Photo by Bob Martin
By Pearl Allison Lo
LONDON– San Francisco 49ers’ (6-2) quarterback Colin Kaepernick had a season-high two rushing touchdowns in a 42-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8), who were playing in their inaugural International Series game at Wembley Stadium Sunday evening.
The final count of 83,559 fans marked the 4th best attendance of the eight NFL games played here so far, outranked by the two New England Patriots games and the other San Francisco game. It was the third lopsided scoring margin at Wembley Stadium, with the two other games New England games. It was a mainly red jersey crowd, but the fans were equally supportive of their “home” team until 2016. Dan Skuta thought, “It seemed pretty split to me,” and “they cheered for things that I don’t think Americans usually cheer for. They were fired up for extra points and stuff like that, which is pretty cool.”
Both teams had a number of drops, including miscues returning the football for the first time. The 49ers’ Kyle Williams fumbled off the kickoff reception but retained possession. Josh Scobee dropped the ball on his return, but was able to recover the ball before the players reached him.
San Francisco scored during their first four drives and Kaepernick scrambled during them as well, overall running seven times for 54 yards. Coach Jim Harbaugh commented, “He used his legs on third down to pick up valuable first downs.”
During the 49ers’ opening drive, Kaepernick found Bruce Miller wide open on the far right for 43 yards. Teammate Frank Gore found a hole up the middle later, to give San Francisco the opening touchdown with 19 yards and 11:48 left in the first quarter.
Kaepernick looked like he was going to run a third time before he connected with Anquan Boldin for 21 yards. It was Kaepernick’s fourth rush that brought him into the end zone the first time as he went to the far left, knocking over the orange cone in the process. It was Kaepernick’s longest rush of the game at the time, 12 yards with 2:36 left in the quarter.
The 21-0 first score of the second quarter, almost mirrored the time of the first score in the first quarter, with 11:52 left. Kaepernick had his longest rush of 17 yards and eventually found Vernon Davis, just before Davis went out of bounds at the back of the end zone.
The first play of the 49ers’ fourth drive was a 32-yard pass to Davis. Jacksonville cornerback Alan Ball got a hand on the ball in the end zone to prevent the third pass of the drive to Davis. However, this was followed by Kaepernick’s second rushing touchdown as he traveled nine yards to make the score 28-0. This was the first drive Kaepernick did not run in any of the plays before the score.
The Jaguars’ Jordan Todman returned the ball 40 yards after muffing a catch, but the drive ended quickly, with Williams muffing a catch on the other end.
San Francisco finally went scoreless on their fifth drive. It was also a drive in which Kaepernick’s scramble was taken back by a holding penalty.
Jacksonville followed their defensive performance with their first journey into enemy territory and score. Cecil Shorts, who was the main target during the drive, made a nice break from one of the tackles. Josh Scobee kicked a 38-yard field goal to make the score 28-3 at halftime.
The Jaguars received the ball again to start off the third quarter, but had several battles, including two penalties. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 30 yards. On fourth down and less than a yard, they converted. Shorts dropped the ball in the end zone, leading to fourth down again. This time,the pass was incomplete to Mike Brown.
Just under three minutes later though, Jacksonville got the ball back as Frank Gore fumbled on his own 34 yard line and Russell Allen recovered the football. The Jaguars were able to turn the fumble into their first touchdown eventually, when Chad Henne passed to Mike Brown for 29 yards.
The 49ers wasted no time getting the score back afterwards. Kendall Hunter had a 41-yard rush and Gore made up for his fumble with a two-yard score with less than a minute left in the quarter.
In the fourth, Jacksonville went for their third fourth down conversion and were successful. Marcedes Lewis fumbled, however, and Dan Skuta turned the game’s first straight fumble into a score, with a run of 43 yards.
Regarding keeping morale high, Jones-Drew replied, “We’re competitors. We’re never going to let anyone break our will. Some guys are saying, ‘Why are you still playing?’ I say, ‘Why are you talking to me about that? We’re trying to get our job done, play football, and play it at a high level.’ We’re going to continue to work and do what we have to do…we can make a change and we will.”
Notes: The most special of the four honororary captains of the game was Brandon Bell from Scotland, who has been a fan since receiving brain tumor treatment in Jacksonville. His “Make-A-Wish” was to see the play in Wembley Stadium. It was Henne’s third straight start at quarterback in place of Blaine Gabbert. The Jaguars’ Will Rackley received a blow to the head during the game and did not return. San Francisco next gets a bye week and then plays the Carolina Panthers November 10th. Jacksonville also gets a bye next week and will aim to get their first win again against the Tennessee Titants. The Jaguars’ next game at Wembley will be against the Dallas Cowboys and will also feature four other teams, as 2014-2015 will mark the first season three NFL games will be played in London, a step in a bigger direction.