Kyle Shanahan broke some news this week about quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers head coach said that Garoppolo will have a bad game and he will lose. Every quarterback does, Shanahan reasoned. And that loss might even come this Sunday at Levi’s against what many believe is the league’s best defense in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars lead the league in sacks, passing defense and points allowed.
So what does Garoppolo need to do to avoid suffering his first loss as a starter in five tries?
MOVE: Garoppolo has proven that he’s nimble and he will need to be against the Jacksonville pass rush. Unless the 49ers’ offensive line has their best game of the season, Garoppolo will be under duress, and subsequently, he will need to be like Russell Wilson with his ability to stay alive in the pocket and make plays down the field.
BE PATIENT: Last week, Garoppolo beat a Titans defense that plays lots of fronts and an abundance of coverages. At least three times, the Titans confused themselves and dropped coverage at crucial times which allowed the 49ers to scorch them, including tight end George Kittle’s 24-yard reception on the final drive. The Jags are the opposite. They play the 49ers’ defensive scheme, which means they are basic and hardly ever make a mistake or yield a big play. It means the 49ers will need to be methodical in their offensive approach.
GET PLAYS IN THE RUNNING GAME: Surprisingly, what Jacksonville doesn’t do well statistically is defend the run. They often don’t have to because seven of their 10 wins have come by 20 points or more. Teams often abandon the run when playing the Jags. However, if their is a weakness in the defensive style they play, it’s giving up the big run play. The 49ers will need a few of those to stay in the game, and that might be one reason to see more carries by Matt Breida. He’s faster than starter Carlos Hyde and has greater big-play potential.
SCORE IN THE RED ZONE: Here’s where the 49ers have been dismal even under Garoppolo. Once they entered scoring territory, the 49ers should only see kicker Robbie Gould when he lines up for an extra point.