Steve Wilks came out of the bye week with much-needed changes. Javon Kinlaw started the game as the fifth defensive lineman as opposed to a third linebacker or fifth defensive back.
Then, on second down, Ambry Thomas, yes, that Ambry Thomas, came onto the field when the Niners elected to go into their nickel defense. Arik Armstead’s sack on third down forced a three-and-out.
After the Jaguars failed to gain a yard on their first drive, the 49ers marched 57 yards in just over two minutes after George Kittle was wide open for 29 yards. Purdy had one of those, “no, no, yes!” throws in the back of the end zone to Brandon Aiyuk to give the Niners a 7-0 lead.
San Francisco’s defense had similar success in their second series. Chase Young saw the field, and that allowed Wilks to move Nick Bosa around and line him up over the center. Pressure once again got to Trevor Lawrence, as Javon Hargrave brought Lawrence down to force a second consecutive three-and-out.
The Jaguars picked up a first down on the ensuing drive. Arik Armstead walked off the field gingerly with a noticeable limp. The replay showed Armstead getting tripped by a Jacksonville offensive lineman. Arik returned on third down, and Jacksonville punted for the third consecutive series.
It looks like the 49ers offense would pick up another first down, but a rare offensive pass interference was called on Brandon Aiyuk. The Niners couldn’t overcome the penalty and were forced to punt for the first time.
The Jaguars took over with favorable position after an impressive return from Christian Kirk. Travis Etienne rushed for 16 yards, but a delay of game set the Jaguars back to make it 2nd & 15. And hello, Chase Young, who would make his first sack as a 49er. Nick Bosa met him at the QB to force a fumble and give the 49ers a short field.
A Trent Williams hold set the offense back, so the 49ers were unable to capitalize. Mitch Wishnowsky did his job with a 56-yard punt that pinned Jacksonville on their 1-yard line. Jacksonville entered Sunday with the highest usage rate in the NFL on screen passes.
That’s a great way to neutralize a pass rush. So is throwing it quickly, which is what Jacksonville did to Kirk. Kirk beat Deommodore Lenoir for 17 yards. Kirk also beat Dre Greenlaw for 15 yards earlier in the drive. But Charvarius Ward broke up a slot fade against Kirk to hold Jacksonville to a field goal.
That gave the 49ers had a golden opportunity before the half. They’d have a chance to score and would receive the ball to start the third quarter. McCaffrey had a 17-yard gain, and, eventually, the offense got as close as the Jaguars' 11-yard line. But a wonky intentional grounding play.
There was an obvious missed call on Colton McKivitz, so there was a penalty coming no matter what. Regardless, the 49ers wound up getting points and took a 13-3 lead into halftime.
The 49ers came out of the locker room with bad intentions. Deebo gained nine yards on first down. Then, on 2nd & 1, Purdy hung in the pocket, found George Kittle on an out-and-up route, and threw a perfect pass to Kittle who out-raced.
The defense answered themselves, as Bosa hit Lawrence and forced an errant throw into the arms of Talanoa Hufanga. But the offense couldn’t score, which gave the Jaguars life.
Kirk caught a 39-yard pass over Lenoir. He gave the Niners secondary fits all afternoon. An unusual hero arose, as Ambry Thomas stripped Kirk of the ball. Thomas recovered, pounced on it, and got up to return the fumble for a potential touchdown.
But rookies Ji’Ayir Brown and Dee Winters ran onto the field. To be fair, so did Kyle Shanahan. No harm, no foul, though.
An 81-yard drive that featured explosive plays from Aiyuk, Deebo, and a 23-yard reverse to Samuel to make the score 27-3.
Lawrence threw a perfect pass on his next dropback, but it was right to Fred Warner. McCaffrey gained 15 yards on first down, then Purdy, after scrambling, found Kyle Juszczyk wide open for 22 yards. Loud chants of “Juuuuice” were heard from the stands to make the score 34-3. The teal in the crowd evacuated, and all that was left was red and gold.
Purdy finishes the day completing 73 percent of his passes and threw three touchdowns for 296 yards. Not too shabby against a supposed elite defense.
Unsurprisingly, the defense forced another punt. Kudos to the run defense, as the 49ers had their best performance of the year. Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw looked the part. It’s no coincidence that the pass rush came alive. That’s because the Jaguars had longer down and distnaces to go and were forced into obvious passing situations.
The 49ers did everything in their power to continue McCaffrey’s streak, but CMC ran a pattern short of the end zone on 4th & goal.