turned out to be a blowout by the second quarter, most of the sold out crowd stayed to watch the San Francisco 49ers’ dismantling of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Even though it was a home game for the Jags, the 49ers had a good portion of the crowd on their side.

The 49ers cruised to a 42-10 victory over the winless Jaguars by never letting up in the game. Just 23 minutes into the contest, San Francisco had a 28-0 lead. With the game in London and a big lead with the second half left to play, the 49ers could have easily started thinking about their bye week. But you know Jim Harbaugh would never allow his team to become complacent no matter how big a lead.

After traveling thousands of miles to play two-road games, the 49ers get to enjoy a bye week at exactly the mid-point of the season. After a week off, the Carolina Panthers come into town for a Week 10 matchup.  Let’s hand out some Game Gold Nuggets.

(Game Gold Nuggets Scale)

pngpngpngpngpng= OUTSTANDING

pngpngpngpng= VERY GOOD

pngpngpng= GOOD

pngpng= AVERAGE

png = TERRIBLE

 

OFFENSE

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The 49ers’ first four offensive possessions ended in touchdown drives of 76, 80, 72 and 63 yards. Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore each had two rushing touchdowns and helped contribute to the 221 rushing yards gained by the offense. Kap had 54 rushing yards on seven attempts, while Gore had 71 yards on 19 rushes. Kendall Hunter led the offense with 84 rushing yards that largely came in the second half with the game a blowout.

Kaepernick completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 164 yards and one touchdown. Kap finished with a 117.7 passer rating. His touchdown pass to Vernon Davis in the second quarter was Davis’ seventh TD in eight games. The tight end had three receptions for 52 yards and he did a tremendous job run blocking.

The 49ers outgained the Jaguars, 233-40, and collected 16 first downs in the team’s first 34 offensive plays. If not for Gore’s fumble that led to Jacksonville’s only touchdown of the game, the offense would have received 5 GGNs.

DEFENSE

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From the very beginning of the game San Francisco’s defense dominated and overwhelmed the Jaguars offense. Jacksonville’s first four offensive possessions ended in punts after drives of only 42, 4, 4 and 6 yards.

In the fourth quarter the defense secured its lone turnover after outside linebacker Dan Skuta picked up a fumble forced by linebacker Patrick Willis. Skuta ran back the fumble for a 47-yard touchdown, his first of his career. The fumble was the 13th takeaway by the defense during the five-game winning streak. The 49ers have scored points on every turnover, with nine touchdowns and four field goals.

Defensive end Ray McDonald did a great job against the run and helped limit Maurice Jones-Drew to 75 rushing yards. NaVorro Bowman led the defense with ten tackles.

The Jaguars finished with 90 rushing yards and 228 passing yards. The defense was close to perfection, but the only TD they gave up came on a 12-play, 60-yard drive.

SPECIAL TEAMS

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Andy Lee had just one punt against the woeful Jags. Lee’s punt attempt traveled 61 yards.

Kicker Phil Dawson was needed for only extra points and he made all six of his attempts.

A big reason why the special teams only received 2 GGNs is because of returner Kyle Williams. He fumbled the opening kickoff and returned another for a total of four yards. Williams’ momentum after returning the kick pulled him out-of-bounds at San Francisco’s three-yard line. The Niners were up 28-3 at the time and it was close to the end of the first half. Still, he should not be taking kick returns at the 1-yard line. He also muffed a punt in the second quarter that went out-of-bounds.

To top it off, Williams was replaced by running back Anthony Dixon in the second half after averaging just 13 yards on two kick returns and two yards on two punts. Dixon’s lone kick return was in the third quarter and he ran it back for 47 yards.

Williams has struggled all season returning kickoffs and punts. He leads the league with 20 punt return fair catches and is only averaging 5.1 yards per return. The 49ers would be wise to use Dixon or LaMichael James in the return game. Dixon showed potential for kickoffs, but James has been inactive the past three games despite being healthy.

The team needs to do something. However, Jim Harbaugh said in his post game news conference the only reason why Dixon was in the game was because he wanted to see him in action, not Williams’ miscues.

I’ve been wanting to see Anthony Dixon return and I felt like that would be an opportunity. He did a heck of a job. That was great to see. He’s been working at that now for about four weeks and felt like it was an opportunity to get him a turn in.

 

We are not going to talk about the controversy of who the returner is. There is no returner controversy.

COACHING

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Harbaugh going with Dixon in the second half in the return game was a good move, but it should have been made earlier. The offense had to burn two timeouts in the first half because the play clock was running out. The 49ers finished with just two penalties.

Greg Roman is a genius when it comes to confusing opposing defenses by using multiple-formations and different personnel groups. The inexperience on Jacksonville’s defense showed as they were fooled multiple times and missed plenty of assignments. The most glaring was fullback Bruce Miller not being covered on a play. Miller was lined up as a receiver and caught a pass that went for 43 yards. Two of the offenses touchdowns were scored because of the Jaguars’ defense confused by a run fake and play-action.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio made a strategic personnel move with his linebackers. He switched Willis and Bowman at the weak and strong-side linebackers. Willis usually is at the weak-side position, while Bowman occupies the strong-side. Fangio likely made the move because Bowman has shown to be the better run linebacker this season.

If the 49ers are going to stick with Williams in the return game, special teams coach Brad Seely needs to figure out why Williams has been so bad.

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