By Jerrell Richardson
While the 49ers were clearly the more talented team heading into Sunday’s game against the Jaguars, they had to make sure not to overlook a winless Jacksonville team hungry for a win. With all the pressure solely on the shoulders of the San Francisco players, the entire team came out focused and put to rest any thoughts their opponents had of pulling off an upset.
The 49ers offense came into this game scoring 30 or more points in four straight and not only kept their streak alive, but did so easily, dismantling their opponent 42-10. With a week off, San Francisco will be able to get some much needed rest, and are a very dangerous team that is only getting better.
Offense – Grade: A
San Francisco scored a touchdown on their opening drive for just the second time this season, and followed that up with touchdowns on the next two possessions. The offense was unstoppable in the first half, and with a 28-3 halftime lead, coasted to another victory, pulling Colin Kaepernick and several starters early in the fourth quarter.
While in the game, Kaepernick was the star, doing it with both his arms and legs, all while spreading the ball around. He passed for 164 yards on only 16 attempts, rushed for another 54 and accounted for three touchdowns. He also had completions to five different receivers, taking what the defense gave him. However, it was the running game that not only gave the team the early lead, but ensured no dramatic comeback was in store for the Jaguars.
Frank Gore scored two touchdowns en route to his 19 carry 71 yard performance and Kendall Hunter, in limited action had a 41-yard and a 30-yard run that will force the coaches to give him more touches. As a team San Francisco rushed for 221 yards with an impressive 5.8 per yard average, and continue do the opposite of the rest of the NFL, using the run to set up the pass.
Defense – Grade: A
The 49er defense allowed a field goal at the end of the first half, and gave up a touchdown after a turnover gave the Jaguars the ball at the San Francisco 28. Other than those two blemishes though the defense was again outstanding. Maurice Jones-Drew had a modest day, rushing for 75 yards, but was held in check for most of the game, and 30 of his yards came on a run where his size had just as much to do with the run then his speed. NaVorro Bowman lead the team with 10 tackles, while Dan Skuta chipped in 6 and returned a fumble 47 yards for a touchdown.
The 49ers pass coverage has been the better part of the San Francisco defense all season, and they did a good job holding Justin Blackmon to just four catches. Chad Henne did pass for 227 yards, but was not very effective, and saw at least one 49er interception dropped. The lone bright spot for the Jaguars offense was Cecil Shorts who had seven catches for 74 yards, but was not nearly enough for the Jacksonville offense to keep pace. Eric Reid lead the secondary with eight tackles, continuing to leave himself in the conversation for defensive rookie of the year consideration.
Special Teams – Grade: B
Andy Lee and Phil Dawson were solid. Lee was only asked to punt once, sailing it 61 yards, while Dawson was only needed for extra points. The lone dark spot for the special teams unit was Kyle Williams. He fumbled the opening kickoff return, ran up to catch a kickoff before running out of bounds at the three in the second quarter, and extended his NFL lead in fair catches to 19. If there is any player who if in doubt should signal for a fair catch it’s Williams, but he appears to be looking to not mess up instead of making a play. While neither mishap really cost the team, in a closer game his mistakes or lack of ability to make a play could be serious.
This was the classic trap game for the 49ers as they entered the game on a roll, were playing a bad team and with injuries up and down the roster were certainly looking forward to their bye week. Instead of taking the Jaguars lightly though, the 49ers raced out to an early lead and never looked back. San Francisco was supposed to dominate their opponent and that’s what they did from the opening kickoff until the final whistle. Both sides of the ball continued to improve, and with Mario Manningham, Michael Crabtree, Eric Wright and possibly even Aldon Smith slated to return sooner than later, the team has yet to reach its full potential.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. Jerrell is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.