BAGSHOT, England – Here's' this week's Setting the Table: Storylines and stuff to watch as the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-7) prepare to play the San Francisco 49ers (5-2) at Wembley Stadium in London, England, on Sunday.
The week wasn't going to be normal.
Not with the Jaguars making their first trip to London.
But while the week will still be memorable and significant, it will have a more solemn tone than expected, with Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley's father, Roy James Bradley, passing away this past Sunday. He was 85.
Bradley was away from the team early in the week, with secondary coach DeWayne Walker serving as interim coach. Bradley is expected to return to the team later in the week.
On the field, the Jaguars head to London looking to quickly put in the past one of the most difficult games of a difficult season.
The Jaguars (0-7), after showing improvement in back-to-back losses at St. Louis and Denver, struggled in a 24-6 home loss to the San Diego Chargers this past Sunday. Bradley said afterward the team not only showed a lack of effort, but for one of the first times this season hadn't improved.
An early issue this week will be the Jaguars' quarterback position.
Chad Henne has started the last two weeks, and although he completed 23 of 36 passes for 318 yards, he threw no touchdowns with an interception. He has two touchdowns with five interceptions this season, having started Weeks Two and Three as well as the past two weeks.
Blaine Gabbert, who started the regular-season opener as well as Weeks Four and Five, has thrown one touchdown with seven interceptions this season. Gabbert missed the last two games with a hamstring injury.
Bradley has not committed to Gabbert or Henne as the long-term starter, and Walker declined to address the issue Monday.
The 49ers (5-2), last year's Super Bowl runners-up, early this season appeared on the verge of the slip that many previous Super Bowl losers have taken. They beat Green Bay at home in a much-hyped regular-season opener, but lost decisively at Seattle the following week before Indianapolis pulled away the following week to hand the 49ers a second consecutive loss. But the 49ers have been impressive since, staying within a game of the NFC West-leading Seahawks by winning four consecutive games by double digits. The 'Niners are once again one of the NFLs toughest defenses, ranking eighth overall despite the absence of pass-rusher Aldon Smith. Veteran Frank Gore remains one of NFL's most consistent, reliable running backs, averaging 4.3 yards per carry.
The game at Wembley Stadium in London, England, at 1:00 p.m. ET Sunday will be broadcast locally on FOX 30.
Early matchup to watch
Jaguars defense versus 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The Jaguars' defense as a whole is coming off one of its most disappointing efforts of the season, having allowed Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers to complete his first 14 passes and to finish completing 22 of 26 passes for 285 yards and a touchdown. The Jaguars' defense, which ranks 32nd against the run, allowed 158 yards rushing to San Diego, and the Chargers converted third downs with enough efficiency to reel off first-half drives of 80, 80 and 79 yards to take control of the game. Kaepernick is a vastly different challenge than Rivers or the Jaguars' previous opposing quarterback, Peyton Manning. He has rushed for nearly six yards a carry this season, throwing eight touchdowns and five interceptions.
Player to watch
Justin Blackmon. The Jaguars' second-year wide receiver caught 19 passes for 326 yards and a touchdown in his first two games back after a four-game suspension, but the third game was different. The Chargers' defense rolled coverages Blackmon's way and double-teamed him at times in the red zone. That's the approach teams take against go-to-receivers, and Blackmon is on the verge of that status. Blackmon still caught six passes for 58 yards, a sign he will be difficult to defend even with defenses focusing on him. How he handles new shading schemes, and how he effective he is dealing with different defenses, will be key to the offense moving forward.
What to watch
*Wide receiver Cecil Shorts III played through pain on Sunday, playing despite a sprained SC joint. His status likely will be updated Sunday.
*Blackmon played through a hamstring/groin issue, with his status also expected to be updated Wednesday.
*Defensive end Jeremy Mincey and wide receiver Stephen Burton each missed Sunday's game with concussions. Their status will be updated Wednesday.\