JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville has extended and ended several losing streaks this season. This one remains: The Jaguars (2-7) have dropped 13 consecutive games against the NFC, a three-year-plus skid that includes losses to teams from every division in the other conference.
The Jags last beat an NFC team in the 2018 season opener, a 20-15 victory at the New York Giants.
They have a chance to end the slide Sunday against San Francisco (4-5), which is traveling cross-country for an early game after beating the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night.
“When it comes to streaks, they’ll definitely be broken,” Jaguars cornerback Shaquill Griffin. “That’s the main thing about this season. You talk about the (20-game) losing streak that we were on, we broke it. There’s a lot of things that can be broken in this league.
“We’re not looking at it like we’re going to beat the streak against an NFC team. We just need to win. That’s the main focus. It doesn’t matter who it is, who we’re playing, just win this game.”
The 49ers are 6 1/2-point favorites at Jacksonville, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The Niners are coming off their most impressive victory of the season, a 31-10 drubbing of the Rams on national television.
San Francisco ran the ball 44 times for 156 yards and a touchdown. Jimmy Garoppolo completed 15 of 18 passes for 182 yards and two scores. And the defense forced two turnovers, including an interception returned for a touchdown. It was one of the most dominant performances – and the most surprising – in a week that saw eight games decided by 17 or more points.
Now, the 49ers hope to carry it across the country with one less day of recovery/preparation.
“I think it starts with (the leaders),” Garoppolo said. “Whether it’s walk-through, practice, whatever it is, we’ve got come with the right mindset. And I think it trickles down to everyone else. You know, these short weeks happen quick. We’re right back to it. And you’ve just got to go in with the right mindset. I think that’s where it starts.”
Jacksonville played well the last two weeks, following a home stunner against Buffalo with a one-score loss at Indianapolis, and is building confidence with every week.
Rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s progress has been somewhat hampered by dropped passes and third-down woes. But the Jaguars have become more competitive mostly because of a defense that’s consistently stopping the run and getting pressure on quarterbacks.
“When this starts to turn, we all got to be prepared and ready for it,” Griffin said. “We’re going in the right direction for sure.”
A win against the NFC would be a huge step. The Jaguars last finished at least .500 against the other conference in 2008, losing 43 of 50 since.
DEEBO THE BACK
The 49ers unveiled a new way to get the ball into receiver Deebo Samuel’s hands last week. He lined up in the backfield a season-high six times and ran five times for 36 yards and a TD. He also did his usual work as a receiver with five catches for 97 yards and a TD, and remains second in the NFL in yards receiving. But the ability to line up as a running back adds another wrinkle to the offense.
“When you have willing guys who have the ability to do it, but they’re also physical enough to do it, it just helps you come up with a lot of things to put players in positions to make it easier for them,” Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said.
Jaguars coach Urban Meyer faces former players almost every week in the NFL. This one will be a little different. Meyer started recruiting Niners pass rusher Nick Bosa when he was a sophomore at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Bosa, like his older brother Joey, ended up signing with Meyer at Ohio State.
“I stood there watching him and said, ‘This one’s over. Done,’” Meyer recalled. “He was that good his sophomore year.”
After coming into last week ranked 30th in the league at 33.3% at converting third downs, the Niners did a good job extending drives against the Rams. They converted 8 of 14 tries with Garoppolo doing much of the work. He completed 6 of 8 passes for 83 yards and a TD and also converted a third-and-1 sneak for seven of the team’s eight conversions.
“Guys made some plays,” Shanahan said. “We had a couple of good looks, and when we didn’t have good looks we were still able to convert it.”