The Jacksonville Jaguars will get a big piece of the puzzle back for their Week 16 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. Rookie running back Leonard Fournette is returning to practice on Wednesday after sitting out Week 15 with a quadricep injury. He was a DNP all last week and inactive on Sunday against the Houston Texans.
The Jaguars lead the NFL in total rushing yards, and are tied for eighth in yards per carry at 4.4. Football Outsiders ranks their rushing attack No. 14, and Leonard Fournette No. 12 in DYAR and No. 13 in DVOA. It is interesting to note that they rank No. 11 in adjusted line yards, but No. 1 in open field yards. That suggests they’ve got some quality talent on both the line and at running back, but the backs have been a little more responsible for the work.
The 49ers currently rank No. 7 in yards per carry (3.8). Football Outsiders ranks them No. 16 in defending the run, and No. 20 in adjusted line yards. The 49ers rankings are all fairly close between adjusted line yards, second level yards, and open field yards. The overall defensive unit has developed a little more consistency this season after a historically bad 2016 season.
The 49ers already face a huge challenge on offense against a strong Jaguars defense. Their best shot at a win will likely be in a fairly low-scoring affair. Containing Leonard Fournette and the ground game will be critical. Blake Bortles is playing some solid football this season, but there is enough inconsistency that the 49ers can spring an upset if they can put the game on Bortles’ shoulders.