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It certainly wasn't the best game the 49ers have played, but one could say it was the most complete. San Francisco limited the Jaguars to just three points, forcing 2 turnovers in the red-zone in the second half. Josh Scobee missed two field goals on the day, one a 21-yard attempt that bounced off the uprights. Jacksonville's second half hurry-up offense had the team moving and the Niners D reeling, but San Francisco was relentless and managed to force the Jags into key mistakes.
San Francisco's offense looked very productive for much of the afternoon, running a lot of shotgun formations with both Delanie Walker and Vernon Davis on the field. The tight ends took advantage of the opportunity; Davis scored his 9th TD of the year (6 catches, 69 yards) and Walker added 4 catches for 52 yards, and 11 yards on an end around. Alex Smith also capitalized out of the shotgun completing 65.9% of his passes for 232 yards and 2 TDs (the other to Frank Gore on a great grab in the end zone). Speaking of Gore, he struggled to gain much and was held to just 33 yards rushing and 14 receiving yards (on 7 receptions).
The 49ers defense was bending in the second half after stiffling the Jaguars in the first half. However, the unit came up big when it needed to most, sacking Garrard six times in the second half while forcing 2 fumbles in the red-zone (and recovering both). During the first half, the Niners didn't get as much pressure, but the coverage in the secondary prevented the Jaguars from getting much going (aside from a late drive that resulted in 3 points before the half ended). It was quite the opposite in the second half, as the Niners were pressuring Garrard often, but the secondary was getting beat just as frequently.
Overall, the team put forth a complete effort, never trailing in the game, and never in serious trouble of blowing a big lead. Alex Smith showed excellent poise in the pocket, and faced little pressure as the O-Line provided him with plenty of time to find his targets. Rookie Michael Crabtree had two drops, but also displayed his excellent Yard After Ctach ability as the 49ers handled the Jaguars and won the Time of Possession battle. Ahmad Brooks may be the unsung hero of the game, providing good pressure on Garrard for a good chunk of the game, seemingly the only one to do so in the first half. After the jump check out a drive by drive recap, and discuss your thoughts in the comments section.
1st Half Drive by Drive
The 49ers received the ball to start the game, and began their first drive on their own 20. San Francisco ran plenty of spread formations with 2 WRs, 2 TEs and 1 RB, marching down the field for 51 yards, settling for 3 points on a 46-yard field goald by Joe Nedney. Alex Smith only faced serious pressure once during the drive, resulting in an incomplete pass. Frank Gore had two carries out of the shotgun, and 2 receptions (18 rush, 10 receving yards). SF 3 - JAX 0
On the defensive side of the ball, the 49ers set the tone by allowing just one first down as Jacksonville came out in the shotgun formation for 3 of the 4 plays the team ran. Maurice Jones-Drew was stuffed on his first rush attempt, and a screen pass to the RB was also sniffed out and held to just 1 yard. The defense didn't get a lot of pressure, but managed to play tight defense and get the ball back in the offense's hands.
Receiving the ball on their own 6, the 49ers went three and out. Their lone run came out of the strong I formation, and Gore was hit for a 1 yard loss. On the 3rd and 8 play, Smith faced some pressure as protection on the left side broked down causing the incomplete overthrow. Andy Lee boomed a 55-yard punt, and a 2-yard return started the Jaguars second drive at the 37.
The defense responded again with a solid effort, limiting the Jaguars to just one first down. The Jaguars were out of the shotgun most of the drive, and the 49ers pressured Garrard nicely. Both Mark Roman and Kentwaan Balmer forced Garrard into a intentional grounding penalty, and Ahmad Brooks was in Garrard's face on the 3rd and 18. The Jaguars were forced to punt after a 5-play drive that gained 27 yards. A punt pinned San Francisco at their own 6.
The 49ers again came out spreading out the defense again, with two TEs in for most of the drive. San Francisco managed just one first down, and 15 of the teams 27 yards came on a facemask penalty. Andy Lee punted the ball 51-yards, but this time the coverage broke down and Jacksonville return man Witherspoon had a 42-yard return. The defense faced it's first real test of the afternoon, with the Jaguars starting in 49er territory at the 49.
On the first play of the drive, Manny Lawson nearly came away with a sack, but Garrard managed to shovel a pass off to MJD for 17-yards. The Jaguars then attempted a deep pass into the end zone out of 2 TE, 2 RB I-formation, but it fell incomplete, intended for Mike Sims-Walker. Jacksonville then attempted their next two plays out of the shotgun, but a great tackle by Michael Lewis stopped the Jags short on 3&9. Josh Scobee missed the 40-yard FG attempt, and the 49ers D came up big (with a bit of help) when facing their biggest test early in the game.
San Francisco took over on their own 30-yard and responded to defense's efforts by putting points on the board. The team went on a 10-play, 68-yard Touchdown drive that included 5 shotgun formations. The 49ers were utilizing the shotgun formation, by putting the TEs out wide. Delanie Walker had an 11-yard end around for a first down, and Vernon Davis capped off the drive with his 2-yard TD grab out of the heavy formation (2 TE, 1 T, 2 RB) off of a play fake. SF 10 - JAX 0
The Jaguars began their fourth drive of the game on their 22-yard line, looking to gain any momentum after falling into a 10-point hole. On 2nd and 7, Patrick Willis pressured Garrard up the middle, hitting the QB and forcing a wobbely pass that should've been intercepted by Manny Lawson. Lawson dropped the INT, but the defense held the Jaguars to 3 and out. After an 8-yard return the 49ers received the ball on the 35-yard line to begin drive #5.
San Francisco suffered their first 3 and out of the game, running two plays out of the shotgun. The lone play out of the I-Form heavy formation resulted in a Vernon Davis dropped pass, and on 3rd down Josh Morgan gained just 7 yards and the Niners were forced to punt. Andy continued to punt efficiently, drilling a 46-yarder inside the Jaguars 20-yard line. Mark Roman, however, was flagged for a 5-yd penalty for illegal touching, and the Jaguars started at their own 20.
What ensued next was Jacksonville's sloppiest drive of the half, which was another 3 and out. The team committed two penalties that prevented the Jags from getting anything going. Mike Sims-Walker pushed off of Tarrel Brown nullified what would've been a first down. While San Francisco didn't get much pressure on the drive, they were tackling well and held Rashad Jennings to 12-yards on a 3rd down screen pass. After a punt of 48-yards, Brandon Jones had a 13-yard return setting up the 49ers next drive.
San Francisco's sixth drive began on their own 41, and displayed an impressive offensive output that resulted in 7 points for the 49ers. The team ran six plays out of the shotgun (of the 9 plays), including 3 in the "goal-to-go" sitautions. Jimmy Raye called the 49ers best offensive play of the half on a 4th and 1 play that resulted in a 30-yard pass completion to Vernon Davis. The OC rolled the dice and instead of running, called a play-fake that left the stud TE open inside the Jaguars 10 yard line. Three plays later, Alex Smith found Frank Gore in the end zone who made a spectacular effort to keep both feet in bounds. Smith didn't face much pressure, and rolled out to buy time to cap off the drive with the TD. SF 17 - JAX 0
Jacksonville finally got on the board before half-time marching down the field to get into field goal range in just 4 plays that gained 60 yards. Mike Sims-Walker was a big target during the drive, catching 3 passes for 42 yards. The 49ers backed off of pressure, and the Jaguars capitalized to get 3 points before breaking at the half. HALF TIME SF 17 - JAX 3.
Second Half Drive By Drive
The Jaguars received the ball to start the second half and returned the kick-off to the 24-yard line. The Jaguars came out passing, and in the hurry up, driving into 49ers territory, first with a 30-yd pass to Ernest Wilford and a 12-yard pass to Mike Thomas. Dashon Goldson again displayed his poor tackling ability, letting Thomas slip by on an 18-yard quick hitter. The defense sured up it's tackling on the next play, holding MJD to a 2-yd loss on a screen pass. On 2nd and 12, Manny Lawson sacked Garrard and forced a fumble, which was recovered by Justin Smith for the first turnover of the game. Would the key red-zone turnover turn into points?
San Francisco began their 7th drive on their own 27-yard line, and needed to capitalize off the momentum-shifting play. The team marched 9 plays and 63 yards but had to settle for a field goal thanks to a Michael Crabtree drop in the end zone (his second of the drive). Crab's first drop came on a high pass from Smith, and responded on the very next play with a 20-yard reception that displayed the rookie's excellent YAC skills. After a 7-yd pass to Morgan that came up short on 3rd down, the 49ers settled for 3 points on a 27-yd FG by Nedney. SF 20 - JAX 3
The Jaguars responded with a lengthy drive of their own, trying to answer San Francisco's FG and get back into the game. The 49ers defense seemed to bending to the point of break during Jacksonville's 12-play, 77 yard drive. Garrard again had the offense in hurry up mode, and marched the team inside San Francisco's red zone. The 49ers couldn't stop MJD as he ran for 26 yards on the drive. Jacksonville had a nice mix of both shotgun and I formations, and the hurry up offense had the defense on it's heels. However, on a key 4th and 2 to begin the 4th quarter, Parys Haralson and Justin Smith sacked Garrard, who fumbled again in the red-zone. This time, Ray McDonald recovered the ball on the SF 21-yd line.
The 49ers couldn't turn this turnover into points as the offense responded with a 3 and out. San Francisco kept their shotgun strategy, but mustered just 2 yards on the drive. Alex Smith nearly threw an interception on 2nd and 10, but luckily the tipped pass fell to the turf. Andy Lee's fourth punt of the game went 43 yards to the JAX 21-yd line with no return.
Jacksonville again marched down the field and into the red zone, threatening to score and try to make a game of it. A big whiff by Dashon Goldson on MJD on a 4th and 3 gave the Jaguars life. Jones-Drew's effective running out of the shotgun put the Jaguards deep inside 49er territory. After Jacksonville lined up with MJD in the slot, Mike Singletary may have had the key play of the drive, sprinting onto the field to about the 15-yd line to call a timeout. The ensuing 3rd and Goal situation was swatted away by Shawntae Spencer, and the red zone follies continued for Jacksonville as Scobee doinked a 21-yd FG off the uprights. San Francisco took over at their own 20, looking to run out some clock and prevent any chance at a Jacksonville comeback.
The 49ers went on a 6-play, 5 yard drive that took some time off the clock, but didn't gain much of a field position shift. After gaining one first down, the 49ers went backwards losing six yards and forced another Andy Lee punt. Scott McKillop had a rare missed special teams tackle, and the Jaguars ended up with decent field position to claw back into the game.
Jacksonvilles 10th and final drive really didn't threaten much, as Parys Haralson, Takeo Spikes and Justin Smith all sacked Garrard during the Jags possession. Smith's sack came to seal the victory for the 49ers, and Ahmad Brooks' consistent disruption should not be overlooked on the drive either. Jacksonville ran 7 plays, gaining just six yards before turning it over on downs.
San Francisco's final drive needed at least one first down to ice the game, and they accomplished just that. Frank Gore ran for 13 yards on the final drive, and Alex Smith was able to kill out the clock after Gore's 6-yard run netted a first down after the 2-minute warning. We don't get to Smith take a knee often, but it was certainly an impressive way for the Niners to end the game, picking up a first down when they needed it. FINAL SF 20 - JAX 3