49ERS AT JAGUARS PREVIEW, PREDICTION
The Jaguars return home to host the 49ers in week 11 of the 2021 NFL season. The Niners are coming off a statement win over the Rams on Monday Night Football. It was a dominant showing in a 31-10 victory. The Jaguars, however, are licking their wounds after a heartbreaking 23-17 loss in Indy.
The Jaguars designated starting center Brandon Linder and tight end James O'Shaughnessy to return from IR this week, and according to head coach Urban Meyer, they're both day-to-day. So is the heartbeat of the Jags' offense, running back James Robinson. Robinson suited up in week ten against the Colts and played well despite being limited with a heel/knee injury. The Jaguars will likely need Robinson to play to have a shot at establishing some consistency on offense. On Friday morning, Meyer said that Robinson is feeling "pretty good," but they're being "real cautious with him." Linebacker Myles Jack missed two days of practice this week with a knee but is good to go, according to Meyer.
For the 49ers, RBs JaMychal Hasty (ankle) and Elijah Mitchell (rib, finger) didn't participate in practice Thursday. Nor did DL Maurice Hurst (calf). WR Deebo Samuel (shin) was limited, as were CB Josh Norman (rib) and OL Jaylon Moore (knee).
49ers Offense vs Jaguars Defense
The 49ers boast a strong rushing attack. They're one of the few teams in the NFL that prefers to run the ball. In recent weeks, they've been focused on spreading the formation and running zone from the gun. They'll then tighten their formation and pass to try to take advantage of the opposing defenses packages. With receivers like George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk, the Jaguars' secondary faces a challenging test. San Fran has managed to eclipse 30 points in two of their last three contests. The Jaguars have one of the top run defenses in football; if they can slow down the 49ers rushing attack, they'll have a chance to dictate and force Jimmy G to throw the ball more than head coach Kyle Shanahan would like. The 49ers like to get the ball out fast, so Tyson Campbell, Shaquill Griffin, Rudy Ford, Rayshawn Jenkins, and Andrew Wingard will need to bring their hard hats because Samuel and Aiyuk are tough to tackle in space.
Josh Allen vs Trent Williams
Over the last month-plus, Jaguars' edge rusher Josh Allen has been one of the best pass rushers in the game. He's racked up 27 QB pressures and three sacks in his last four outings. But this week, he'll be up against the best offensive tackle in the game today. Trent Williams has long been one of the best and most complete offensive tackles in the NFL, but at age 33, he's playing the best football of his life. If Josh Allen wants to stake his claim as one of the most dominant young pass rushers in the league, he'll need to hold his own and win some reps against the mammoth Trent Williams.
The Jaguars' offense has been stuck in neutral that last few weeks. Between penalties, dropped passes, poor game planning, and some uncharacteristic mistakes from first overall pick Trevor Lawrence, first downs, let alone points, have been hard to come by. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell should plan to feature a run-heavy attack with James Robinson (if active), Jamal Agnew, and Laviska Shenault. With the Jaguars' strong run blocking offensive line and the 49ers' mediocre run defense, this strategy should get the chains moving and help Trevor avoid third and long early. When the Big Cats take to the skies, avoid isolation routes in favor of some easy stuff going by using pre-snap motion, rub routes, picks, play action, and screens. Avoiding 5+ offensive penalties and 5+ drops would help too. The 49ers run a base 4-3 and have talent all three levels with Arik Armstead up front, Fred Warner in the middle, and Jimmy Ward at safety, but they haven't been a highly effective unit against the run or the pass this year.
The Jaguars are 6.5 home dogs in this one. With the 49ers at 4-5, they're not exactly a super-powered club, but they have some high-end talent and an effective running game. With veteran QB Jimmy Garoppolo playing efficient football, slinging the rock to Deebo, Brandon, and George, I fear the Jaguars' defense will be, at times, outmatched. More concerning, however, is the Jaguars' offense. This young group has been up against it, facing some tough defenses over the last three weeks, but many of their wounds have been self-inflicted. If the Jaguars can get out of their own way on offense, this should be a close game that could ultimately come down to the final drive. With a short week and a cross-country trip, a 49ers letdown is possible. The 49ers have never won in Jacksonville. I'm predicting that'll change this Sunday, with poor kicking continuing to plague the Jaguars.
49ers 24, Jaguars 18
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