That’s more like it.
After losing the time-of-possession battle in their last three contests, the San Francisco 49ers returned to their ball-hogging ways against the Jacksonville Jaguars, keeping possession more than six minutes longer than Jacksonville.
San Francisco’s formula of score first + force an early turnover meant that a Jacksonville offense that had averaged 30 rushing attempts through its first eight games never could get its ground game rolling. The Jaguars had just 17 carries — and a season-low 59 rushing yards — Sunday.
They played 57 snaps of offense versus 62 for the 49ers. Most 49ers starters were on the sideline by game’s end and tackle Trent Williams, whose right ankle isn’t 100 percent, didn’t play the final two series.
Here’s how the individual snaps were divided:
Quarterback: Brock Purdy 49, Sam Darnold 13
Purdy was sacked twice, the second of which appeared to be a horse-collar tackle by linebacker Foyesade Oluokun that wasn’t called by the officials. It’s not a penalty if a quarterback is pulled down by the back of the jersey while in the pocket, but Purdy scrambled left on the play and was well outside of the spot where left tackle Williams initially lined up.
Purdy was excellent, 15-of-17, on dropbacks on which he was kept clean. He also was impressive in muddy pockets. He was 5-of-8 for 103 yards and a touchdown on blitz plays. Per Pro Football Focus, Purdy’s 91.7 overall grade was a career high.
Not a horsecollar? Defenders are permitted to take down QBs from the back of the shoulder pads if the QB is still in the pocket (Why this is allowed? I have no idea). However, on this play, which resulted in a sack, Brock Purdy appears to have vacated the pocket. pic.twitter.com/V7zqdJk5bI
— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) November 13, 2023
Running back: Christian McCaffrey 47, Kyle Juszczyk (fullback) 38, Elijah Mitchell 17, Jordan Mason 3, Deebo Samuel 2
McCaffrey may have been kept out of the end zone for the first time in nearly a year (Nov. 27 vs. the New Orleans Saints), but he had his most prolific outing, 142 total yards, since the 49ers’ Week 4 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
The left-side stretch runs also were back with Williams’ return to left tackle. McCaffrey had carries of 12 and 15 yards to that side as well as a screen pass that gained 17 yards. He remains the NFL’s rushing leader with 747 yards, which is 122 yards ahead of the next most prolific rusher, the Tennessee Titans’ Derrick Henry.
Receiver: Brandon Aiyuk 42, Samuel 33, Jauan Jennings 18, Willie Snead IV 14, Ronnie Bell 12
Samuel went in motion across the backfield on the first three offensive snaps, which forced the Jaguars to move in that direction and gave Purdy clean pockets throughout the opening drive. Samuel rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown when the 49ers visited Jacksonville two years ago. The Jaguars seemed to remember that, though Samuel still managed 29 yards on three runs, including a 23-yard score in the third quarter.
Snead was elevated from the practice squad Saturday, perhaps because Ray-Ray McCloud III was sick during the run-up to the game. Both Snead and Bell can return punts with Bell getting tapped for that duty in the fourth quarter. McCloud played six snaps on special teams, none on offense.
With Deebo Samuel back, 49ers’ offense is back to looking inevitable
Tight end: George Kittle 45, Charlie Woerner 24, Ross Dwelley 15
The 49ers’ best go-ball threat? It might be Kittle, who now has caught deep passes in two straight games — 34 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals and 66 yards against the Jaguars. Kittle beat linebackers on both plays and there was no safety lurking over the top in Jacksonville, which allowed Kittle to literally walk into the end zone.
The 66-yard score was Kittle’s longest since he had an 85-yarder against the Denver Broncos in Week 14 of the 2018 season.
Kyle Shanahan knew this was a TD before anyone else. He started walking in the opposite direction while George Kittle was on the 25-yard line. pic.twitter.com/0g8cC6HHz9
— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) November 13, 2023
Offensive line: Jon Feliciano 62, Jake Brendel 62, Spencer Burford 62, Colton McKivitz 62, Williams 46, Jaylon Moore 16
Right guard Burford had perhaps his best game of the season in giving up no quarterback pressures. He also was integral on an underrated play of the game, McCaffrey’s third-and-2 carry at the end of the second quarter on which he was initially stuffed at the line of scrimmage but managed to keep his balance and pick up a first down. Burford also kept his feet amid all the bodies in the pile and did his version of the Bush Push — the “CMC Shove?” — to help the tailback across the first-down marker. The 49ers eventually scored a field goal on the drive.
Burford’s performance is interesting because the 49ers had seemed prepared to give Feliciano playing time — presumably at right guard — once Aaron Banks (toe) is back at left guard. Feliciano also was strong Sunday in netting an 81.7 grade from PFF.
The offensive linemen who struggled the most? It may have been Williams, who was good on the hoof but whose sore right ankle may have given him trouble anchoring against the pass rush. He gave up four pressures and after the game said his ankle was around 70 to 75 percent healthy. He did not do any further damage to the ankle on Sunday, he said.
On Monday, Shanahan said that someone rolled onto McKivitz’s ankle during the game and that he was dealing with ankle and knee soreness as a result. He’ll be day-to-day this week with Matt Pryor or Moore on call if he can’t play against the Buccaneers.
Defensive line: Nick Bosa 37, Javon Hargrave 37, Chase Young 35, Arik Armstead 34, Javon Kinlaw 24, Kevin Givens 22, Clelin Ferrell 22, Randy Gregory 21
Young took his first snap as a 49er on second down on the second series when he lined up as a stand-up linebacker in the center of the defensive line with Bosa right beside him. They did the same on the 49ers’ fourth defensive series.
On most plays, Young was the right defensive end — his preferred spot in Washington — with Bosa on the left. But they switched spots on three straight snaps in the third quarter on which Bosa was on the right and Young on the left. Both finished with four quarterback pressures, per PFF:
- Bosa 4
- Hargrave 4
- Young 4
- Armstead 1
- Ferrell 1
Bosa, who played 100 percent of the defensive snaps against the Bengals — the first time in his career he’s done so — played 65 percent of the snaps Sunday. That’s his lowest share since Week 1, and Shanahan on Monday credited Young in part for keeping Bosa fresh.
“That’s been our goal here for a number of weeks and we’ve struggled to do that,” Shanahan said. “I think getting Chase in here made it a lot easier. I think the way the game went made it a lot easier. It’s hard to take Nick off the field because of how good he is, obviously, but it’s something we’re always trying to do.”
Steve Wilks is the big winner as 49ers’ pass rush, coverage finally converge
Linebacker: Fred Warner 54, Dre Greenlaw 52, Oren Burks 12, Curtis Robinson 3, Dee Winters 1
The linebacking corps regained its energy and quickness coming out of the bye, but the missed tackles that plagued the unit didn’t fully go away. Warner had two and Greenlaw had one as the defense continued to struggle with screen passes, albeit only on one particular drive in the second quarter.
Warner’s fourth-quarter interception was his third of the season. He had four total in five previous seasons. He’s tied with Las Vegas’ Robert Spillane and Cincinnati’s Logan Wilson for most interceptions by a linebacker this season.
Cornerback: Charvarius Ward 54, Deommodore Lenoir 53, Ambry Thomas 46, Shemar Jean-Charles 3, Isaiah Oliver 3
Lenoir was the nickelback on Sunday because the 49ers thought he was a better matchup than Oliver against speedster Christian Kirk. That may have been true, but Lenoir still had trouble. He gave up seven catches on seven targets for 107 yards, and Lawrence had a passer rating of 118.8 on those targets.
Thomas was flagged for pass interference in the second half. But he only allowed only two catches for 14 yards. Ward gave up no catches and had a nice pass breakup in the end zone. However, he was flagged twice for illegal contact (one was declined) and now leads the 49ers with 10 penalties this season:
- Illegal contact 4
- Pass interference 3
- Holding 3
Safety: Tashaun Gipson Sr. 54, Talanoa Hufanga 53, Ji’Ayir Brown 4, George Odum 3
Hufanga reprised his role as quasi linebacker, finishing with seven tackles, four of them around the line of scrimmage. The Jaguars had two plays of 20 yards or more on Sunday, a sign of a powerful San Francisco pass rush combined with strong safety play. The 49ers, by contrast, had nine such plays.
Special teams: Woerner 22, Odum 17, Dwelley 16, Brown 16, Mason 16, Robinson 16, Jean-Charles 16, Burks 15, Winters 13, Jake Moody 12, Thomas 11, Taybor Pepper 9, Mitch Wishnowsky 9, Oliver 8, Burford 6, McKivitz 6, Moore 6, Feliciano 6, Nick Zakelj 6, Pryor 6, McCloud 6, Hufanga 3, Bell 3, Samuel 2, Warner 1, Lenoir 1, Kinlaw 1, Givens 1, Gregory 1, Ferrell 1, Young 1
Two of Wishnowsky’s three punts were downed inside the 20-yard line, including one at the 1-yard line. His 16 punts inside the 20 rank 11th in the NFL. Of course, Wishnowsky’s only had 28 punts. The leader in the inside-the-20 category, New England’s Bryce Baringer who has 23, has attempted 50.
Samuel twice lined up adjacent to McCloud — who, again, may not have been at full strength — but did not have any return attempts.
(Top photo of Chase Young and Nick Bosa: Phelan M. Ebenhack / Getty Images)
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