How the 49ers kept their momentum going with a 30-10 crush of the Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE, Fla .– When the 49ers kicked off Sunday’s game with a 20-game practice that lasted almost an eternity, and as the Jaguars ‘defense wore down, the 49ers’ defense sat and waited on the sidelines , became irritated.

“We were like, ‘We want to be a part of this game,’” said pass thrower Nick Bosa.

The growl was heard by assistant defensive line coach Darryl Tapp, who delivered a message that provided perspective.

“Tapp told us, ‘This is how you win,’” Bosa recalled. “And we were like, ‘Alright. “”

For the second time in seven days, the once-struggling 49ers used the same season-changing formula to win against an overwhelmed opponent who failed to recover after being crushed shortly after kickoff. The 49ers gutted the Jaguars 30-10 with a relentless rushing offense and punishing defense, and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo excelled at handling offense and possession time.

The 49ers rushed for 171 yards on 42 carries; allowed three runs, eight first downs and 137 yards in the first 54 minutes; and Garoppolo completed 16 of 22 passes for 176 yards with two touchdowns (126.3 passers).

Seems familiar? He should have. The 49ers had beaten the Rams by almost the same score – 31-10 – six days earlier and they started the party with an 18-game touchdown that lasted over 11 minutes. On Sunday, they set the tone with their 20-play, 87-yard march, which lasted 13 minutes and five seconds and included 14 points. This is the longest drive in the NFL since the Tennessee Oilers made a 1:27 p.m. drive on November 27, 1997.

Garoppolo mentioned that the first practice against the Rams may not have “crushed their soul” but “he did something”. And their statement of first practice against Jacksonville also left a mark. The 49ers (5-5) led 17-0 midway through the second quarter while dominating the Jaguars (2-8) in opening downs (14-0), total yards (170-11) total plays (33- 4) and possession time (19:52 to 1:43).

“It’s part of a team,” Garoppolo said. “And it’s been a long day.”

The victory suggests that even better days may be ahead for the 49ers, who hit the 0.500 mark for the first time since October 9. Yes, Jacksonville is not a good team, en route to its fourth straight double-digit loss season. But the 49ers used the same ingredients to get around the mighty Rams (7-3).

Is this seven-day period of domination lasting? There are a few reasons to be optimistic.

• Deebo Samuel, running back. The 49ers shouldn’t have had much success on the pitch. They didn’t have their dynamic leader, Elijah Mitchell, and one of the few things the Jaguars do well is defend the run: They came in allowing 3.9 yards per carry, placing fifth in the NFL.

Jeff Wilson and Trey Sermon? They were a meh duo. They rushed for 82 yards and averaged 2.8 yards per carry. But Samuel was a force. His eight-carry, 79-yard performances included runs of 12, 9, 25 (touchdowns), 11 and 21 yards. Samuel has 13 carries for 115 yards with two touchdowns in the last two games.

“He keeps improving, so we keep doing more,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan.

The 49ers gave Samuel carries in his first two seasons. But it is different. These were usually “runs” that came on field passes where Samuel was running on the move, moving sideways towards the line of scrimmage. Samuel, 6 feet, 215 pounds, now lines up in the backfield and often runs to the teeth of the defense. The 2019 49ers placed second in the NFL in rushing with three 500-yard rushers. It’s possible that Mitchell and a Liberal weekly dusting of Samuel could form a fierce combo.

“We’re going strong with Deebo,” tight end George Kittle said. “I mean, that’s one of the positions (if they are) like, ‘Hey, George, do you want to throw the ball? ” ‘Not really. There are a lot of big guys in there that hit real hard and they land on you and it hurts. The fact that Deebo does it without batting an eyelid is awesome.

• No turnover. The 49ers’ turnover margin in their first eight games: minus-9. In their last two games: +4.

They were able to play without error in part because they controlled the ball with their ground game. They had more than 42 runs in consecutive games for the first time since 1987, according to the Associated Press. In the aftermath of their nadir of the season, a 31-17 home loss to the Cardinals on Nov. 7, Kittle maintained that the cure for what afflicted them was not complex.

“We’re not returning the ball,” Kittle said. “We sat here after the Arizona game, kind of bear stuff in the building. Everyone is trying to fix these issues, and we literally said we need to stop turning the tide… and that’s all we’ve been doing for the past two weeks.

• Using Samuel as a running back comes at a price. Samuel, who was second in the NFL for receiving yards, caught a catch for 15 yards.

No problem. Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, after struggling early in the season, continued his comeback with seven receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown. And Kittle, who was gimpy at the start of the season before missing three games with a calf injury, hit a touchdown in his third straight game.

Meanwhile, Garoppolo posted a 100-plus assist rating for four straight games, marking the longest period of his career.

Shanahan noted that the 49ers’ offense is in great shape with some of its top playmakers consistently working together.

“You have Aiyuk playing like a real starting player,” said Shanahan. “Deebo. Kitten. I think this is the first time that we have these three weeks in a row.

Eric Branch covers the 49ers for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]


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