JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Here is how the 49ers (6-3) graded in Sunday’s 34-3 win over the host Jaguars (6-3):
PASS OFFENSE: A-
Brock Purdy’s career-best passer rating of 148.9 was bolstered in large part by three touchdown passes and an ability to avoid turnovers for the first time in four games. Don’t overlook some of the gutsier, strong-arm throws he made for third-down conversions to Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings on the far sideline. As for the first touchdown pass, Kyle Shanahan called it “one of his worst decisions” Purdy has made as a 49er, to which the second-year QB said: “I’m not necessarily proud of that play, honestly. Yes, it was a touchdown and everything; great. B.A. made a great play. But I’ve got to be smart with the ball, and if anything, I should have ran the ball.” Instead, Purdy put just enough air and touch on an across-the-field throw that it cleared George Kittle and two defenders before Aiyuk snagged it. Purdy’s second touchdown pass showed his fabulous combination of pocket-pressure resolve and on-field smarts: He waited just long enough for Kittle to break past a linebacker in man coverage for a 66-yard touchdown, two plays into the second half for a 20-3 lead; it evoked momentum-like memories of Christian McCaffrey’s 65-yard touchdown run on the second snap after halftime to break open their Week 1 win in Pittsburgh.
RUN OFFENSE: B
No, Christian McCaffrey did not score in an 18th straight game, thus keeping him tied with Lenny Moore for the NFL record. But the 49ers’ offense did not look as McCaffrey-dependent and that’s a good thing. With Deebo Samuel back from a shoulder injury, he went in motion on the first snap as McCaffrey got the carry for a 6-yard gain. McCaffrey finished with 95 yards on 16 carries. Samuel ‘s 23-yard touchdown came on an end-around run in which he followed the final blocks from Trent Williams and Jake Brendel. “It’s kind of weird, because (No.) 31 (cornerback Darious Williams) turned and ran. I had never seen that,” Williams said. “I knew (Samuel) was close because I could tell the reaction of the guy in front of me.” Veteran Jon Feliciano acquitted himself well as he started at left guard in place of Aaron Banks (toe). Elijah Mitchell (eight carries, 23 yards) helped get the 49ers in position to brazenly try getting McCaffrey into the end zone for the record breaker at the end.
PASS DEFENSE: A
This was the get-well game that saw a dominant pass rush complemented by timely coverage tricks. Nick Bosa, Javon Hargrave, Clelin Ferrell, Arik Amstead and Chase Young combined for five sacks, and while Hargrave’s 1 1/2 came on third down on the opening two series, the most poetic was the sack Bosa and Young shared in the second quarter to force a fumble that Bosa recovered. Afterward, a lot of credit was spread to the defense’s coverage men for their “sticky” play and disguises that confused Trevor Lawrence, who got intercepted by Talanoa Hufanga and Fred Warner. That said, Lawrence often succeeded in targeting Deommodore Lenoir, who shifted inside on passing situations to replaced the benched Isaiah Oliver. Ambry Thomas gained praise afterward, and a key to that was the fumble he forced at the 6-yard line on a catch he allowed. Charvarius Ward, three snaps after drawing an illegal-contact penalty, made perfectly timed contact with a Lawrence pass to break up a potential 19-yard touchdown catch.
RUN DEFENSE: A
This marked the 36th straight game an opponent has failed to produce a 100-yard rusher. The Jaguars’ Travis Etienne had just 35 yards on nine carries as they tried playing catch up through the air. Dre Greenlaw had a team-high eight tackles in his bounce-back game, while Warner, Lenoir and Hufanga each had seven tackles. Greenlaw, Hargrave, Bosa and Ferrell each made a tackle for loss.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
Nick Moody barely snuck in a 35-yard field goal as the first half expired, after earlier connecting on a 39-yarder, so there’s still a touch of hold-your-breath with the rookie kicker. Punter Mitch Wishnowsky is one of the more unheralded success stories this season, and while he had a net average of 47 yards on three punts this game, one pinned the Jaguars at their 1-yard line. Ray-Ray McCloud averaged 7.3 yards on three punt returns; his season average of 9.7-yards per return ranks ninth in the NFL.
Kyle Shanahan and his staff stormed out of the bye week with fantastic work to keep the Jaguars off-balance both offensively and defensively. “Winning on the road against a team that’s been rolling … it’s definitely what we needed,” Williams said. Too much attention was put on defensive coordinator Steve Wilks’ move from the booth to the sideline but that certainly didn’t hurt matters as he calmly went about his work day. Kittle credited Shanahan with dialling up the perfect play for his 66-yard score in anticipation of the Jaguars’ second-and-1 man coverage. Now that a three-game losing streak is out of the way, the 49ers must not take lightly a Buccaneers team that won 20-6 over the Titans; looming beyond that are the Seattle-Philadelphia-Seattle swing that could dictate the NFC playoff bracket.