Well Faithful’s it’s been nice playing the likes of the Bears, Texans, and Titans over the past three weeks but now it’s time to start playing real teams again. We should not discredit our wins against tough defenses – Chicago is a top 10 defense and Tennessee is ranked 13th overall in yards allowed this season and Garoppolo tore both those defenses apart when he needed to (though the Titans have been considerably worse against the pass than the run). But we must also acknowledge that none of these teams are a potential Super Bowl challenging vintage.
Now Garoppolo meets one of the best defenses in football not only this year, but for a few decades, particularly against the pass. AJ Bouye and Jalen Ramsey have been a dynamic duo that’s been tough to beat. I’m not going to sugar coat it for you guys. This is the second best team we have played this year and we are not yet a team that is at a caliber to compete with them. That’s not to say that we won’t, but it is going to be an uphill battle all four quarters. For a win this week, naturally we would all look to our savior Jimmy Garoppolo to see if he will lead us to victory once more but is it time for someone else to shine in Levi too?
Allowing nearly 300 less passing yards than the next closest team, the Jacksonville Jaguars have been number one in pass defense this season. I was excited to be able to cover this piece because I’ve been following this Jacksonville defense since before this season started. With huge signings like Calias Campbell and AJ Bouye (I still cannot believe we made no moves for him) and incredible drafting with Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, and Yannick Ngakoue this defense is by far about as elite as you can get. With shutdown corners on both sides and a vicious pass rush, the Jaguars have made it clear to everyone they have faced that if you want to beat them, good luck doing it in the air.
In his three starts Jimmy GQ failed to eclipse 300 passing yards only once (293) which puts him at a total of 1,008 passing yards in three games. To put that in perspective WITH ABSOLUTELY NO COMPARISONS TO LEGACY, neither Joe Montana or Steve Young combined had that many passing yards in their first three starts. Garoppolo has been tearing up the league and everyone is starting to take notice. After coming off of a performance worthy enough to win both the Fed Ex Air Player of the Week and the Clutch Performer of the Week, it is starting to look like this young star is ready to take the league by storm. But he may need to step it up even more to come away with a win this week. The only critique anyone has been able to come up with for Jimmy thus far is his struggles to get into the end zone, in addition to his lack of production on deep passes. The former cannot all be blamed on Garoppolo though, our offense has tried really hard to shoot itself in the foot every time we get in scoring position with penalties. That has to change this week, unfortunately Jacksonville also happens to be the number one red zone defense as well. In away games this season, the Jaguars have only allowed 20% of red zone trips result in a touchdown… no one else is even close to those numbers. Garoppolo’s deep ball success is also unlikely to improve this week, with the Jaguars’ relentless pass rush and the coverage abilities of Ramsey, Bouye and free safety Tashaun Gipson at the back end.
Marquise Goodwin, may have something to say about all this however. He has started to come into his own with Garoppolo under center but other than that, we don’t have too much more to look forward to in the pass game. Yes, Celek and Taylor have had very good performances but we are going against elite NFL talent this week. Franchise quarterbacks can make the best out of nothing and without our own Antonio Brown that’s what we can hope Jimmy does this week.
To get a win we will need to see a skill that Jimmy has already shown flashes of, clutch. Not many out have that ability but Jimmy seems to. We will need him to come up with the big plays on crucial downs and manage the clock right, all of which he has been outstanding at so far. But for the love of God, please let someone protect him from the monster pass rush that will be coming his way all day. His reading of the defense will have to be incredibly sharp and unaffected by the rush inevitably bearing down on him whilst Shanahan’s scheme and play calling must be on point to try to take advantage of the Jaguars’ coverage principles which are predominantly single high looks. They do a few different things underneath which has helped contribute to quarterbacks misreading the defense and causing interceptions, mistakes that Garoppolo will have to try and avoid.
All eyes are on Jimmy Garoppolo this week but maybe that’s exactly what this guy wants. If we want to truly beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, we need to do it in the run game. That’s right, its Carlos Hyde’s turn to put the team on his back. Some may be concerned about Hyde’s lack of production as of late but let’s look at the three teams we’ve played. We have faced the 3rd (TEN), 10th (HOU), and 11th (CHI) ranked run defenses! No wonder he’s had a tough time. While Jacksonville shines in their pass coverage they are barely scraping into the top 20 of run stopping. To put it in perspective after seeing nearly 100 more rushing attempts, the 49ers have only given up an astonishing 54 more rushing yards than the Jaguars have. Not enough? Only three teams (Rams with 4.7, Patriots with 4.9, and Chargers with 4.8) have a yards per attempt average higher than the Jaguars’ 4.5.
If you heard our Podcast with Mike earlier this week you already heard this and much more. In their four losses this season the Jaguars have allowed an AVERAGE of 175 rushing yards. I don’t care who gets the yards this week, whether it’s Matt Breida, Carlos Hyde, Jeremy McNichols, or Zane Beadles (revenge game) but I’ll say it again TO WIN THIS FOOTBALL GAME WE WILL HAVE TO RUN THE BALL. Trust me, I understand you don’t want to hear that as a solution when our offensive line is so beat up and dysfunctional that we’re picking up guys off the street, but that is the key. We all know Hyde is playing for a job at this point so if he wants to have a career game, this is the week to do it. The Jaguars are undoubtedly undersized at linebacker (a reason they’re so good against the pass) and their defensive line are better pass rushers than run defenders. The 49ers should take advantage of their focus on the passing game as a defensive unit and gash them all game long.
I said it before, this team is arguably the second best we’ve seen all year and it’s going to show. If we come out ready to play we might be able to make some magic happen. No matter what happens I anticipate it to be a much better game than it would have been four weeks ago. Can we get the win, I hope so. Let’s see if we can spoil “Hat and T-shirt week!”