Sports

Jaguars clinch AFC South, then blown out by 49ers

Jaguars clinch AFC South, then blown out by 49ers

It was a moment of pure joy that goes against all fan etiquette when your team is in the red zone, but in this case nobody could do anything but smile and laugh considering the misery of recent 49ers seasons. Garoppolo orchestrated scoring drives on the first two possessions of the game.

After a Jaguars three-and-out, San Francisco moved 54 yards on nine plays before settling for Robbie Gould's 27-yard field goal. Growing pains for a team that not used to winning?

After forcing a Jacksonville punt on its first drive the 49ers constructed another impressive 9-play, 59-yard drive on their next possession, jumping in the driver's seat early with a 10-0 lead.

Before starting nose tackle Earl Mitchell played a down of defense, he trotted onto the field with the 49ers' offense.

Make that 4-0 for Jimmy Garoppolo & Co. Jacksonville then recovered an onside kick, and converted that possession into a three-play touchdown drive, culminating in Bortles' 11-yard scoring pass to James O'Shaughnessy with 1:50 remaining.

The 49ers stretched their win streak to four games - their longest sustained success since the 2013 season - with a 44-33 victory over the AFC South champions in their home finale at Levi's Stadium. He threw for 187 in the first half alone. His 53-game interception drought ended in superb fashion, when he picked off a tipped pass and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown and 16-0 lead.

More news: Gurley stakes MVP claim as Rams win division title

Garoppolo and the Niners' offense was so efficient in the early going that Jaguars defenders were spotted on the sideline arguing and shoving each other. The 49ers re-took the lead on tight end George Kittle's eight-yard touchdown catch.

The trickle-down effect of that offensive output was another mostly strong showing by the defense. But Garoppolo took advantage of Kyle Shanahan's masterful game plan to complete 21 of 30 pass attempts for 242 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 102.4.

And a run defense that a year ago was the worst in the National Football League has continued its improvement as it no longer has to spend long periods of time on the field. Jacksonville entered with the NFL's best rushing attack but finished with only 92 yards Sunday, the fifth straight 49ers opponent held under the 100-yard mark. That's what a good quarterback can do in this quarterback-driven league.

That glory would be short-lived as Garoppolo threw an interception in the back of the Jaguars endzone after being hit on the throw by Jacksonville defensive end Yannick Nqakoue.

A 49ers three-and-out on the next series would reinforce that notion, too.


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