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Jaguars bench Blake Bortles in lost season

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It could always be worse.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers 2018 season has been a disaster. They lost their franchise quarterback and a big free agent addition to ACL tears, and plenty of second and third year players have struggled to make a leap the team was hoping for. Playoff hopes went out the window when Jimmy Garoppolo was lost for the season, the team has now released a 2017 first round pick, and the season is now about survival and assessment for 2019.

But at least we’re not Jaguars fans.

The 49ers are worse than the Jaguars in a lot of respects, but considering the team was in the top ten in Super Bowl odds heading into Week 1, this has been a tremendous fall. 49ers fans had high expectations, but most of us were not thinking the team was in their Super Bowl window. The Jaguars were a team that was hoping to get over the top this year.

Instead, they are currently 3-8 after losing 24-21 in Buffalo. It is the Jaguars seventh straight loss, and change is afoot. On Monday, head coach Doug Marrone fired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Later in the day, the team announced quarterback Blake Bortles has been benched and Cody Kessler will start this week against the Indianapolis Colts.

I have no idea what Blake Bortles future holds, but it seems unlikely he remains in Jacksonville for too much longer. They signed him to a sizable extension this offseason, a three-year deal that included a $15 million signing bonus, a fully guaranteed $5 million salary this year, and $6.5 million of his 2019 salary guaranteed. He also has a $1 million roster bonus due on the fifth day of the 2019 league year. They are near the bottom of the league in 2019 cap space, and a pre-June 1 cut would clear $4.5 million in cap space while saddling them with $16.5 million in dead money.

The Jaguars entered the season with a high profile defense, and while that unit is not atop the league, it’s playing decent football. They entered Week 12 ranked sixth overall in defensive efficiency. They haven’t been great or overly consistent, but the unit could be a lot worse.

Jacksonville needs to figure out its quarterback position, and the 49ers could enter the mix here. Given what they’ve invested in Bortles, their best opportunity would be finding a quarterback in this year’s draft. It would provide some cost control at a critical position and give them an opportunity to figure out what’s after Bortles. Bill Barnwell offered up something that could intrigue 49ers fans.

If the 49ers have the No. 1 pick, or any pick ahead of the Giants, quarterback-needy teams will almost certainly come calling. The Cardinals and Raiders are also unlikely to draft a quarterback with their top pick. I suspect the Jaguars will be on the phones with all three teams if they remain ahead of the Giants in the draft order.

But in the meantime, this season has been a disaster for the Jaguars, and I would argue worse than the 49ers. Some will say just focus on the 49ers and don’t worry about other teams, but I’ll take silver linings where I can find them. And at least we’re not Jaguars fans.