The Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7) host the San Francisco 49ers (4-5) at TIAA Bank Field on Sunday. The game will begin at 1 p.m. EST and will air on FOX.
These two teams don’t know each other very well, as Sunday’s game will only be the sixth meeting of all time, and the first since 2017 (San Francisco leads the series with three wins to two for Jacksonville). So to help us get to know the 49ers 2021 better, we spoke to Tyler austin of Niners Nation – SB Nation’s website for all things Niners.
Is there any quarterback controversy in the Bay Area? How can Jacksonville attack the San Francisco defense? What do 49ers fans really think about Kyle Shanahan? Ty has answers to these questions and more.
1. While rookie quarterback Trey Lance has had some playing time this season, Jimmy Garoppolo remains the starter and continues to get nearly all of the reps lately. Which quarterback do 49ers fans want to start for the rest of the season, and do you think Lance is the quarterback of the future, or that San Francisco missed out on Lance’s pick?
Ty: It’s an incredibly loaded question and the kind of powder keg that could tip your usually very quiet group discussion into WWIII. From the moment Lance was drafted, the dividing lines were drawn and two factions formed. With every offseason training video released or any information leaked from training camp and every highlight of the preseason game, these two teams have become more and more grounded in their convictions.
On the one hand, there was revolutionaries Trey Lance, who believed the rookie should have been named a starter the second he set foot in the training facility. They would accept his growing pains for the benefit of his athleticism, which is a clear advantage over his predecessor. Likewise, he adds an element on the field and off the numbers to the passing attack that has been sorely lacking for years. Plus, the sooner he starts accumulating experience, the sooner he can reach his cap as a perennial MVP contender and Super Bowl winner. These are all very strong arguments.
On the other hand, you have the Jimmy Garoppolo loyalists, who believe that Jimmy has done nothing but win when he’s healthy, and he will continue to give the team the best chance of winning this game. season. This group sees the future is in Lance and likes the bright side, but they also believe that a veteran hand on the wheel for one more season could be enough for a deep playoff run. Obviously, the man is a beloved leader in the locker room, and giving the car keys to a new face so quickly could rub some players the wrong way. There’s nothing wrong with the rookie staying a year, taking a few situational snapshots, and going out full blast in 2022. These are all very solid arguments.
If I were to be a number, I would first say that it fluctuates from week to week. When things looked dire after losses to the Colts or Cardinals, I think you could have spoken of 75 percent of the fans to insert Trey Lance full-time to end the season.
After the Rams’ victory, and seeing as Garoppolo has been statistically well above average for the past three games, as the offense has shifted to heavy use of the shotgun to accentuate his quick passing strength, I think you could talk 60% about sticking with him no matter what. That’s as long as Lance can see the pitch for some special packages every now and then.
The next few weeks will really be a turning point. If the Niners can pick up steam with a win this Sunday, it looks like the Garoppolo train won’t be called back to the station anytime soon, and fans would be delighted to agree. What if things go off the rails? I would expect Lance to be on the slopes for at least the last month, and fans will say it should have been from day one.
2. The 49ers are eighth in the NFL in total defense (334 yards per game) and sixth on the pass (208.7 yards per game), but were not great against the run, placing 24th ( 122.8 yards per game). What made San Francisco so difficult to face, and what can rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville offense do to be successful on Sunday? Do you expect James Robinson and the Jaguars to be able to pick up yards on the ground?
Ty: The Niners’ pass defense has been a case for Jekyll and Hyde this season, with honestly a little more Hyde than Jekyll. What you don’t see in the 208.7 passing yards allowed per game are the 13 pass interference calls for a whopping 261 yards. Divide that by nine decks and you shoot an additional “allowed” 29 yards into the air, knocking the unit down towards the middle of the pack.
This problem, and a general lack of discipline in high school, reached its lowest point with the absence of Jimmie Ward in free safety and Jaquiski Tartt in strong safety. Meanwhile, Josh Norman was the long-term cornerback replacement for Jason Verrett who fell in Week 1 with a ripped ACL. The street free agent drew numerous penalties during his tenure, but, most costly, was a taunt call that erased an unsportsmanlike conduct flag on Kliff Kingsbury and gave the Cardinals a first down after quitting. ‘they failed to convert on the third down-and-18.
The main reason this hasn’t completely sunk the defense is due to the almost constant pressure created by Nick Bosa, who is currently the league’s double-most player, and Fred Warner’s otherworldly covering skills. at the linebacker position in the middle. of the field. Those two, along with the return of Jimmie Ward, sparked the Rams’ high-profile attack, which is no small feat.
As for the Jags, I would expect James Robinson to pick up a good number of yards, especially between tackles. With Javon Kinlaw lost for the season, the interior of the Niners line is lightweight for space eaters who can engulf their backs. They play undersized at these positions which can help put pressure on the quarterback, but not so much to stop the run.
For Lawrence, I would recommend shooting deep against Josh Norman. In the worst case, it could probably get a few DPI against it, or at best a long connection. If those cash in early and Robinson runs out of time, that could be a recipe for success against that defense.
3. Now in his fifth year as a head coach, what do 49ers fans think of Kyle Shanahan and his team? Do you expect Shanahan to stay in San Francisco for the foreseeable future?
Ty: At the start of the season, I think you would have found out that Kyle Shanahan would have been extremely popular with fans and respected by the NFL types of media. Between his Super Bowl run, six wins in 2020 given extensive injuries and the trade / pick of Trey Lance, everyone was feeling the love for our head coach.
Fast forward a month and a half, and all that goodwill evaporated faster than a drop of water in the dry, dry desert. Fans turned around quickly after the early-season slippage, pointing to a stagnant offense or the perceived mess of Lance’s development, which falls directly under his purview. Complaints about his handling of personnel choices, like Brandon Aiyuk’s doghouse or rookie icing Trey Sermon and Aaron Banks, have also sparked a lot of anger.
In the eyes of many, the proverbial hot seat has started to boil, and a few have suggested that he join the unemployment line in the near future. Although this fantasy managed to carry on for a few weeks, there was never a reality in which it would occur.
Shanahan signed a six-year extension after the Super Bowl, so the 49ers will pay him until 2025 whether he’s the head coach or not. He has a good relationship with the property and its GM, unlike a certain man from Michigan, and seems to be appreciated by his top players. Plus, Lance’s great swing should protect him from as many first-round picks he gave up for the future quarterback.
So let’s come back to his job security in 2023-2024.
4. After a surprising and resounding victory over the The Los Angeles Rams, do you expect the 49ers to have a run in the second half of the season? Is it a playoff team? Why or why not?
Ty: The first half of the season was a bumpy one for the 49ers and fans alike, but things finally seemed to be working out against the Rams. For a week, the team that everyone felt they had been promised showed up and showed up. Hopefully it wasn’t just a fleeting moment where all parties finally jellied for a resounding victory, but rather a real turning point.
If, and it’s a BIG if, the team can stay at that level of health all the way down the home stretch, I think they have a playoff run. At the very least, circle that seventh place as a pretty achievable goal. Shanahan reshaped the offense to better suit Garoppolo, the running game exploded, George Kittle came back to 100% and Deebo Samuel became one of the best wide receivers in the game. Add those coins up, and the offense shoots. at full speed. That alone should explain a playoff appearance.
5. Is there an under-the-radar player on offense and one player under the radar on defense that can make an impact on Sunday that Jaguars fans may not be familiar with?
Ty: After Monday night’s game, Elijah Mitchell may not count as an under-the-radar player anymore, but I think if you’re a sixth-round pick, who missed most of training camp / preseason , you can count as under the radar. The rookie running back flourished as a replacement for Raheem Mostert and edged out Trey Sermon, the most selected and the best pedigree. Expect a big dose of Elijah Mitchell this Sunday.
As far as defense goes, I would shout out Azeez Al-Shaair, who took over the WILL linebacker for the injured Dr. Greenlaw. He immediately established himself as a quick, instinctive and physical presence in midfield. He totaled 60 tackles and five solo tackles for a loss. In Monday’s game, Al-Shaair brought so much heat that he actually folded his face mask! Rather soft.
Bonus: score prediction?
Ty: The Niners will have to travel across the country and across multiple time zones for this one, but in the past, that hasn’t done much to slow them down. I’m basing this prediction on the Niners’ most recent outing, and I hope and pray that they manage to stay at that level. If they do, I think this one should be a relatively relaxed outing for them, otherwise this playoff run might have to be put on hold.
49ers 38 – Jaguars 20
If you’d like to read my answers to Ty’s question, those can be viewed on Niners Nation.