49ers vs. Jaguars: Takeaways from Jacksonville's 42-10 Loss to San Francisco
This Week 8 San Francisco 49ers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars matchup in London, England, was lopsided on paper and even more lopsided on the field. The 49ers dominated every aspect of the game; the Jaguars were out of it before the end of the first quarter.
Jacksonville enters its Week 9 bye with an 0-8 record and no chance at a winning record. With 2013 being the first year of a major rebuilding effort, nobody should've expected much different. General manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley have a lot of work to do to repair the mess Gene Smith left behind.
Can we learn anything from the Jaguars' blowout loss to the 49ers this week? Absolutely.
Jacksonville's Pass Rush Is Nonexistent
Forty-niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick didn't have to do much escaping in this week's game against Jacksonville. The Jaguars pass rush was completely stymied at the line of scrimmage, giving Kaepernick all the time in the world and allowing him to complete 10 of 16 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown.
Jacksonville didn't sack Kaepernick at all and was also credited with zero quarterback hits and only one tackle for a loss. When the Jaguars did get a little pressure on Kaepernick, they failed to contain him, allowing him to pick up 54 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
The Jaguars pass defense isn't horrible, but it's definitely not good enough to cover for five to 10 seconds. Kaepernick was essentially able to throw the ball to whomever he wanted because the Jaguars couldn't get in his face.
Jason Babin, Andre Branch and Jeremy Mincey just aren't cutting it; the Jaguars entered this week tied for 29th in the league in sacks with eleven. The problem seems to be more on the personnel side of things than the game-plan side. If Jacksonville can't improve their pass rush, the second half of the season will very likely mirror the first.
Chad Henne's Decision-Making Was Questionable at Best
Though Chad Henne didn't get sacked and the 49ers weren't credited with a single quarterback hit, Henne was under duress for much of the game, having to get the ball out quicker than he wanted. The issue, though, is that Henne's decision-making abilities took a major nosedive when the pressure was on.
The constant pressure made Henne jumpy and caused him to make poor decisions even when he had time to throw the ball. One play stood out to me as the perfect example of what Henne simply can't do in order for this offense to move the ball:
Henne faked the handoff to Maurice Jones-Drew on play action and rolled out to his left. The San Francisco defense bit hard on the fake, leaving Henne tons of time and space.
Instead of planting his feet and looking down the field, Henne dumped it off to fullback Will Tau'ufo'ou, who had a defender on his back. Tau'ufo'ou brought the pass in for a one-yard gain and was promptly blown up by the defender.
Henne needs to start plays with his eyes downfield and look to his dump-off options only when his receivers are covered downfield. Fourteen of Henne's 45 passes were thrown in the direction of his running backs, and many of those were hasty dump-off passes that didn't need to be thrown yet.
The Jaguars Can't Afford to Make Mental Mistakes
Teams like this year's Jaguars squad can't afford to make mental mistakes, but Jacksonville continues to make them. This week's mental mistake special was on the 49ers' first drive.
Fullback Bruce Miller lined up for the snap on the far right sideline, and he apparently blended in with the players on the sideline because zero Jaguars defenders lined up to cover him. Colin Kaepernick took the snap and tossed the ball to Miller, who rumbled down the sideline for a 43-yard gain.
There were other mental mistakes in this game such as a personal foul for a late hit called on linebacker Geno Hayes or the Jaguars' constant inability to keep contain on Kaepernick in the pocket, but the Miller reception was a perfect illustration of the type of play bad teams can't make if they want to be competitive.
Cecil Shorts Is Really Good When He Catches the Ball
Still playing with a sprained sternoclavicular joint, Cecil Shorts was expected to take a back seat to Justin Blackmon among Jaguars wide receivers. However, both Jaguars receivers are good enough to be the focal point of the team's game plan, and this week was Shorts' turn again.
Shorts didn't look injured at all, pulling down contested balls and breaking away from 49ers cornerback Tramaine Brock for a nice run after catch. He picked up 10 targets, the same number Blackmon received, but pulled down seven of them to Blackmon's four and outgained Blackmon 74 yards to 31.
Whoever plays quarterback for the Jaguars next year is going to be spoiled with this receiving corps. Mike Brown seems to be coming on, and Ace Sanders has potential, but Shorts and Blackmon are a one-two punch many NFL teams would be lucky to have.
The Jaguars' Run Defense Is Just the Worst
The Jaguars entered Week 8 dead last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game with a horrendous average of 153.3 yards per game. The 49ers, meanwhile, entered the game third in the league in rushing with an average of 143.3 yards per game. It seemed to be a foregone conclusion that San Francisco would be able to run the ball against the Jaguars.
They weren't just able to run the ball...the 49ers piled up an astounding 221 yards on the ground against Jacksonville. The Jaguars weren't able to stop anyone; San Francisco's leading rusher was actually backup running back Kendall Hunter, who racked up 84 yards on only nine carries.
Jacksonville's run defense is now allowing 161.8 yards per game on the ground and will remain at the bottom of the league ranks for at least another couple weeks. This seems like a personnel issue as well. The Jaguars' front seven needs a complete makeover, and Dave Caldwell will start setting up his salon chair as soon as the season ends.
Jacksonville Finally Scored a Touchdown at "Home"
The Jaguars' schedule features a Week 9 bye, meaning exactly half of their schedule takes place before the bye week. In those eight games before the bye, the Jaguars played four home games.
Jacksonville's first three home games were played at EverBank Field, and the Jaguars were kept out of the end zone in all three. This week's contest was played in London, England, and Jacksonville was finally able to get a touchdown at "home" on a 29-yard pass to Mike Brown.
With four home games still to come, Jacksonville still hasn't scored a touchdown at their home stadium, but at least they're finally on the board at "home." Hopefully, the second half finds the Jaguars in the end zone at EverBank Field at least once.
Somebody Should Trade for Maurice Jones-Drew
Many people have stated that Maurice Jones-Drew looks like he's done. His explosion is missing, and his deep speed is lacking. However, the Jaguars continue to feed him.
Against a 49ers defense that most thought would shut down the Jaguars' 32nd-ranked rushing attack, Jones-Drew racked up 75 yards on 19 carries. He also caught six passes and picked up 47 yards through the air.
Does Jones-Drew have any trade value? He's in the final year of his contract, meaning a team acquiring him would only have his services for eight or nine games. He appears to be slowing down and is clearly not the same back he was in 2011 when he led the NFL in rushing.
However, Jones-Drew is still a tough back who finishes his runs. He's a fantastic pass-blocker and a solid pass-catcher, and he can play on all three downs.
Wouldn't one of those teams (or another one) benefit from giving up a fifth- or sixth-round pick for a running back of Jones-Drew's ability? I think it's worth it. Somebody needs to step up and acquire Jones-Drew.
Eight More Games Until the Quarterback Nightmare Is over
The 2013 season has been a disappointment for Jaguars fans, even those who entered the year with low expectations. I personally expected something between three and five wins, but this team appears to be even worse than that.
Jacksonville will be lucky to win a single game this year. The Jaguars' schedule is probably easier in the second half than the first, but it also includes five divisional games and a road contest in Cleveland. They also play Buffalo and Arizona at home, and none of the eight teams they play are pushovers.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers look to be equally hopeless and are the Jaguars' best competition for the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, but either way Jacksonville should end up with the first or second pick, which should net them either Teddy Bridgewater or Marcus Mariota.
Your patience will be rewarded this May...the era of disastrous quarterback play in Jacksonville will only last eight more weeks.