Week 16 Tale Of The Tape: Jacksonville Jaguars At San Francisco 49ers
- QuarterbackThere are still quite a few critics that don’t want to give Blake Bortles his due, but there is little doubt that he has improved quite a bit and has given the Jaguars decent quarterback play. We are not going to anoint him as one of the best in the game, but he has a respectable 16-8 TD interception ratio and he has made some clutch throws that he could not have managed in the past.Prediction: When you pick up your favorite preseason NFL magazine next summer, you will see Jimmy Garoppolo on the cover. “Jimmy G” is about to become the next pro football darling, and while he doesn’t have much of a track record, everything he has done is positive to this point. The 49ers appear to have found their QB of the future, and it would be wise if they could lock him down shortly.
- OffenseThe Jaguars made a tremendous move when they drafted Leonard Fournette in the first round, and he has given them a productive running game with 923 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Marqise Lee has become a fine receiver who has caught 56-702-3, while Allen Hurns remains a reliable receiver with good hands. Marcedes Lewis is an up-and-down tight end and it may be tough to rely on him.The Niners have not given Garoppolo a very talented cast of characters to work with, and this team will need a major upgrade at the wide receiver position. Carlos Hyde has been a fairly steady and dependable running back, and he has fumbled just once on his 188 carries. Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor are two of Garoppolo’s targets, and they need to do more.
- DefenseThe Jaguars have made major strides on defense and they have been able to turn games in their favor largely because of their talent at getting to the quarterback. Calais Campbell has been a difference maker since the first week of the season with 12.5 sacks while Yannick Ngakoue has 11.0 sacks and a very quick first step. Cornerback A.J. Bouye had six interceptions and 23 passes defensed.The Niners don’t have the kind of talent at this point that will allow them to take over a game and just shut down and opponent. They are hoping that rookies Reuben Foster and Solomon Thomas can develop into those kinds of players. Veteran Elvis Dumervil leads the team with 5.5 sacks, but the pass rush has been a disappointment for rookie head coach Kyle Shanahan.
- Special TeamsThe Jaguars have done a decent job in the return game, as they have a positive differential on both punt and kickoff returns. Jaydon Mickens is emerging as a factor on punt returns and as a receiver. Josh Lambo has made 16 of 17 FG attempts.The Niners have nearly had double the productivity of their opponents on punt returns, and that has helped give them decent field position. Placekicker Robbie Gould has had a renaissance season, making 30 of 32 FG attempts, including game winners in two of the past three weeks.
While we have given the Niners a slight edge at quarterback, Jacksonville has a huge edge on defense and the Jaguars may dominate in that area. It will be tough for Jimmy G to remain undefeated against this opponent.