The 49ers desperately need a win, and it won't come easy on the road against a surging Jaguars team.
At 5-3 and losers of three games in a row, the San Francisco 49ers are at a crossroads.
Coming off a bye in Week 9, and ahead of their Week 10 road matchup against the 6-2 Jacksonville Jaguars, the Niners can either climb right back into the hunt for the top seed in the NFC or fall dangerously closer to the .500 mark, which could cost them not just one of those top seeds but also potentially the NFC West crown.
And the only thing worse than a three-game losing streak is a four-game losing streak.
San Francisco has played some bad ball as of late, yes. Head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense has scored less than 20 points per game in those three losses, while coordinator Steve Wilks' defense has gone from an elite shutdown group to one that looks like a bottom-five unit despite having a plethora of elite playmakers.
Assigning blame is one thing, but finding the fixes is another. It'll also be difficult for the 49ers, too, as they have to travel east for the equivalent of a 10 a.m. PT kickoff against a Jags team that is also coming off a bye week.
Still, if the Niners do these four things well and correctly, they'll win on Sunday.
No. 4: 49ers must win on kickoffs, special teams
It doesn't seem as if it's been a strength for San Francisco this season, but opponents are averaging offensive drives starting on their own 25.4-yard line.
Inconsequential? Certainly not. That's best in the NFL right now, and it forces those same opposing offenses to march fuller lengths of the field to score. Paired with the 49ers defense having its own issues, this is one way to take pressure off Wilks' unit.
Teams having to travel long distances can be sloppy in all three phases of the game, yet limiting the Jags' return game this Sunday is a doable task that can create a positive ripple effect into the other two phases for the Niners.