Photo credit: @ESPNStatsInfo
By: Joe Lami
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The 49ers saved the best for last on Faithful Appreciation Day, as they put up their highest point total of the season in a 44-33 victory over the AFC South Champion, Jacksonville Jaguars, at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday.
The Jimmy Garappolo show is thriving in Santa Clara as San Francisco has won four straight games for the first time since the 2013 season–the last one played at Candlestick Park. The Niners have also won five of their last six and might as well be the hottest team in the NFL, especially with a victory against one of the best teams in the league.
The buzz surrounding the 49ers is impressive for a five-win team in December. but is felt all around the locker room and the minute one walks into Levi’s Stadium.
Jacksonville secured the playoff spot right as the game kicked off with the Rams’ 27-23 victory over the Tennessee Titans, but played their starters the entire game, yet it still wasn’t enough.
Sunday marked the first time in NFL history with a final score of 44-33 as it played very similar to a basketball game with both teams going on runs.
San Francisco started hot out of the gate. Garoppolo marched the offense immediately down the field on a 79-yard drive lasting 4:42, capped off by a Garoppolo punch-in touchdown. The Niners would go up 16-0 before the Jags got on the board, thanks to a 27-yard Robbie Gould field goal and a 50-yard pick six from Dontae Johnson.
On the ensuing point after attempt, Gould’s PAT was blocked and returned for a two-point conversion by Aaron Colvin. The special teams’ play was enough to jump-start the Jags’ offense, as they were able to string off 19 straight points to take the 19-16 lead with 10:26 left in the third. However, San Francisco would recapture the lead with 6:46 to go in the third and not look back.
San Francisco’s offense saw contributions by nearly everyone. Garoppolo ran one touchdown in and threw for two. George Kittle and Trent Taylor were the recipients, while Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida also ran in touchdowns.
Brieda finished the day leading the team in rushing yards with 74 over 11 carries, while Hyde carried the ball 21 times for 54 yards.
Pro-Bowl fullback Kyle Juszczyk led the team in receiving yards, as he caught all five targets for 76 yards. Kittle was also perfect, catching all three targets for 42 yards. Garoppolo did an excellent job of spreading the ball around as nine different Niners had at least one reception.
Most impressively, the offensive line stopped one of the best pass rushes from getting to Garoppolo, as “Sacksonville” only sacked Garoppolo once.
San Francisco’s recent performances would be nothing without the work of the defense. The strongest third of the 49ers’ season has been getting overlooked now that they have support from the offense, but once again, they were a vital part in Sunday’s win.
Forcing bad throws from Blake Bortles all day cumulated in three interceptions from Johnson, K’Wuan Williams, and Ankello Witherspoon.
Bortles struggled most of the day, finishing 32-of-50 for 482 yards and two touchdowns. The Niners’ front seven also shut down one of the best rushers in the league, as Leonard Fournette carried the ball 18 times for only 48 yards.
While the 49ers remain one of the hottest teams in the NFL, they hope to close out their season with five straight wins against the Los Angeles Rams next weekend before one of the biggest offseasons in franchise history.