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Final analysis: The experts on 49ers-Jaguars


JACKSONVILLE – Each week during the 2021 season, Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton, J.P. Shadrick and Ashlyn Sullivan – will analyze the following day's Jaguars matchup.

Up this week:

The San Francisco 49ers at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.

Brian Sexton, senior correspondent

The Jaguars will win if: They're plus-two or better. The 49ers aren't playing as well as expected this season, but they're a very talented team with game-changing players on both sides of the ball. We know the Jaguars' formula for success this season: takeaways. If the Jaguars can give rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence extra possessions, and preferably short fields, they will be in position to win. The defense is for real, and takeaways are the next signpost on the road to success for that unit.

The 49ers will win if: They confuse the Jaguars' defense. The Shanahan System, used by 49ers Head Coach Kyle but perfected by his two-time Super Bowl-winning dad, Mike, is to get you into mismatches at the line of scrimmage. The defense must be at the top of its mental game on Sunday or 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will always have an open target.

As Sexton sees it: The Jaguars' defense is up to this challenge. It's a significant one with wide receiver Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle, who create problems all over the field. But San Francisco turns the ball over, which is the missing ingredient for Jacksonville. I think this is the game the Jaguars' defense stands up and makes the game-winning plays, taking the pressure off Lawrence. I think this is a win and a big lift for a home crowd that will leave happy for a second consecutive game.

John Oehser, senior writer

The Jaguars will win if: They play defensively as they have for the past three games, but mostly if they improve offensively. It may not be realistic to think the Jaguars will suddenly begin hitting big plays. They're struggling enough there that improving will take a while. But if they can convert a few more third downs, or improve marginally in the red zone, the defense is playing well enough to keep the Jaguars in games.

The 49ers will win if: They shut down running back James Robinson and run effectively. The 49ers are efficient offensively, which depends on running well to set up Garoppolo to make plays in a controlled passing game. The Jaguars have played well against the run this season, but Shanahan's run schemes are a different task than the Jaguars have faced this season.

As Oehser sees it: The Jaguars are playing as well as they have played in at least two seasons. Their defense has the look of a reliable unit. That should mean they will keep this game close – and it gives them a better chance at an upset than most observers believe.

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Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director

The Jags will win if: They have 40 percent or higher conversion rate on third down and force two turnovers. The Jags must sustain drives, get Lawrence in a rhythm and get offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell in a rhythm. They also need to create a couple of San Francisco mistakes. That will give them a chance for a win.

The 49ers will win if: Kittle has more than 100 yards receiving. He's the mismatch on the field for San Francisco. If Kittle gets going, that will open more things up for players such as Samuel. Those kinds of mismatches will help Shanahan dissect the Jaguars' defense.

As Martineau sees it: I'm wrestling with this one. The Jaguars can win, but my confidence level isn't high because of the offensive struggles. The Jags must show me some offense before I pick them. This will be a tight game, but the Jaguars will lose, 27-21.

J.P. Shadrick, senior reporter

The Jaguars will win if: They keep the 49ers from sustaining early long drives and finishing with scores. On Monday night, the 49ers set the tone with a methodical drive and melted the game away. The Jaguars have not proven they can rally down multiple scores late on offense.

The 49ers will win if: Their defense has a sound day. They aren't a takeaway machine, but there are a few players that can wreck a game plan: defensive end Nick Bosa, linebacker Fred Warner, cornerback Josh Norman (yes, that Josh Norman, who leads the league in forced fumbles) to name a few. If the 49ers get a couple takeaways from Lawrence, the Jags would be short on possessions.

As Shadrick sees it: This is a bit of an unknown since the franchises play so infrequently. It is a tough turnaround for the 49ers with a short week, a three-time-zone trip and an early body-clock kickoff. The 49ers are a game out of the wild card; it sets up the rest of the season if they win this week, so they should be up for it. The Jaguars are playing sound defense but are still trying to consistently produce on offense. The Jaguars have good opportunities this week and need to get over the finish line and get a couple of Ws.

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Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars

The Jaguars will win if: They continue to play defense with this same intensity and if defensive coordinator Joe Cullen continues to blitz creatively and often. And if they make plays down the field offensively. That might be the only thing keeping the Jags from truly turning the corner, at least to a degree.

The 49ers will win if: They overcome a schedule that causes teams great problems: play on Monday night, then take a long trip. It is a very tough formula to navigate. They must involve pass catchers Samuel and Kittle early as the Jags are becoming tougher and tougher against the run. And they better devise blitz packaging to harass Lawrence, similar to the way the Colts did.

As Frangie sees it: The Jaguars have the advantage here. They are at home during a normal week and the Niners are traveling during a short week. This will be a close one and could very well go in favor of the home team.

Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle

The Jaguars will win if: The defense makes the 49ers one-dimensional, stopping the run and forcing Garopollo to beat them. They probably need to get a few turnovers and create short-field opportunities for the offense, which has struggled to move the ball since the injury to Robinson.

The 49ers will win if: They get their zone run game going. That sets up their play-action pass game. If the 49ers and Garoppolo are forced to rely on a straight drop-back passing attack, they will struggle.

As Boselli sees it: This is a great opportunity for the Jaguars to get their third win of the year. It's a long trip across the country for the 49ers – and with a 10 a.m. West Coast kickoff, it should be an advantage for the Jaguars. Look for another good defense effort, resulting in a low-scoring victory for the Jaguars: 17-14.

Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end

The Jags will win if: The defense keeps the 49ers' elite players from making explosive plays. Samuel and Kittle are two of the best at their positions and can control tempo when the ball is in their hands – and at times when it is not. Cullen has his group playing hard and Sunday will have to be a consistent effort to find success.

The 49ers will win: If they run efficiently, enabling a Shanahan offense to do what it does best – which is to utilize play action. San Francisco put on a show of physical football Monday night against the L.A. Rams and will look to do so against a stingy Jaguars run defense. If they do, they will control the clock limiting opportunities for a struggling Jaguars offense.

As Lageman sees it: This Jaguars team must find some answers to their struggling offense. The last three weeks have only seen 33 points scored and has been a tough go for Lawrence. A healthier Robinson and some creativity with wide receivers Jamal Agnew and Laviska Shenault Jr. in the running game could take some pressure off of a passing game struggling to find success. It would also make it more difficult for Bosa to take advantage of the Jaguars tackles.


Ashlyn Sullivan, Jaguars team reporter

The Jaguars will win if: The defense gives them a chance … again. That is only way I see the Jaguars winning games the rest of this year. The defense must limit Kittle and Samuel. It's unlikely to think they will take them out of the game, but the biggest thing is limiting yards after catch. The Jaguars must give the offense a couple of extra possessions with turnovers; if they do that, the Jaguars have a chance to beat a very physical 49ers team.

The 49ers will win if: They rattle Lawrence and take away the Jaguars' running game. The only way the Jaguars can score points is when Robinson gets going. The 49ers' defensive line has Nick Bosa, who will be solely focused on ruining Lawrence's day. If the Jaguars' running game cannot get going, I worry how the offense will get in the end zone.

As Sullivan sees it: After watching the 49ers on Monday, this is a tougher opponent than I imagined. San Francisco is a confident team that is rolling right now with a ton of momentum; those teams are tough to beat. The Jaguars' defense will give them a chance, but I don't see how the offensive struggles are going to be fixed in a week.

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