JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Who are the real 49ers?
Are they the team that rolled over their first five opponents of the 2023 NFL season and rose to the top of everyone’s power rankings?
Or are they the team that went reeling into the bye week with a lot of questions?
The 49ers certain looked like the better form on Sunday while handing the Jacksonville Jaguars a 34-3 defeat at EverBank Stadium. The victory broke the 49ers’ three-game skid and snapped the Jaguars’ five-game win streak.
“We had three games that just wasn’t us,” 49ers linebacker Fred Warner said. “We had to get back to playing 49er football, especially on the defensive side.
“We had to take pride in what we were putting on tape, and today I feel like we did that.”
And this will most certainly be duly noted in the grades from their impressive Week 10 victory:
The 49ers attempted 30 runs and averaged 4.8 yards per carry — even with backup quarterback Sam Darnold taking a knee three times to end the game.
Christian McCaffrey rushed for 95 yards on 16 carries, and Deebo Samuel added 29 yards and a touchdown on three rushing attempts.
The return of left tackle Trent Williams certainly helped, and Jon Feliciano stepped in and played well in place of injured left guard Aaron Banks.
The only thing that did not go as planned: McCaffrey was held out of the end zone, bringing his streak of a touchdown in 17 consecutive games to an end.
Quarterback Brock Purdy found a solution to the fourth-quarter turnovers that plagued him during the 49ers’ three-game losing streak. He played so well through three quarters that he attempted only one pass in the fourth quarter. And that was a 22-yard touchdown pass to fullback Kyle Juszczyk that sent the signal-caller to the sideline for the remainder of the rout.
Purdy completed 19 of 26 pass attempts for 296 yards with three touchdown passes, no interceptions and a passer rating of 148.9. He now leads the NFL with a passer rating of 109.9 for the season.
Tight end George Kittle had three catches for 116 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown in the first minute of the second half. Brandon Aiyuk had a 13-yard touchdown to cap the first drive of the game.
The 49ers tightened up their run defense, allowing 3.5 yards per rushing attempt on the day.
Travis Etienne, the Jaguars’ leading rusher, had just 35 yards on nine rushing attempts. He is usually a high-volume rusher, but the Jaguars had a difficult time getting their ground game going and extending drives.
Linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who has been banged-up in recent weeks, had a strong showing with a team-high eight tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage. Nick Bosa, Clelin Ferrell and Javon Hargrave each had a tackle of loss, as well.
The 49ers generated four turnovers. So they actually had more takeaways than points allowed.
Bosa also had a forced fumble and a fumble recover. Ambry Thomas also forced a fumble and came up with the recovery after Christian Kirk caught a short completion.
Talanoa Hufanga and Fred Warner intercepted Trevor Lawrence, who struggled to get anything going against the 49ers’ defense.
Bosa and Hargrave had 1.5 sacks apiece to lead a pass rush that generated five sacks. Chase Young, making his 49ers debut, had a half-sack.
Rookie kicker Jake Moody made field goals of 39 and 35 yards, the latter of which he snuck just inside the right upright on the final play of the first half. He also was good on his six kickoffs, as the Jaguars’ average starting point was the 24-yard line.
Punter Mitch Wishnowsky was not called upon too much, but he came through with another big day, averaging 42.0 net yards on three punts, including a 56-yarder he dropped at the 1-yard line.
The 49ers’ game plans on both sides of the ball gave a lot of individuals opportunities to make plays on Sunday. And many of those players took full advantage of their opportunities.
A tip of the cap goes to defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, who dialed it up from the sideline. The 49ers tied their pass rush to their coverages on the back end very well.
Offensively, the 49ers made it look easy at times with Purdy hitting open receivers, while things opened up in the running game for both McCaffrey and Samuel.
The only thing we can downgrade the coaching for is coach Kyle Shanahan being one of the individuals on the field during Thomas’ fumble return that resulted in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to nullify his touchdown return.
This performance was along the lines of what the 49ers produced in the first five games of the season.
After a three-game losing streak, the 49ers got back to their old way of doing business coming out of the bye week.
“It was playing complementary football,” Shanahan said. “It took us a while a little bit back and forth, but I thought once we were playing well on both sides, that’s when the score became what it did.”
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