Knowing Your Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars

Coming off four straight wins, the 49ers are in London gearing up for Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, one of two winless teams in the NFL through seven weeks. But despite their record and some poor numbers on the stat sheet, the Jaguars have some talented players that won't allow San Francisco to sleep walk through the game. Inside we take a thorough look at the Jacksonville.

Jaguars' Statistics Through Week 7

Offense (rank)

Points per game: 10.9 (#32)

Yards per game: 282 (#32)

Passing Yards (per game): 219 (#21)

Rushing Yards (per game): ): 63 (#32)

3rd-Down Conversion Rate: 29.59 percent (#32)

Red Zone Scoring Rate (TDs): 27.78 percent (#32)

Defense (rank)

Points per game: 31.7 (#32)

Yards per game: 391.4 (#27)

Passing yards (per game): 231.8 (#14)

Rushing Yards (per game): 153.3 (#32)

Opponents 3rd-Down Conversion Rate: 42.71 percent (#27)

Opponents Red Zone Scoring Rate (TDs): 56.25 percent (#17)

AFC South Standings

Indianapolis Colts (5-2)

Tennessee Titans (3-4)

Houston Texans (2-5)

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-7)

Head Coach: Gus Bradley, first season.

A New Regime

There aren't many positive things to say about the 0-7 Jaguars. They're at or near the bottom of every major statistical category. Two weeks ago they managed to cover the biggest spread in league history (27 points) on the road against the Denver Broncos, losing 35-19 against arguably the best team in the conference. But they couldn't follow up that performance the next week at home, falling 24-6 to the Chargers.

The Jaguars came into the season with new ownership headed by Shadid Kahn. The auto parts mogul also recently purchased the Fulham Football Club of the English Premier league while committing to four games in London for the Jaguars through 2016, including Sunday's tilt against the 49ers. That commitment has lead to some speculating of the Jaguars might potentially move to London down the road. But given the logistical headaches, moving a franchise there might not be in the cards for the league.

But as dismal as the team has been in 2013, it's become a very important season. Jacksonville is shaping up to have a very high draft pick and have a great chance at the top-overall pick. With as many as five quarterbacks projected to go in the first round, there's a good chance the Jaguars will end up with their franchise signal caller next spring. Blaine Gabbert has struggled to show signs of being worthy of his 10th-overall selection in 2011.

Offensive Woes

Gabbert has missed the last two games with an ailing hamstring and has since been replaced by Chad Henne as the starter. Gabbert completed just 48.8 percent of his passes with seven interceptions to one touchdown in three starts. Henne has had back-to-back 300-yard performances in the last two weeks, but hasn't thrown for a score. Combined, Jaguars quarterbacks have a 60.7 quarterback rating.

One of the few bright spots for the Jaguars has been receiver Justin Blackmon. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy and fifth-overall pick started the season on sidelines after getting suspended for four games for violating the league's policy on substance abuse. But in his three games, he's notched 25 receptions 384 yards, instantly becoming the offense's best big-play threat.

"Their last three games they're averaging over 360 (yards), I believe. So, the evidence is on the tape when you watch it," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said this week. "And then the evidence is on paper when you look at their stats. And part of that's coincided with the return of Blackmon, too."

Blackmon's dealt with hamstring issues since coming back, but participated in practice this week and should be good to go in Sunday's game. He's caught nearly 70 percent of balls thrown his way in his three games back.

"They're a much improved offense right now when you compare them to earlier in the season," Fangio said.

Maurice Jones-Drew, 28, is in his eighth season with the team and is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry, a new career low. His previous mark was 4.2 in 2008.

Jones-Drew's numbers are a result of the struggling offense. Because the Jaguars have spent so much time playing from behind, only 35 percent of their plays have been runs, where they've averaged just 2.9 yards per attempt, the second-lowest in the league. But the team's inability to run the ball effectively hasn't changed Fangio's approach.

"He's a tough guy to play against. He's so different than most running backs that you see. Most running backs that are shorter are quicker and darters, and this guy, he's big. If he was six foot, he'd be 250 pounds," Fangio said.

A Talented Defense With No Help

Defensively, the story is very much the same, but the defense is the slightly stronger unit. Led by veteran lineman Jason Babin and linebacker Paul Posluszny, the Jaguars defense is allowing 5.8 yards per play (28th in the NFL) and a league-worst 31.7 points per game.

But there's more talent on Jacksonville's defense than the numbers would indicate. They have been a victim of the team's porous offense and have spent nearly 56 percent of the season on defense, which ranks toward the bottom of the league.

At the back end of the defense is rookie Johnathan Cyprien, who was taken with the first pick in the second round last spring out of Florida International. Like many of the safeties taken in the first round, Cyprien was linked to San Francisco before the team traded up to take Eric Reid.

Cyprien, playing strong safety, has struggled mightily while starting in his first pro season allowing quarterbacks a 144.5 rating when targeting him in coverage, including three touchdowns.

Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks has been an under-the-radar player according to offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who pointed out how effective the Auburn alum has been in the middle of their 4-3 defense.

"He gets off the ball as good as anybody we've played," Roman said. "He is off on the count and getting consistent penetration. So, while he's not getting the numbers, he's setting things up for everybody else quite a bit. So, we're very aware of him. Very good."

First-year coach Gus Bradley leads the Jaguars after spending the previous three seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Seahawks. Because of that, Roman said, the 49ers' offense has some familiarity with their defensive scheme.

"Very similar to Seattle. I wouldn't say exactly the same. I think they've definitely adapted their scheme to players. But, very similar," said Roman.

*Statistics from Pro Football Focus were used in this report*


Follow Editor in Chief Chris Biderman on Twitter.

Get updates from NinersDigest by following here.

Niners Digest Top Stories