JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2017 season, eight Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton and J.P. Shadrick – will break down the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if:Keep a balanced attack on offense. Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has played the best football of his career the last three weeks. Jacksonville must be able to do the same in San Francisco.
The 49ers will win if: Slow down 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Much like Bortles, Garoppolo has been outstanding the last three weeks. The Jags' top-scoring defense must continue at its pace.
As Ballou sees it:Jaguars, 24-14. The Jaguars exorcise a demon by winning out west and clinching the AFC South.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: They stay focused – and don't get caught up in the postseason implications and all of the talk. For a young team, they've done a nice job of blocking out the outside noise – including the good noise they are hearing now. Head Coach Doug Marrone should get massive credit for that. If the Jaguars stay focused and just go play, they should be fine.
The 49ers will win if:They can protect Garoppolo early, get him into a rhythm and gain early confidence – and somehow force the Jags into some uncharacteristic mistakes. San Francisco will need Jacksonville to make a mistake or two to win.
As Frangie sees it:The Jags again should be OK if they just keep doing what they have been doing. They have the better team and have been playing well. Don't get ahead of yourself, don't think about tomorrow. Stay in the moment and the Jags win.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if:If they control the surging 49ers offense and their quarterback. Garoppolo is playing at a high level given his limited experience as a starter and quickly has found chemistry with his weapons. Carlos Hyde is a solid running back that can provide balance; the Jaguars must make him a nonfactor to put the pressure all on Jimmy G.
The 49ers will win if:If they can control the Jaguars' ground game and force the NFL's hottest quarterback – Bortles – into some mistakes that have not happened recently. San Francisco has highly-drafted players in its front seven capable of making big plays that can make up for some of the less-than-stellar play at cornerback.
As Lageman sees it:With a division title on the line, the Jaguars will have a focus and determination similar to last week. The 49ers' defense will have a tough time stopping a balanced Jaguars offense. The 49ers' offense has not seen a defense like the Jaguars, and Garoppolo will make mistakes as he will be harassed in the pocket consistently.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if:They disrupt Jimmy Garoppolo's rhythm in the pocket. The 49ers are 3-0 since he became the starter and he has the offense operating at a much more efficient level. Hitting him and moving him off his spot will be critical. Offensively, the Jaguars need to take advantage of a below-average 49ers secondary. There are big plays to be had in the passing attack for the Jaguars.
The 49ers will win if:They* can win the turnover margin and create scoring opportunities from the defense and special teams. The 49ers are not good enough to go toe to toe with the Jaguars. They need to win the turnover battle by plus two and offensively they must limit hits on Garoppolo. If they can, they have a chance to pull one out late.*
As Boselli sees it:Jaguars win the game late, 24-14, and secure the first division title since 1999. I can't see the 49ers' offensive line or secondary holding up against the Jaguars. It will be a long day for Garoppolo and he will have his first loss as a starter.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if:They can slow down Garoppolo. It's not that I'm questioning this Jaguars defense, but Jimmy G is playing as well as any quarterback in the league right now – and has yet to lose as a starter. Of course, he hasn't played this kind of defense. If the Jags stay focused, like they've been all year, Jacksonville should be able to win on the west coast.
The 49ers will win if: They can run the ball against the Jaguars with moderate success and if they see the early-season Bortles instead of the Mr. December Bortles. San Francisco is not as bad as the record indicates and the 49ers are getting better, but they still don't have the talent the Jaguars have overall.
As Martineau sees it:I've been talking about this being the hardest remaining game on the Jags schedule for two months. I did not have a good feeling about the Jaguars going west on Christmas Eve against a struggling team. I feel different now. I think the 49ers' resurgence will keep the Jags eyes on the task ahead and I really think the Jaguars want to keep this momentum going. The Jags will take care of business, win the AFC South and have one heck of a flight home from the west coast.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if:They harass Jimmy G. into mistakes. Garoppolo has been good in three starts, but hasn't faced a defense as fast and aggressive as that of the Jaguars. If the Jaguars force two turnovers that set up scores, they will win. The guess is that will happen.
The 49ers will win if:Garoppolo can handle the frenzy. He is a poised player. He has been accurate and calm under pressure. But if the Jaguars get a lead in this game, Garoppolo will see a pass rush with speed behind it that has forced a lot of experienced quarterbacks into a lot of mistakes this season.
As Oehser sees it:This is another big test for the Jaguars. The 49ers have improved in recent weeks and they're still a motivated team despite being out of the playoffs. The Jaguars will have to earn their first division title in 18 years Sunday, but they will earn it.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: They get after Garoppolo and throw him off his rhythm. Their 0-9 start tells you the 49ers aren't a deep or talented roster but Garoppolo already has something working with wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, which gives Hyde and the running game a little room to operate behind an offensive line that isn't very good. Garoppolo looks comfortable in his new surroundings and has been there less than 60 days, which tells you how good he is and how good Head Coach Kyle Shanahan will be with San Francisco. Get after Garoppolo while the getting is good.
The 49ers will win if:The long trip west wears on the Jaguars. The Jaguars are one of the game's best teams playing for their first division title in 18 seasons with legitimate hopes for a first-round bye. In other words, they have a lot more at stake than the 49ers. If the long plane ride erodes the Jaguars' focus or deadens their legs, the 49ers are equipped to pull the upset – which is what they did to the Titans last week. But Tennessee is a team sliding to the finish line while the Jaguars are roaring into the playoffs. If the Jags get off the plane ready to play, it will be tough for the 49ers to repeat last week.
As Sexton sees it:Conventional wisdom says this is a game the Jaguars of the last ten years almost definitely lose; they haven't won on the West Coast since 2005. But why think conventionally about this team? Jalen Ramsey admonished the media a few weeks ago for looking at these Jags through the lens of those Jags and he was right. I think this team is too talented, has excellent leadership from within and is coached as well as it has been since Tom Coughlin roamed the sidelines. I say they go west and come home with the AFC South Division banner flying from the tail of their airplane.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if:Bortles continues to play as he has the last month. He's the highest-rated quarterback in the NFL in December. Could this be the Bortles we get used to? Either way, ride the wave to the division title and beyond.
The 49ers will win if: Garoppolo has time to be Garoppolo. He's undefeated with a 49ers team that could not get anything done before he arrived. The Jags must get pressure on him and put him on the ground.
As Shadrick sees it:Even if the division is decided by a Titans loss before the Jags kickoff, that should not matter. Seeding possibilities are still there, and you want to keep this good football going in the final month. Go win the division, and be ready if the Patriots or Steelers slip up and lose one of the top two seeds. It is a long trip on a holiday week, but this should be a Jags victory to secure the AFC South.