The Jacksonville Jaguars will be taking on the San Francisco 49ers, which have a lot of known threats the team has to be weary of. We all know about quarterback Colin Kaepernick, running back Frank Gore, and tight end Vernon Davis.
Conversly on the defensive side of the ball we're well aware of guys like Patrick Willis and Justin Smith.
The big question is who are some of the other players on the 49ers roster, the unsung heroes if you will, that fans should keep an eye on during the game.
Thankfully Niners Nation is here to narq on their own team.
We're gonna stick with Vance McDonald. The 49ers have hammered opponents with Frank Gore and Colin Kaepernick. The passing game has struggled outside of Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis, but at some point, I think most 49ers fans are hoping to see Vance McDonald get a little more involved.
This past week he was targeted twice and caught one pass for 20 yards. When McDonald does catch passes, he usually runs over a defender with ease. At 6'4, 267 pounds, this is not surprising. And yet, he continues to see few opportunities in the passing game. At some point I'd like to hope he breaks through. The 49ers will get Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree back over the next month or so. McDonald is a part of the 49ers future, but with the return of the two receivers, his best chance at making a bigger impact in the 2013 passing game may be at hand.
The 49ers defense has been dealing with a variety of injuries and off the field issues that have led to rookies getting extensive more and more playing time. Last week, fifth round pick Quinton Dial made his debut a day after coming off the NFI list. Dial started practicing Tuesday, and due to concerns about Glenn Dorsey's hamstring, Dial was activated to the 53-man roster by the weekend.
Dial is a big, big man (6'5, 320), and will rotate between nose tackle and defensive end. The 49ers are using Dial, Tony Jerod-Eddie and Demarcus Dobbs a bit more lately to help spell defensive ends Ray McDonald and Justin Smith. They may not show up in the stat book too frequently, but they will be keys to containing the Jaguars run game.
Going in the same vein as Niners Nation, there's a few under the radar Jaguars players that they should keep their eye on.
While guys like Justin Blackmon, Cecil Shorts, and even Ace Sanders are known... second-year receiver Mike Brown finally was able to flash on the field last week against the Chargers. Brown was making waves in training camp and the preseason, looking significantly better than he did as a rookie making the move from college quarterback to NFL wide receiver. With all the injuries at the position, he was forced into action the week he returned from a broken back and ended the day with five receptions for 120 yards, including an impressive 48-yard catch and run.
The Jaguars have run through wide receivers during the season, as they've had multiple wide receivers out with injury, even as soon as Justin Blackmon came back from his suspension. Brown may not be a staple in the Jaguars offense, but he showed a little bit of what he can do on Sunday and could be a factor in the offense with all the injuries.
He's know to us, because we see him every week now, but rookie safety Josh Evans will be someone for the 49ers to watch out for. Second-round rookie Jonathan Cyprien gets all the attention, but so far on the season Evans has been the best of the two, partially because he's very familiar with the defensive system the Jaguars are running.
In Evans final season at Florida, their defensive coordinator Dan Quinn ran a similar style Cover-3 defense, as he'd worked under Gus Bradley previously. Evans has transitioned into the defense seamlessly, and while most non-Jaguars fans know about Cyprien, they'll soon learn about Evans.