The Jacksonville Jaguars will be going to the playoffs soon. They’ve got a play-making defense, an outstanding rookie running back, some good receivers and a young quarterback who’s been playing his best football in December.
Yet it’s the San Francisco 49ers – who lost their first nine games of 2017 – who were the better team Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.
The 49ers built a big lead and then hung on, winning 44-33, to secure their fourth straight victory and fifth in six games. San Francisco, again guided by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo – who seems to have single-handedly turned the franchise around over his four starts with his new team – is 5-10 going into the season finale next weekend against the Los Angeles Rams. The AFC South-champion Jags fall to 10-5.
On Sunday, the 49ers jumped on top early. They went up 7-0 on Garoppolo’s 1-yard run, added a 27-yard Robbie Gould field goal to take a 10-0 lead and then scored another TD on Dontae Johnson’s 50-yard interception return. The Jaguars responded with their first two points coming on a return of a two-point conversion try by the 49ers, a Leonard Fournette 1-yard run and Jaelen Strong’s 5-yard pass from Blake Bortles to forge a 16-16 tie at the half.
After Josh Lambo gave the Jags a 3-point lead with a field goal, the 49ers got on a roll, scoring three straight touchdowns on George Kittle and Trent Taylor catches and a Carlos Hyde run to seemingly put the game out of reach, with a 37-19 lead.
Jacksonville showed late life, however, scoring one TD on a 1-yard run by T.J. Yeldon, getting the onside kick and scoring again on a Bortles pass to James O’Shaugnessy, before the 49ers put the lid on it with Matt Breida’s 30-yard scoring run.
Garoppolo completed 21-of-30 throws for 242 yards, two TDs and an interception, completing passes to nine different receivers. Late in the game, 49ers fans were chanting his name.
Hyde (54 yards) and Breida (74 yards) led the San Francisco rushing attack.
On defense, Solomon Thomas had six tackles, including one for a loss and a sack for the 49ers and Reuben Foster had five tackles, including one for loss. Brock Coyle led the team with eight tackles. Interceptions by K’Wuan Williams and Ahkello Witherspoon both set up TDs by the 49ers offense in the second half.
The 49ers will try to end the season with a five-game winning streak next Sunday when they travel to Los Angeles. Kickoff against the Rams is set for 1:25 p.m.