Welcome to Big Cat Country’s weekly roundtable, where our staff previews each Jacksonville Jaguars game and makes picks for every NFL game. The Jaguars are 3-point underdogs against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 10, according to our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
The 49ers have a ton of talent. Which player would you cherrypick to place on the Jaguars’ roster?
Dillon Appleman: When negotiations between the 49ers and Nick Bosa started to drag a bit this offseason, Jags Twitter did not hesitate to photoshop a teal jersey onto him with hopes of a potential trade. While that hope was short-lived, the dream lives on with this cherrypick scenario. Give me Bosa by a mile.
Caitlin Connor: If I had to pick a 49er to add to the Jaguars roster, I would pick George Kittle. I think Engram and Kittle would make a great tight end duo and create a lot of opportunities on the field.
Jefferson Gibson: This San Francisco team is loaded with talent on both offense and defense. If I had the ability to cherrypick one player from the 49ers roster, I would select defensive lineman Nick Bosa. Looking at this 49ers roster, there are a lot of great players, but the Jaguars have great players at those positions too. However, with Nick Bosa lining up opposite Josh Allen and telling them to get to the quarterback, it would be a nightmare for offensive lines and could really make this defense the best in the league.
Joseph Henry: I’m really feeling the urge to try and not give the most obvious answer, but I can’t make myself do it. Nick Bosa is a pure game-wrecker. We haven’t seen it much this season, but his impressive track record shows he won’t stay down for long. Through 57 career starts, he has 10 games with multiple sacks and 31 games with at least one. If that isn’t dominance and consistency, then I don’t know what is.
Travis Holmes: I mean, for the 2023 Jaguars is there any other answer other than Nick Bosa? For a team who at least kicked the tires on potential draft-day trades for Josh Uche and Danielle Hunter, this would be the primary position of need for Jax while being a massive position of strength for San Fran. Bosa is top three in the NFL in double-team rate, something the Jaguars and Josh Allen could use to become an elite defense.
Gus Logue: I said my pick would be Bosa in our Reacts survey posing this same question, to which 82% of voters also chose Bosa. That said, he signed a mammoth five-year, $170 million extension last offseason, which shattered T.J. Watt’s previous record-high contract (four years for $112 million) to make Bosa the highest paid non-quarterback in the league. A cost-friendler option is wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who’s due $4 million in 2023 and $14 million in 2024 on his fifth-year option. I’ve written ad nauseam (including this week’s film room mailbag) about the Jaguars’ need for another receiver who can win over the middle of the field, and though Deebo Samuel also fits that description, Aiyuk is two years younger and a better vertical playmaker.
Adam Snowden: Most of the time I get these questions, I preface that there’s no objectively correct answer. In this case, there is. Nick Bosa is a top 5 player in this league in the prime of his career at the biggest position of need for the Jaguars. While Christian McCaffrey is extremely talented, the gap between him and Travis Etienne is far smaller than the gap between Bosa and any defensive lineman on the Jags he would replace (it would not be Josh Allen). And while Trent Williams is similarly dominant at his position, Jacksonville’s offensive line has been somewhat passable, and it should hopefully be even better with the acquisition of Ezra Cleveland. I truly believe the addition of Bosa would instantly take this team from “in the mix” to a Super Bowl favorite.
Henry Zimmer: Most everyone’s eyes probably point toward Deebo Samuel or Christian McCaffrey, but what about Brandon Aiyuk? Aiyuk is totally the odd guy out on the 49ers' offense, but is super effective in every aspect. He has 620 yards already and could totally reproduce that on the Jags. He also only has one year left on his deal so maybe this connection is possible down the line...
What will be the key matchup in this game?
Dillon: Travis Etienne trying to find ways around Fred Warner is not only going to be fun to watch, but his matchup against him will play a huge role in the offense’s success. Warner triggers downhill so fast and is about as instinctive as they come at the position. Etienne will have to earn everything he gets on Sunday.
Caitlin: I think the Jaguars offensive line against the 49ers pass rush will be a good matchup to watch. The offensive line has been doing a great job of protecting Trevor, so it will be interesting to see how they hold up against Bosa.
Jefferson: This game will come down to the trenches of the offensive line. The Jaguars and 49ers match up pretty evenly with skill position players, maybe with a slight edge to the 49ers. However, the two lines going at each other all game will be the thing to watch. With Jacksonville adding a new offensive lineman at the trade deadline, will that be enough to stop Chase Young and Nick Bosa? And on the other side, will Josh Allen and Travon Walker put enough pressure on Brock Purdy to force turnovers and get in the backfield to contain Christian McCaffrey? This game will be won or lost in the trenches, and the Jaguars better be ready for a long, tough, but winnable matchup.
Joseph: Sunday could boil down to how well the Jaguars’ defense — led by linebacker Foyesade Oluokun — can contain electric 49ers running back Christian McCaffery. Sure, they won’t always be one-on-one, but Foye will need to ensure the defense is playing disciplined to limit CMC’s impact on the game. Not to mention, it would be a sweet accomplishment for Jacksonville to be the team that snaps McCaffery’s 17-game touchdown scoring streak.
Travis: With 49ers left guard Aaron Banks out for a few weeks with a turf toe, backup Jon Feliciano will have all eyes on him. His matchup with the rotation of Roy Robinson-Harris, Foley Fatukasi, DaVon Hamilton, Adam Gotsis, and Dawuane Smoot could make or break the game for the Jaguars. If Jacksonville can get inside pressure in both the run and passing game, it could be a long day for Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey.
Gus: Travis Etienne against San Francisco’s interior run defense. Etienne leads the league in carries per game and has the third most inside zone carries, per Sports Info Solutions. 42 of his 151 attempts (28%) have been inside zone. Etienne ranks top-five in most volume stats on such attempts, but isn’t as good efficiency-wise: he’s 30th in EPA per play and 35th in success rate among 48 qualifying running backs. However, against inside zone this season, the Niners rank bottom-12 in EPA per play and success rate allowed, plus bottom-four in yards per carry and first down rate allowed. If Etienne can get going between the tackles, it’ll go a long way towards Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk’s success down the field.
Adam: Though I have pounded the table these past few weeks insisting the Jaguars’ offensive line is the biggest key matchup in any game, this week is a different story. While the 49ers' pass rush is great (and only getting better with the recent addition of Chase Young), and the Jaguars' offensive line has indeed been a liability, Jacksonville’s offense has compensated remarkably well, relying on quick throws that move the chains rather than deep shots. Of course, the Jaguars line still has much to be desired. However, my answer hinges upon the fact that, like the Chiefs, only one thing has managed to temper the 49ers’ loaded offense: a consistent pass rush. Brock Purdy with time is VASTLY different than Brock Purdy under pressure, a phenomenon the Browns, Bengals, and Vikings were eager and able to exploit. The Jaguars’ pass rush is in the bottom half of the league and has had difficulty consistently getting to the quarterback. With a pass-catching arsenal featuring Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Geroge Kittle, and Christian McCaffrey, at least one of them will be open given enough time. If the Jaguars have any hope of shutting this group down, a strong performance from Josh Allen, Travon Walker, DaVon Hamilton, & co. will be essential.
Henry: The key matchup will be if the Jags offense can compete with the 49ers defense. The Niners are fifth in the league in rush defense but allow a below-average 68% completion percentage in the pass game. The Jaguars will have to attack the field vertically, while also trying to stay clear of guys like linebacker Fred Warner and safety Talanao Hufanga in the middle of the field.
Final score prediction?
Dillon: 49ers 28, Jaguars 27
Caitlin: Jaguars 28, 49ers 20
Jefferson: Jaguars 31, 49ers 27
Joseph: 49ers 27, Jaguars 23
Travis: 49ers 24, Jaguars 23
Gus: Jaguars 20, 49ers 17
Adam: 49ers 30, Jaguars 20
Henry: Jaguars 21, 49ers 20
Here are our staff’s Tallysight picks for the full slate of games this week.
What are your Week 10 predictions, Jaguars fans? Let us know in the comments!