Monday, October 28, 2013

Smash The Flea

Sunday saw the 49ers travel clear across the Atlantic Ocean to play a football game in London against the Jacksonville Jaguars. No matter the venue, it was clear that the 49ers were superior to the winless Jaguars in all respects, and only a series of catastrophic breakdowns would cause the 49ers to lose the game. This didn't happen. The 49ers went out and smashed the proverbial flea with a sledgehammer, and the end result was a 42-10 49ers rampage.

With the Gnats and Eaglefeathers playing a virtually unwatchable affair on local TV, I was relegated to streaming the game on my phone with KNBR's own Ted Robinson and Eric Davis. The broadcast is less fluffy than the TV call (which featured the wonderful Chris Meyers/Shecky Shenandoah team), and they even played some charming British-style bumpers to lead in and out of commercial breaks. I've mentioned that my luck when streaming games has been somewhat spotty, but that obviously wasn't the case today.

There really wasn't any drama in this game. The 49ers took the opening kickoff and ripped right down the field. Colin Kaepernick hit Bruce Miller (who surprisingly is the 49ers 3rd leading receiver to this point this season) for 43 yards, Frank Gore converted a 4th and 1 and 2 plays later ran through a canyonlike hole that was opened for him by Mike Iupati and Jonathan Goodwin for a 19-yard Touchdown. The next 3 49ers possessions were similarly successful. In succession, Kaepernick ran a read option down the left sideline for a 12-yard score, in a play almost identical to the one he scored on last week in Tennessee, and allowed him to perform his first International "Kaepernicking." Next, Kaepernick moved the 49ers down to the Jacksonville 2 and with the Jaguars selling out on a run, Kap threw over them to Vernon Davis for the score. Finally, Kaepernick took another one in himself on a 9-yard run where Miller and Frank Gore pancaked a few defenders to clear a path. By this point, it was 28-0 and essentially a noncompetitive game.

The Jaguars only particular hope was that they could somehow sustain drives behind Maurice Jones-Drew running and Chad Henne hopefully not making any mistakes. But the 49ers defense barely gave them a chance. Drives for the Jaguars appeared over before they started on multiple occasions, and in one instance, I left the room after the 49ers kicked off and when I came back, the 49ers had the ball again. The Jaguars didn't cross midfield on offense until late in the 2nd Quarter in a drive that culminated in a cosmetic Field Goal.

The Jaguars had a pair of long drives in the 2nd half, both of which ended with the Jaguars failing to convert 4th down opportunities. Their only touchdown happened mostly by accident; a Frank Gore fumble, a play on which he fell before receiving a handoff, gave the Jags a short field and Henne was able to find Mike Brown for the score. Gore responded on the ensuing possession by scoring his 2nd TD of the game and on the following Jacksonville possession, Patrick Willis forced Marcedes Lewis to fumble, and Dan Skuta lived the Linebacker's dream by scooping up the ball and running 47 yards for the game's final Touchdown.

The London games are a rather bizarre setting. I understand why it's done, but it feels somewhat forced. London is a Soccer town and England is a Soccer nation and their interest in American Football is probably limited at best, but then again, the game drew over 85,000 fans and most of them stayed through the end of the game. That said, the crowd appeared to be largely in support of the Jaguars, which baffles me because there appeared to be more Jacksonville fans at Wembley Stadium on Sunday than there are in Jacksonville, Florida (and yet they can't spell the team's name correctly). Who knows. Whatever it is, the NFL didn't exactly send a marquee matchup across the pond, and sure, you don't know how a team will perform when these games are scheduled, but even if the Jaguars weren't 0-7 going into the game, they surely couldn't have been much better than 1-6 or 2-5. The 49ers, at 5-2, were about where you'd expect them to be. The 49ers win was surprising to no one. That they really wiped the Jaguars out at 42-10 is just a testament to a team that's really clicked the last couple of weeks and now goes into their bye on a 5-game winning streak. So, after a week in London (the team traveled directly there following last Sunday's game in Tennessee), the 49ers now get a week off to go home and get over the jet lag before returning to the field on November 10th against the Carolina Panthers.

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