Where do the Jaguars need to improve as the game enters the second half, and where are they presently outperforming the visiting 49ers?
To put it mildly, the first half was not good to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars had just battled hard the previous two weeks, but a sluggish start once again hurt them on Sunday, as 49ers team surged out to a 20-3 halftime lead.
What did we observe in the first half, and what do the Jaguars need to do to improve in the second? Here’s where we break it all down.
The half-time shows
After a 20-play march by the 49ers to set up a field goal, one of the game’s defining plays happened midway through the first half.
The Jaguars finally seemed to knock the 49ers off the field with a third-down sack by Josh Allen after they picked up numerous first-downs via the run game.
Rayshawn Jenkins was called for holding on George Kittle as the Jaguars celebrated a crucial third-down success and a probable punt to give the offence the ball.
Once again, the 49ers controlled possession of the ball and drove downfield to score, establishing a commanding lead.
A 34-yard catch and run by Brandon Aiyuk and a 25-yard touchdown run by Deebo Samuel were the explosive plays that allowed San Francisco to score on the Jaguars’ second drive of the game. The Jaguars’ defence was unable to stop the 49ers, who again marched down the field and scored via two explosive plays.
After an eight-yard gain on a screen throw, wide receiver Laviska Shenault fumbled the ball back to the 49ers only one play later. It would be a few plays before Andrew Wingard recorded a tackle for a loss on third-and-goal for the 49ers. As a consequence, Rayshawn Jenkins was ejected from the game for throwing a punch at 49ers receiver Jauan Jennings, which resulted in an ensuing first down and subsequent score for the 49ers.
This one is difficult. For the first 20 minutes of the game, the Jaguars offence ran just four plays and had more fumbles than first downs until there was only 7:00 remaining in the half. With that said, give Trevor Lawrence credit for three 10-yard or longer plays in a row: a 10-yard scramble, an 18-yard throw to Tavon Austin, and a 16-yard pass to Shenault. Lawrence had a strong drive in which he completed his first four passes, which is promising given the remainder of the game.
The Jaguars’ pass-rush was also outperforming the rest of the defence. The Jaguars had a sack negated by a penalty, but they still had one sack and three quarterback hits on the opening three drives, repeatedly moving Jimmy Garoppolo out of his place and putting pressure on the immovable pocket passer. The pass-rush won the fight on the few occasions that the Jaguars forced him to hang onto the ball.
Where are the Jaguars falling short?
What about anywhere else? The Jaguars’ rushing attack has been non-existent so far, in part because the Jaguars’ offensive line has been bullied by the 49ers’ defensive front, and in part because James Robinson just does not look like himself. Robinson’s heel ailment has been bothering him since Week 8, and it seemed that it was still bothering him on Sunday, as he rushed with little explosiveness, earning just six yards on his first five rushes.
The Jaguars also failed to halt the supplementary components of the 49ers. While Samuel and George Kittle are key components of the 49ers attack, the Jaguars allowed Brandon Aikyuk to do the most damage in the first half. Aiyuk accounted for 60 of the 49ers’ first 84 yards in the air on four receptions, doing his damage in bursts of explosive plays.