- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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Weather: According to The Weather Channel’s web site, the forecast for Sunday is a high of 59 degrees with a 60 percent chance of rain. The bigger problem is the 23-mph winds, because that certainly impacts the passing game. The Jaguars are last in the NFL in rushing (63.0 yards per game) while the 49ers are third (143.3 yards per game). The Jaguars are also last in the NFL in rush defense (153.3 yards per game). If this turns into a ground-and-pound game because of the wind, that’s a huge advantage for the 49ers.
Tight ends: It seems like I write about this every week with the Jaguars, but it’s certainly an issue again because they’re facing Vernon Davis. Tight ends have caught 42 passes for 401 yards and five touchdowns against the Jaguars this season. Davis is by far the best they’ll have played. What makes him so tough is he’s a big-play machine. Eight of his 26 catches have been for 20 or more yards, and he’s averaging 17.9 yards per reception. He also has six touchdown catches. It’s going to be a tough day for linebacker Geno Hayes and safeties Johnathan Cyprien and Josh Evans.
Emotion meter: Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said the team came out flat last week, and for the first time this season showed a lack of effort. How will the players respond? There’s obviously a sentiment of wanting to play hard for Bradley because of the death of his father, but the players also would like to redeem themselves for the poor performance against San Diego. The Jaguars had shown progress in the two previous games, and last week’s showing wasted that.
More MoJo? Maurice Jones-Drew touched the ball just 11 times last Sunday despite offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch saying he wants to get Jones-Drew 20-plus touches each game. Part of the problem was the way the game unfolded. San Diego’s long drives, helped by converting on their first six third-down attempts, chewed up clock and the Jaguars had the ball just twice in the first half. Expect a bigger workload for Jones-Drew, especially if the weather limits the passing game.
Henne time: The Jaguars have opted to go with Chad Henne over Blaine Gabbert (for this week, at least). Henne has played solidly the past two weeks, throwing for more than 300 yards against Denver and San Diego. However, Henne has his own issues with consistency, and this is a game where it might be tough to get anything done through the air.
9hEric D. Williams