JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines five key plays from the Jaguars’ 34-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in a 2023 Week 10 game at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville Sunday
- Kittle for double sixes. While Sunday got one-sided enough that few second-half plays felt “key,” the first half – and early second – had multiple momentum-changing moments. Perhaps the biggest came early in the third quarter, with the 49ers taking permanent control of what was a one-score game late in the first half. The 49ers led 13-3 at halftime and received the second-half kickoff. On the second play of the possession, on second-and-one from the 49ers 34, 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy faced heavy pressure and threw high down the right sideline to tight end George Kittle. The veteran Pro Bowler got a step behind linebacker Devin Lloyd, whose dive allowed Kittle to run score easily for a 66-yard touchdown and a 20-3 lead with 14:10 remaining in the third quarter. “I think we had a good week of practice but I’m telling you, every week is week-to-week,” linebacker Foye Oluokun said. “The energy you bring into the game, when you think, this stuff is just expected to happen because you practiced it, you have to bring the right energy to the game and go out there to make those plays happen.”
- Quick six. The Jaguars faced their first serious adversity – and biggest deficit – in nearly two months early Sunday. The 49ers, after forcing a three-and-out on the Jaguars’ first possession, used four plays to drive 57 yards for a quick touchdown on their first possession. Purdy capped the drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk that cornerback Tyson Campbell appeared to have a chance to defend in the middle of the end zone. Purdy rolled left and threw back across the field to Aiyuk for a touchdown that gave the 49ers a 7-0 lead with 11:34 remaining in the first quarter. The play marked the second time the Jaguars had trailed since a Week 3 loss to the Houston Texans at EverBank Stadium and marked Jacksonville’s biggest deficit since that game. “We failed to execute on the opening drive defensively,” Head Coach Doug Pederson said.
- (Another) fuuuuumble. The Jaguars entered Sunday focused on eliminating turnovers following the self-scouting of a Week 9 bye. Not only did they eliminate the giveaways, but they also committed a season-high four – their most since a Week 4 loss at Philadelphia last season. Perhaps the most damaging turnover came in the third quarter. With the Jaguars driving and trailing 20-3, quarterback Lawrence threw to wide receiver Christian Kirk for a three-yard gain to the 49ers six-yard line. “I think he was held up and I think the ball got punched out,” Pederson said. “I don’t think it was necessarily him fighting for an extra yard.” Said Kirk, “You have to hold on to the ball.” Kirk’s fumble was recovered by cornerback Ambry Thomas. He returned it 92 yards for a touchdown that was nullified by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the 49ers. But 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel capped the ensuing drive with a 23-yard touchdown that pushed the lead to 27-3 and further secured the victory for the 49ers. “You just can’t do that,” Pederson said. “It’s a matter of whoever has the football, take care of the football. That’s your job, bring it back to the huddle, let us play another down.”
- Three before half. The game was a defensive, low-scoring matchup in the second quarter, which gave the 49ers’ last possession of the half a critical feel. A 17-yard pass from Purdy to running back Christian McCaffrey provided the key, giving the 49ers possession at the Jaguars 45. McCaffrey then converted third-and-two with a two-yard run to the Jaguars 35. The Jaguars stopped the 49ers short of the end zone, but kicker Jake Moody’s 35-yard field goal on the final play of the half capped an 11-play, 61-yard drive that gave the 49ers a double-digit lead that seemed big at the time considering the flow of the game.
- Out of the shadows. The Jaguars struggled to gain momentum through much of the first half, then they got it – at least a bit – with one of their most impressive drives of the season. After a 49ers punt was downed on the Jaguars 1, Lawrence drove the Jaguars 80 yards on 14 plays. Kicker Brandon McManus’ 37-yard field goal cut the 49ers’ lead to 10-3 with 4:20 remaining in the second quarter. As important in this sequence was the Jaguars’ defense on the previous series. After the 49ers took possession on their 48 after a sack/fumble/recovery by defensive end Nick Bosa, the Jaguars’ defense forced a punt to prevent the 49ers from extending their lead despite good field position.