The 49ers crushed a surging Jaguars outfit 34-3 in a game where the defense had more turnovers than points allowed, thanks to Steve Wilks and his change to coaching on the field.
In a fun change of pace from the previous three games, the San Francisco 49ers showed the league some ominous signs when they went to northern Florida and demolished a strong Jacksonville Jaguars outfit 34-3 to move to 6-3 for the season.
From quarterback Brock Purdy shaking off the negative plays of the last three games to incorporating EDGE Chase Young into the defense, the Niners looked more like the team that took the NFL by storm on the way to a 5-0 start.
Read More: 49ers fire on all cylinders in cathartic one-sided road win vs. Jaguars
The most noticeable change, however, was defensive coordinator Steve Wilks moving from the booth to coaching onto the field, which brought immediate dividends as the defense had more turnovers (four) than points allowed in this game (three).
The end result was a defensive game that looks more like the 49ers we know and love, with minimal blitzing but maximum impact.
Wilks moving from the booth to the sideline has drawn positive reactions from the defense, with linebacker Fred Warner indicating his approval as the heart of the defense, which bears well for the rest of the season:
"It was good, it was good having him down there, and the communication was flawless."- Fred Warner
It wasn't just his mere presence that indicated a return to the strong defensive performances we're used to from the 49ers. Sports Illustrated's Grant Cohn indicated the big change in defensive strategy during his team grades, where the team played more press coverage in order to allow the team to tee off on Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence with five sacks.
"Gave up just three points and took the ball away from Jacksonville four times. Check mate. And the reason the defense played so well had nothing to do with Wilks calling plays from the sideline, and everything to do with a schematic adjustment he made. Instead of calling soft zone coverage all game, he called lots of press man coverage, which forced Lawrence to hold the ball longer than he'd like to, which allowed the 49ers pass rush to win the game."- Grant Cohn
While the Niners had some pass interference calls go against them due to the more aggressive defense, it ended up being an acceptable tradeoff given the results. It could have been even better, but a long fumble return by cornerback Ambry Thomas for a touchdown was called back due to 49ers players and coaches foolishly stepping onto the field before the play was over.
There's still a lot of time before the playoffs, but the first game of the new defensive system has had a more than promising start.