Jacksonville Jaguars: Colin Kaepernick

The Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl with a quarterback they picked in the third round.

Since the NFL is a copycat league, are teams now going to try to do it the same way? Are they going to concentrate on building the offense and defense and then finding a quarterback and plugging him in instead of trying to land an elite quarterback first? The Florida Times-Union's Hays Carlyon writes that the Jaguars are going to be a good test for the theory.

“I know [the success rate of finding a franchise quarterback outside the first round] is not really high,” Jaguars general manager David Caldwell said. “There is more of a success rate drafting a guy in the later rounds than you do in the second or third round. Before [Colin] Kaepernick and [Andy] Dalton, it wasn’t very good. Sometimes, quarterbacks that should go in the second round go in the first round and then after that, there isn’t a whole lot left.”

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our Reading the Coverage feature:

The T-U's Ryan O'Halloran breaks down the top four quarterbacks in nine categories.

Carlyon did a two-round mock draft. His picks for the Jaguars: Jadeveon Clowney and Zach Mettenberger.

NFL.com's Bucky Brooks goes over the best- and worst-case scenarios for the Jaguars in the first round.

Here's the weekly Jaguars mailbag.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Blaine Gabbert never became the franchise quarterback former Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Gene Smith envisioned when he traded two picks to get him in the first round of the 2011 draft. The Jaguars finally gave up on Gabbert last Tuesday when current GM David Caldwell traded Gabbert to San Francisco for a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft and a possible conditional pick in 2015.

ESPN.com Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco and 49ers reporter Bill Williamson break down the trade:

DiRocco: Blaine Gabbert clearly wasn't in the Jaguars' plans any longer and I, like most people, expected the team to release him at some point -- though I thought he'd at least go to training camp. But GM David Caldwell was somehow able to work out a trade with 49ers GM Trent Baalke to send Gabbert to San Francisco for a sixth-round pick and a conditional pick in 2015.

What does Baalke like about Gabbert and why did he swing that trade?

[+] EnlargeBlaine Gabbert
Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesUnder the guidance of coach Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers are hoping that Blaine Gabbert can finally flourish.
Williamson: The 49ers had 12 draft picks and they have a stacked roster, thus, low-round draft picks don’t mean much to them. Baalke and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh (who loves taking fliers in young quarterbacks) were both at Gabbert’s pro day three years ago and they had him visit prior to the draft. The 49ers have a need for a backup and always kept Gabbert in mind. I know it may have come as a surprise to folks in Jacksonville that the Jaguars got anything more than a loaf of San Francisco sourdough bread from the 49ers, but they actually do see value in Gabbert.

Mike, what do you think the 49ers are actually getting in Gabbert?

DiRocco: They're getting exactly what you want physically in a quarterback: a big (6-foot-4, 235 pounds), athletic, strong-armed player. That has never been his issue. It's what happens mentally that has held him back. He's somewhat skittish in the pocket and he makes too many questionable decisions on where to throw the ball. It's disconcerting because he's a pretty good practice player, but it doesn't transfer to game day.

There seems to be the thought that if anyone can fix him, it's Jim Harbaugh. But how much time can he devote to Gabbert while still working with Colin Kaepernick?

Williamson: You make a good point. Kaepernick is still not a finished product. But Harbaugh loves tinkering with quarterbacks. Gabbert’s time will be in the offseason, training camp and in the preseason. He needs to take advantage of working with the Quarterback Whisperer. Colt McCoy said last year he learned more about quarterbacking in his one season in San Francisco than in his entire playing career. So this is an opportunity for Gabbert; Harbaugh and his staff are top notch.

Mike, do you think Gabbert can put the misery of the past three years behind him and take advantage of this opportunity?

DiRocco: I think he will definitely benefit from the fresh start, but I don't know if he can overcome his mental issues. I don't buy the argument that he panics and is afraid to get hit. I think he was hurt by being forced to play before he was ready, plus he didn't exactly have a lot of weapons in the passing game. Not many quarterbacks are going to flourish under those conditions. If he's willing to start over from ground zero and approaches this with an open mind, I think he can make strides. He's still only 24 years old.

Bill, it may be too early to tell, but do you think the 49ers view Gabbert as a potential long-term backup or is this just them kicking the tires to see if he's a viable option?

Williamson: I think it’s a total kick-the-tires expedition. Again, it’s a low risk at a low cost. He’ll be the backup this year and they will see what he can do. If he’s terrible, they will move on. If they fix him, perhaps they will try to flip him and make a nice draft-pick profit. Basically, this is a guy who previously intrigued them and they are confident they can make him better. If it doesn’t work, well, at least Baalke and Harbaugh will know they tried.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan created a bit of a stir among fans when he said it’s no mystery that the team would draft a quarterback in May -- and possibly even two.

Notably absent from his comments, however, was the phrase "in the first round."

The Jaguars have the No. 3 overall selection and will have a shot at Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles. For months I’ve been on the Bridgewater bandwagon. I believe he’s the most polished, NFL-ready quarterback in the draft. Manziel wouldn’t be a bad option either because he’s such a dynamic player and will certainly make the Jaguars instantly relevant nationally.

The Jaguars, though, should pass on a quarterback with their first-round pick. They should do the same in the second round, too.

[+] EnlargeJadeveon Clowney, Dak Prescott
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesUsing the No. 3 overall pick on an elite defender like South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney, 7, could appeal to Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley.
That certainly won’t be a popular opinion among fans, who desperately want the team to move on from Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. But it’s the best decision for general manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley as they continue their rebuild of the franchise. Fix and bolster the defense first, especially the pass rush and the secondary, then make quarterback a priority.

Two reasons:

Defense is more important to winning championships than most people realize.

Young, inexperienced quarterbacks, provided they have the pieces in place around them, can make it to and win Super Bowls.

Seattle won the Super Bowl last Sunday because of its stifling defense, which led the NFL in yards allowed per game, passing yards allowed and scoring, and finished tied for seventh in rushing yards allowed. The Seahawks absolutely throttled Denver’s record-setting offense and badgered Denver quarterback Peyton Manning in a 43-8 victory.

But don’t believe that what the Seahawks did signifies a changing philosophy or the start of a new trend in the NFL in which defense -- and not elite quarterbacks -- win championships. Defense has been winning Super Bowls for years, but people overlook that because of the elite quarterbacks.

Six of the past 10 Super Bowl winners had a defense that ranked in the top 11 in the NFL in three of the four major statistical categories (total defense, rush defense, pass defense and scoring defense): Seattle, Green Bay (2011), Pittsburgh (2009, 2006), New York Giants (2008), and New England (2005). Each of those teams -- with the exception of the Seahawks because it’s too early to tell how good Russell Wilson will be -- also had elite quarterbacks.

The Green Bay team that thrived on Aaron Rodgers' right arm? The Packers' defense ranked second in scoring and fifth in passing and total defense. Pittsburgh’s 2009 Super Bowl title team led the league in total defense, pass defense and scoring defense.

The last time New England won the Super Bowl was 2005. That was Tom Brady's third title in four years, but the Patriots' defense was one of the league’s best that season, ranking second in scoring, sixth in rushing and ninth in total defense.

The four other Super Bowl champs of the past decade won because of their quarterbacks (Baltimore in 2013, New York Giants in 2012, New Orleans in 2010 and Indianapolis in 2007), but the Giants wouldn't have won without their pass rush, and the Saints might not have won without cornerback Tracy Porter's fourth-quarter interception return for a touchdown.

The Jaguars’ defense has some solid building blocks -- tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, linebacker Paul Posluszny, safety Johnathan Cyprien and cornerback Dwayne Gratz -- but Caldwell and Bradley need to bolster the pass rush, get more depth on the defensive line and add help at outside linebacker. They should address those areas in the first two rounds, especially if they can nab defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 3 pick.

Bradley is surely in favor of taking that approach. It’s the way Seattle did it during his four years as the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator, and we just saw how well it worked. The team was built around its defense, and everything was in place for a Super Bowl run once Wilson was added to the mix.

Wilson is clearly not an elite quarterback right now. He wasn’t even in the Seahawks’ plans two years ago when they drafted him in the third round, because Pete Carroll had traded for Matt Flynn in the offseason and gave Flynn the starting job. Wilson beat out Flynn and has played solid but not spectacular football, winning a Super Bowl ring in his second season.

More proof that young quarterbacks aren’t a hindrance to success: Colin Kaepernick led San Francisco to the Super Bowl in his second season in the league; Andrew Luck has led Indianapolis to the playoffs in his first two seasons; Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers to the AFC Championship Game as a rookie; and Brady won a Super Bowl in his first season as a starter, which was his second season in the NFL.

Taking a quarterback with the No. 3 pick won’t guarantee that the Jaguars will be ready for a playoff run in 2014 or 2015, especially if, as some inside the building believe, none of the quarterbacks available in this draft are ready to contribute right away. There is no guarantee that Bridgewater, Manziel or Bortles will turn out to be a better quarterback than Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger or Jimmy Garoppolo, anyway, and those latter three are players the Jaguars could land in the third round or later.

The Jaguars need immediate impact players, which is why taking Clowney or another elite pass-rusher in the first two rounds is the better -- albeit not popular -- option.

Jacksonville Jaguars mailbag

December, 19, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars need a quarterback.

They also need a pass-rushing defensive end or outside linebacker.

The question in May's draft will be which one they should grab first.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
Crystal LoGiudice/USA TODAY SportsIf you believe you can build around a quarterback such as Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, you grab him. Right?
Six weeks ago there wasn't a question the Jaguars would be taking a quarterback with their first-round draft pick. But that was when they were winless and held the No. 1 overall pick. And it was also before two of the top college quarterbacks decided they were going to return to school in 2014.

Now, things aren't so clear.

The Jaguars currently sit at No. 4 in the draft order and have two winnable games remaining, which means they could be picking in the 5-7 range. That would most likely not allow general manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley to have their pick of the quarterbacks that are available.

Depending on their draft board and what happens ahead of them (a trade?), they may not even be able to get their No. 2 choice. Would taking the pass rusher they desperately need and picking up a quarterback in the second or third round make more sense in that scenario?

This debate is going to go on for months, especially after the Jan. 15 deadline for underclassmen to declare and there's a set list of quarterbacks that will be available. Here's a quick argument for each, with the caveat that Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, UCLA's Brett Hundley, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and UCF's Blake Bortles decide to declare for the draft as most expect:

Take the QB

This isn't a secret, but the NFL is all about the quarterback. Elite teams have great quarterbacks. All you have to do is look at the teams in the hunt for the playoffs. For the most part, they all have very good quarterbacks, and the teams that don't are going to be early exits.

It's imperative the Jaguars find a franchise quarterback. While this class doesn't have the sure-fire star like Andrew Luck it is a relatively deep class, and there are several quarterbacks who have the pre-draft look of a franchise QB: Bridgewater, Manziel, Bortles, Hundley, and Fresno State's Derek Carr. Any one of those has the potential to develop into the quarterback around which the franchise can be built.

That's pretty much the golden rule of the NFL now. If you can get what you believe will be a franchise quarterback, you grab him. No questions asked. Everything else is secondary to finding that guy.

So, take the quarterback.

Take the pass rusher

Remember that line about the depth of this quarterback class? That means you should be able to find a quarterback in the second or third round. There are plenty from which to choose: Alabama's A.J. McCarron, LSU's Zach Mettenberger, Georgia's Aaron Murray, Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas and Miami's Stephen Morris, for example.

[+] EnlargeAaron Murray, Jadeveon Clowney
AP Photo/Mike StewartWith such a deep quarterback class in this year's draft, it may benefit the Jaguars to chose an elite defender first such as South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney.
Are they as highly rated as Bridgewater, Bortles or Manziel? No, but that doesn't mean they won't be better players. Colin Kaepernick was a second-round pick. So was Drew Brees. Russell Wilson was a third-round pick. Tom Brady a sixth. Tony Romo went undrafted. They seem to be doing pretty well.

The NFL is all about the quarterback, which also means finding a way to stop great QBs. You do that by pressuring them over and over again. That's why teams need elite pass rushers and the Jaguars have a chance to get one of the most gifted ones we've seen in a long time.

Remember Jadeveon Clowney? The guy people said would have been the No. 1 overall pick last year had he been able to come out? The player some experts said shouldn't even play in 2013 because he'd be risking too much? He could still be available when it's the Jaguars' turn to pick. Can't pass him up.

Or UCLA's Anthony Barr and Buffalo's Khalil Mack. All have the ability to become double-digit sack machines.

So, take the pass rusher, then the quarterback.

A few thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars42-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

What it means: The Jaguars are halfway to a dubious historical accomplishment after getting pounded by San Francisco at Wembley Stadium in London. The Jaguars are 0-8 and still on track to become just the second team to go 0-16 in NFL history (2008 Detroit Lions). It was an abysmal first half, with the 49ers at one point having outgained the Jaguars by more than 200 yards. The defense couldn’t stop Frank Gore or Colin Kaepernick. The two drove the 49ers to four consecutive touchdowns, with Kaepernick really hurting the Jaguars with his feet. The Jaguars' offense did show signs of life in the second half, but could manage only one touchdown.

Stock watch: Maurice Jones-Drew touched the ball just 11 times in last week’s loss to San Diego. He more than doubled that against San Francisco, carrying 19 times for 75 yards and catching six passes for 47 yards, by far the most work he’s had this season. Jones-Drew needs to be this heavily involved in the game plan to provide balance in the offense. It was a wasted performance, though, because the Jaguars were overwhelmed defensively.

Development: Mike Brown is developing into a solid No. 3 receiver for the Jaguars. He caught three passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. He was a quarterback at Liberty University who spent much of last season on the practice squad, and this season missed four games because of a fractured vertebra, but he has settled into his role as a slot receiver.

Losing streak continues: The Jaguars have now lost 13 consecutive games dating back to a 24-19 victory over Tennessee on Nov. 25, 2012.

What’s next: The Jaguars have a bye week before returning to action at Tennessee on Nov. 10.

Jaguars fantasy breakdown: Week 8

October, 25, 2013
10/25/13
1:00
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Looking for some help with your fantasy football lineup? Every Friday I'll give you my opinions on which Jacksonville Jaguars players to play and sit, as well as which of the opposing players might be a good play against the Jags. For more fantasy football advice, check out ESPN.com's fantasy football page.

Jaguars

QB Chad Henne: He has had back-to-back 300-yard games and it’s likely the Jaguars will be behind and will need to throw a lot to keep up. The only thing about Henne is that while he throws for a lot of yards he doesn’t throw for a lot of touchdowns -- only two so far. The other issue to consider is the weather: It’s supposed to be rainy with winds up to 20 mph. Verdict: He’s a good option if your league allows two QBs. Otherwise, sit him.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew: He touched the ball only 11 times last week, but he set a season-high with a per-carry average of 4.1 yards. He seems to be running the ball better and the offensive line is becoming more comfortable with the zone blocking scheme. But this’ll likely be another game in which the Jaguars are forced to throw to keep up. Verdict: Sit him.

WR Justin Blackmon: He has had another week to nurse the minor hamstring and groin injuries he played through last week. The Chargers bracketed him to try and contain him. Expect the 49ers to do the same. Verdict: He’s still a legitimate No. 1 fantasy receiver so play him.

WR Cecil Shorts: He also is dealing with a shoulder injury but definitely will play. He should benefit from the extra attention paid to Blackmon. Verdict: Use him as a No. 2 or 3 receiver.

TE Marcedes Lewis: He had just one catch last week, but it was a 31-yard catch-and-run that showed how dangerous he can be. Don’t expect big numbers out of Lewis, who inexplicably wasn’t targeted in the red zone. Verdict: Sit him.

K Josh Scobee: The weather expected at Wembley Stadium isn’t exactly ideal for kickers: rain and 20 mph winds, according to an early forecast. Verdict: Scobee has hit 31 consecutive field goals in October but he’s not a good play this week. Sit him.

Defense/special teams: The Jaguars are last in the NFL in rush defense and they’ll be facing Frank Gore. They’ve had trouble with tight ends and they’ll be facing one of the league’s best in Vernon Davis. The only positive is that Ace Sanders returns as the punt returner. Verdict: Sit ‘em.

49ers

QB Colin Kaepernick: The 49ers used more read-option last week than they had all season, but the expectation is that won’t be the case on Sunday. Kaepernick still has work to do as a passer (he’s only completing 56.6 percent of his passes and has only thrown for eight touchdowns) and the 49ers may ground-and-pound because of the weather. Verdict: He’s a solid play if your league allows two quarterbacks in your lineup. Otherwise, sit him.

RB Frank Gore: He’s fourth in the NFL in rushing (547 yards) and has rushed for five touchdowns. The Jaguars are last in the NFL in rush defense (153.3 yards per game). Verdict: This is a no-brainer.

WR Anquan Boldin: He had 13 of his 34 catches in Week 1 but he’s still the 49ers’ top outside target. The Jaguars will likely play umbrella coverage so Boldin could feast on the short and intermediate routes. Verdict: Play him.

TE Vernon Davis: Tight ends have hurt the Jaguars for 42 catches for 401 yards and five touchdowns this season and Davis is the best one they’ve played to date. Eight of his 26 catches have gone for 20 or more yards and he leads the 49ers with six touchdown catches. Verdict: Gleefully play him.

K Phil Dawson: Dawson has had a solid season (9-for-12 on field goal attempts) but his status is the same as Scobee’s. The weather will be a factor. Verdict: Sit him.

Defense/special teams: What’s not to like about this matchup? The Jaguars have given up a league-high 28 sacks and are rushing for a league-low 63.0 yards per game. Verdict: Play them.
Willis/ShortsGetty Images, USA Today SportsPatrick Willis' 49ers meet Cecil Shorts' Jaguars in the second NFL game in London this season.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The San Francisco 49ers have righted the ship after a shaky start. The Jacksonville Jaguars are still sinking.

The teams going in opposite directions will meet Sunday in London's Wembley Stadium in the second of two NFL games being played in the United Kingdom this season.

The 49ers (5-2) have won four games in a row -- and scored at least 31 points in each of those games -- since starting the season 1-2. The Jaguars are 0-7 and are the first team since the 1984 Houston Oilers to lose their first seven games by double digits.

That makes Sunday's game look like a giant mismatch, yet the Jaguars were 28-point underdogs to the Denver Broncos two weeks ago but lost by only 16 points -- and trailed by just two at halftime.

ESPN.com Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco and 49ers reporter Bill Williamson break down the matchup:

DiRocco: The 49ers used the read-option the most they have all season against Tennessee in Week 7. Will that be a bigger part of the offense again as the season progresses?

Williamson: Mike, I think it is going to be a week-to-week situation. The 49ers used the read-option seven times last week after using it a total of nine in the first six games. The 49ers saw they could exploit Tennessee's defense using it. I think we will see it again, but probably in more challenging games and only in certain situations, when the 49ers are confident it will work. We could maybe see it some in London, but I have a feeling it will be more like the first six weeks of the season.

Mike, if the 49ers do run a lot of read-option offense, do you think the Jaguars can handle it?

DiRocco: Probably not. The Jaguars are last in the NFL in rushing defense (153.3 yards per game) and have given up a league-high nine rushing touchdowns. The defense's biggest problem against the rush is that it has given up a lot of explosive plays. Jacksonville has allowed an NFL-worst 10 rushing plays of 20 or more yards. Stopping the read-option is assignment football and the Jaguars' ends have not been as disciplined as needed. For example, Oakland's Terrelle Pryor ran for 50 yards in Week 2, including a 27-yard run in which the entire defensive front bit on the inside fake.

Bill, the Jaguars have had trouble with tight ends all season and now they face Vernon Davis. Who is the last team that's shut him down how?

Williamson: Davis hurt his hamstring late in the Seattle game in Week 2. He was pretty well shut down in that game before getting hurt. He missed Week 3 against the Colts and then came back against the Rams. He's been good and he is healthy. If the Jaguars have trouble against tight ends, the 49ers will exploit it. Davis and quarterback Colin Kaepernick have a great chemistry going this season. The 49ers' coaching staff is great at exploiting weaknesses.

Mike, do you seeing this being a big problem for Jacksonville?

DiRocco: Absolutely. Tight ends have combined to catch 42 passes for 401 yards and five touchdowns against Jacksonville this season. Depending on the defense called, the Jaguars will either have a safety or linebacker on the tight end. At times, the job has fallen to middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, who is very good against the run but not fast or quick enough in pass coverage. The Jaguars won't use the approach New England did against New Orleans standout Jimmy Graham -- the Patriots put their best corner, Aqib Talib, on him -- so I'd expect Davis to have chances to exploit some matchups with linebackers on Sunday.

Speaking of exploitation, the Anquan Boldin trade looked like a steal in Week 1. How is it regarded now?

Williamson: Still, unabashed thievery. Sure, Boldin had 13 catches in the first week and a combined 21 catches in the following six. But the 49ers would be in trouble without Boldin. He had three circus catches at Tennessee and he's been the team's only reliable wide receiver with Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham out. The 49ers would not be 5-2 without Boldin.

Mike, do you think the Jaguars will keep him in check Sunday?

DiRocco: The Jaguars have done a solid job the past two weeks of playing umbrella coverage and making sure they don't give up deep throws. That does leave the short and intermediate routes open, though, and that's where Boldin thrives. He's a physical receiver and the Jaguars don't yet have the kind of personnel to match up with him. Coach Gus Bradley wants to build a secondary similar to the one he helped build in Seattle, which includes big, physical corners. The Jaguars still have work to do there, although rookie third-round pick Dwayne Gratz (5-foot-11, 201 pounds) is finally back from his high-ankle sprain.

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Get to know the San Francisco 49ers

October, 22, 2013
10/22/13
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Remember when everyone was asking what was wrong with the San Francisco 49ers?

It was exactly a month ago, after they lost 27-7 to the Indianapolis Colts at home and dropped to 1-2. They had scored a total of 10 points in back-to-back losses and were beaten by a combined margin of 46 points.

The answer, it turns out, was nothing.

The 49ers have won four consecutive games since then by an average of 20.3 points. They haven’t scored fewer than 31 points or given up more than 20 in any of those games, either.

Now they head to London as 17-point favorites over the winless Jacksonville Jaguars.

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET and the game will be televised on Fox.

Here’s a look at the 49ers:

Record: 5-2.

Last week: Beat Tennessee 31-17.

Coach: Jim Harbaugh, third season (32-11-1).

Offensive coordinator: Greg Roman.

Defensive coordinator: Vic Fangio.

Series record: Jaguars lead 2-1.

THREE PLAYERS TO KNOW ON OFFENSE

RB Frank Gore: He’s fourth in the NFL in rushing (547 yards) and tied for fifth with five rushing touchdowns. However, he tops the NFL with seven runs of 20 or more yards. Only two other people have more than four: Terrelle Pryor and Alfred Morris each have five.

TE Vernon Davis: Davis missed time with a hamstring injury but has still caught 26 passes for 466 yards and six touchdowns. He’s averaging a team-best 17.9 yards per reception, too, which shows just how much of a downfield threat he has been this season. He has eight catches of 20 or more yards, including a 64-yarder.

QB Colin Kaepernick: Kaepernick has unofficially been a quarterback for a full season, having started the 49ers’ last 17 games (including postseason). When he hasn’t played well, the 49ers haven’t won. He has eight touchdown passes and one interception in the five victories and no touchdown passes and four interceptions in the two losses.

THREE PLAYERS TO KNOW ON DEFENSE

LB NaVorro Bowman: He leads the team with 59 tackles and also has two sacks, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. He has been the 49ers’ most consistent defensive player this season, especially with defensive end Aldon Smith out and linebacker Patrick Willis also missing time with an injury.

LB Patrick Willis: He’s a turnover-causing machine, having forced 15 fumbles and intercepting seven passes in his career.

S Eric Reid: Reid is one of the candidates for Defensive Rookie of the Year. The No. 18 overall selection has knocked down five passes and intercepted three.

ETC.

Defensive tackle Lawrence Okoye, who is out for the season with a knee injury, is the British record holder in the discus and represented the United Kingdom in the 2012 summer Olympics. ... San Francisco has forced 12 turnovers during its four-game winning streak and has scored points off each one: eight touchdowns and four field goals. ... Kaepernick had a total QBR of 99.0 against Tennessee last Sunday. That’s one point shy of a perfect rating and the highest mark by any quarterback this season. ... The 49ers and Jaguars haven’t played since 2009, which was the 49ers’ lone victory in the series (20-3 in Candlestick Park). ... The team flew directly to London immediately after their victory over Tennessee in Nashville.

Jaguars fantasy breakdown: Week 4

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
4:00
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Looking for some help with your fantasy football lineup? Every Friday I'll give you my opinions on which Jacksonville Jaguars players to play and sit, as well as which of the opposing players might be a good play against the Jags. For more fantasy football advice, check out ESPN.com's fantasy football page.

Jaguars

QB Blaine Gabbert: He returns to the field after missing the last two weeks because of a cut on the back of his hand. The good news is he gets Marcedes Lewis back, too. The bad news is two of the Jaguars’ four active receivers for the game might come from the practice squad. Plus, he’s facing league’s 11th-best passing defense. Verdict: Keep him out of your lineup.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew: Lewis’ return should help in the running game, too. But will it make enough of a difference for Jones-Drew to finally get rolling? Probably not because the interior of the line is still struggling. However, Jones-Drew has averaged 106.8 yards per game in his career against the Colts. Verdict: He might not be a bad gamble as your No. 3 back in deep leagues.

WR Cecil Shorts: Shorts has caught 16 passes in the past two games. However, only three have come in the first half and the rest came when the Jaguars were in catch-up mode. But in fantasy football, it doesn’t matter when you accumulate catches and yards. Verdict: He’ll be the top target again this week so he’s a viable play as a No. 2 receiver.

TE Marcedes Lewis: Lewis finally makes his season debut after missing the first three games with a calf injury. He should be a factor in the passing game because he’s a familiar and reliable target for Gabbert. Verdict: He’s worth a gamble if you’re trying to decide between players among the second tier of tight ends.

K Josh Scobee: The offense still isn’t consistent enough for Scobee to get a lot of work, but he has kicked four field goals of 50 or more yards in his career against the Colts, including a 59-yarder. That’s more than he’s had against any other teams. Verdict: Start him, especially if you get additional points for long field goals.

Defense/special teams: Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton against a secondary that is starting two rookies. Not a good matchup. But the special teams are intriguing because rookie Ace Sanders is finally going to return punts, which is something he did very well at South Carolina. Verdict: Don’t use them this week.

Colts

QB Andrew Luck: Luck isn’t exactly throwing it around the yard through the first three weeks. He is averaging just 227.7 yards per game passing but he also has rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns and is averaging 7.1 yards per carry. He’s also going against two rookies in the secondary. Verdict: He’s a definite start.

RB Trent Richardson: He has now been with the Colts for more than a week and is slowly picking up the offense. With Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) out Richardson is sure to get the bulk of the carries against a Jaguars defense that is giving up 167.7 yards per game. Verdict: Start him.

WR Reggie Wayne: He may be in his 13th season but he’s still the Colts’ top pass catcher (18 receptions, 205 yards, one TD). There could be times where he’s matched up with rookie seventh-round pick Demetrius McCray. That probably will end badly for McCray. Verdict: You should have him in your lineup.

WR T.Y. Hilton: The second-year player is the Colts’ big-play receiver. He’s averaging a team-high 14.3 yards per catch, and his 10 catches are second only to Reggie Wayne’s 11. Verdict: You could play him as your No. 3 receiver or flex.

TE Coby Fleener: Fleener was predicted to have a big year, but so far has caught only seven passes for 89 yards and one touchdown -- and one of those receptions was a 40-yarder. The Jaguars, though, have had trouble with tight ends (see last week’s game agaunst Seattle). Verdict: He’s a solid play.

K Adam Vinatieri: He’s not the point machine he was during his heyday, but he’s a reliable kicker who should get plenty of work on Sunday. Verdict: Play him.

Defense/special teams: The Colts are coming off a surprising 27-7 victory over San Francisco in which the defense forced two turnovers and limited Colin Kaepernick to only 170 yards of total offense. They now get a Jaguars offensive line that has struggled up the middle and a quarterback making his first start since Week 1. Verdict: Definitely play them.

Double Coverage: Colts at Jaguars

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
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Maurice Jones-Drew and Trent RichardsonUSA TODAY SportsMaurice Jones-Drew and Trent Richardson will square off Sunday in Jacksonville.
The winless Jacksonville Jaguars return to EverBank Field after spending more than a week on the West Coast -- they played at Oakland on Sept. 15 and remained in California to prepare for this past Sunday's game at Seattle -- for Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts had a much better trip out West than the Jaguars. They routed host San Francisco 27-7 on Sunday by shutting down 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The Jaguars, meanwhile, fell to 0-3 after the Seahawks routed them 45-17. Sunday presents another tough task for the Jaguars. Colts reporter Mike Wells and Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco take a look at this week's matchup.

Michael DiRocco: Mike, Peyton Manning was such an iconic figure in Indianapolis. With all the success he's had in his first 20 games, has Andrew Luck come close to that level yet?

Mike Wells: Manning may be on his way to his fifth MVP trophy out there in Denver, but the Colts could be set at quarterback for the next decade with Luck. It’s only natural to compare the quarterbacks because they both carry themselves in the same manner. They’re humble, perfectionists and, best of all, damn good quarterbacks. Luck isn’t at the same level as Manning, but the goal in Indianapolis is for him to reach that status or beyond. Speaking of quarterbacks -- or maybe it’s not a good idea -- what’s going on down there in Jacksonville with that situation? When do the Jaguars officially throw in the towel and say Blaine Gabbert is not the answer for them?

DiRocco: That is the general belief around Jacksonville, but that's not yet the case for new general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley. They have given Gabbert a clean slate and will evaluate him based on what they see from the 6-foot-4, 235-pounder this season. They have to find out whether Gabbert is the player around whom they can build the franchise, so this season is essentially a pressure-packed tryout for him. He has not performed well since being taken with the 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft. This year he's dealing with a pretty porous offensive line, and two of his top three weapons -- tight end Marcedes Lewis (calf) and Justin Blackmon (suspension) -- have yet to play this season. By the end of the season Caldwell and Bradley will know whether Gabbert is the answer. The Colts obviously have one piece of their foundation in Luck, but they recently traded for Trent Richardson to fulfill the role Edgerrin James had for years. My question is this: Who's the next Marvin Harrison?

Wells: They don’t have that receiver yet. Reggie Wayne is obviously a future Hall of Famer, and he’s still playing at a very high level. But he’s also 34 years old. The Colts are hoping that Darrius Heyward-Bey could be that receiver. He was the No. 7 overall pick in 2009, so he has the potential to complement Luck and Richardson. But Heyward-Bey has to get over his case of the drops. Playing well in spurts isn’t good enough. In fact, T.Y. Hilton, the Colts’ third receiver, outplayed Heyward-Bey in the preseason. I hate to do this to you -- and probably a lot of NFL fans -- but is there any possibility that the Jaguars would even think about bringing in Tim Tebow? There are fans down there rallying for him. And if anything, it’ll help in the attendance department.

DiRocco: Not going to happen, no matter how much noise Tebow’s supporters make. The Jaguars are moving forward with Gabbert, and if it turns out he’s not the player around whom they can build the franchise, they’ll look to the 2014 draft to find a quarterback. I covered Tebow at Florida, and he was fantastic, one of the best collegiate players of all time, but he’s just not able to make the leap. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t diminish what he did at Florida in any way. As for attendance, the Jaguars actually ranked 20th in that stat last season, drawing an average of 64,984. That’s ahead of teams such as Chicago (62,329), Minnesota (60,725) and Miami (57,379). That was for a 2-14 team that didn’t have Tebow. Sometimes young, talented teams that make the playoffs take a step backward the following season before really taking off a year later. Do you see that being the case with the Colts in 2013?

Wells: The Colts are a better team this season, but they will take a step back with their record by a game. Good fortune was on their side in more ways than one last season. They caught some breaks and Luck led them to seven fourth-quarter comebacks. They're still a playoff team, and if Houston slips up, the Colts will take advantage of it and win the division. The Jags are ranked last in this week's Power Rankings. Will they stay there all season?

DiRocco: I think they'll battle the Browns and -- I can't believe I'm writing this -- the Steelers for the last spot all year. Right now no team is playing worse than the Jaguars, especially on offense. But I do think things will get a little better with the return of Lewis and Blackmon. The offensive line has to play much better, though. Cleveland's victory last week was surprising, but I see that as more of a byproduct of emotion and anger after the Richardson trade than anything else. The Steelers have looked horrible, and the loss of Maurkice Pouncey has them reeling. Plus, we all know it's a matter of time before Ben Roethlisberger gets hurt.

Signing Tebow would be a bad idea

September, 16, 2013
9/16/13
1:35
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- The fans who are gathering outside EverBank Field Monday afternoon for a “Sign Tebow” rally are going to be wasting their time -- and not just because Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell is still on the West Coast with the team and won’t be able to witness the demonstration.

Caldwell has made it abundantly clear the team has no desire to sign free-agent quarterback Tim Tebow, a Jacksonville, Fla., native who won the Heisman Trophy and helped Florida win two national championships. He’s not going to budge on that issue, and it’s the right move.

Tebow wouldn’t have any more success than Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne has had in the first two weeks of the season. He’d be just as hamstrung by a depleted receiving corps and leaky offensive line as Gabbert and Henne have been. He would be able to add a running element to the position, but that doesn’t necessarily make a difference.

Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson are quarterbacks who can run, but they’re also more accomplished passers than Tebow. Kaepernick, Wilson and Griffin all complete at least 61 percent of their passes. Tebow’s career completion percentage is 47.9. In the NFL, you win because of a quarterback’s arm, not his legs.

The Jaguars are undertaking a major rebuild, and the No. 1 priority is finding out if Gabbert, the No. 10 overall selection in 2011, can be a franchise quarterback and the player around which the team can be built. The only way to determine that is by having Gabbert play. Plus, there are people inside the building who believe Gabbert is a much better quarterback than he’s shown so far and will, with the right pieces around him, be successful.

The additional ticket sale argument is compelling, but there’s no way to quantify that his signing would have a significant effect on attendance.

Tebow might have been ruined as a quarterback, anyway. He’s had many people tinkering with his throwing motion and has gone through three different head coaches and three different offensive systems. He isn’t the same player he was coming out of Florida.

Tebow is a great role model and person. He’ll likely be the best athlete to ever come out of Jacksonville. But he shouldn’t be a Jaguars quarterback.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- This is a make or break season for Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

Either he proves he can be a consistent starter who could develop into a franchise quarterback or the Jaguars will give up on the 6-foot-4, 235-pounder and look for a quarterback in the draft.

The Jaguars took Gabbert with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2011 draft, believing he would become a quarterback that could lead the franchise to a Super Bowl. He obviously hasn’t developed the way the team had hoped, and entering his third season he has completed just 53.8 percent of his passes for 3,876 yards and 21 touchdowns with 17 interceptions.

His inconsistency -- in his 24 starts he has completed at least half of his passes 16 times (and also a 17th game in which was injured went 2-for-2) but has also had seven games in which he completed less than 50 percent of his passes -- looks even worse when compared to the other 11 quarterbacks who were drafted in 2011.

[+] EnlargeBlaine Gabbert
Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesBlaine Gabbert is just 5-19 as the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
More importantly, his record as a starter is 5-19 (.208). That's the worst record among the 12 quarterbacks taken in the 2011 NFL draft. Six, including Gabbert, were taken in the first two rounds and those are the players against which he should be measured, so here’s a breakdown:

Cam Newton (No. 1 overall by Carolina): Newton had a fantastic first season, setting rookie records for passing yards (4,051) and rushing yards by a quarterback (706). Those numbers lasted only a season, though, as Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III broke them last season. Newton is 13-19 as a starter after going 6-10 as a rookie and 7-9 last season. Career stats: 590-1,002-29, 7,920 yards, 40 TDs; 1,447 yards, 22 TDs rushing.

Jake Locker (No. 8 overall by Tennessee): Locker played in five games as a rookie but won the starting job entering last season. He missed five games and parts of two others because of two shoulder separations and led the Titans to a 4-7 record in the 11 games which he started. He completed 56.4 percent of his passes for 2,176 yards and 10 touchdowns with 11 interceptions in 2012. Career stats: 211-380-11, 2,718, 14 TDs.

Christian Ponder (No. 12 overall by Minnesota): He started the final 10 games of his rookie season (going 2-8) but helped lead the Vikings to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth last season, though, he missed the playoff game with a deep triceps bruise. This, too, is a make-or-break season for Ponder. Career stats: 458-774-25, 4,788 yards, 31 TDs.

Andy Dalton (second round, No. 35 overall by Cincinnati): Dalton is by far the most successful quarterback of the group, having started every game the past two seasons and leading the Bengals to a 19-13 record and two playoff berths. Each season has ended with playoff losses to Houston, but it was the first time since 1981-82 the franchise has made back-to-back playoff appearances. Career stats: 629-1,044-29, 7,067 yards, 47 TDs.

Colin Kaepernick (second round, No. 36 overall by San Francisco): Kaepernick was a relative unknown until he replaced Alex Smith (concussion) in Week 10. He led the 49ers to a 5-2 record to close the regular season and playoff victories over Green Bay and Atlanta to reach the Super Bowl. He threw for 798 yards and four TDs and rushed for 264 yards and three TDs in the postseason. Career stats: 139-223-3, 1,849 yards, 10 TDs.

Here's a look at the other six:

Ryan Mallett (third round, No. 74 overall by New England): He has played in four games in two seasons in mop-up duty in relief of Tom Brady. He was the subject of trade rumors early in the preseason but remains with the Patriots. Career stats: 1-4-1, 17 yards.

Ricky Stanzi (fifth round, No. 135 overall): Spent two seasons with the Chiefs until being cut last week. He is now with the Jaguars as the No. 3 quarterback behind Gabbert and Chad Henne. He has never appeared in a game.

T.J. Yates (fifth round, No. 152 overall by Houston): He started the last five games of the regular season and two playoff games in 2011 when Matt Schaub was out with a Lisfranc injury. He led the Texans to a 3-4 record in those games, which included a 31-10 victory over Cincinnati in a wild-card game that was the first playoff victory in franchise history. Career stats: 86-144-4, 987 yards, 3 TDs.

Nathan Enderle (fifth round, No. 160 overall): He spent the 2011 season with the Bears but was waived after the season. He went to training camp with the Jaguars and spent time with Tennessee in the offseason. He signed with San Diego on July 31 and was among the Chargers cut last week. He has never appeared in a game.

Tyrod Taylor (sixth round, No. 180 overall): He has played in 10 games in relief of Joe Flacco. Career stats: 18-30-1, 197 yards.

Greg McElroy (seventh round, No. 208 overall): The former Alabama standout started one game for the New York Jets last season, going 14-for-24 for 185 yards with one interception in a 27-17 loss to San Diego. He was released earlier this week. Career numbers: 19-31-1, 214 yards, 1 TD.

Get to know the Kansas City Chiefs

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
11:00
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars’ 2013 season -- and with it the Gus Bradley/Dave Caldwell era -- finally begins on Sunday when they play host to Kansas City. The Jaguars and Chiefs were two of the worst teams in the NFL last season, but there’s optimism in both cities that 2013 will be better.

In Jacksonville, it’s because of the energy and enthusiasm of Bradley, who spent the past four seasons as the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator, and the presence of Caldwell, who spent his formative years in the NFL under two of the league’s top executives in Bill Polian and Thomas Dimitroff. In Kansas City, it’s because of the addition of Andy Reid, who led Philadelphia to nine postseason appearances in 14 seasons, and quarterback Alex Smith, who seemed to turn a corner and become a consistent player for San Francisco before being injured and eventually replaced by Colin Kaepernick.

The Chiefs also have a new general manager in John Dorsey, who spent the past 12 seasons as the director of college scouting for the Green Bay Packers.

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. EST and the game will be televised on CBS with a broadcast team of Spero Dedes (play-by-play), Steve Beurlein (color) and Steve Tasker (sideline).

Here’s a look at the Chiefs:

2012 Record: 2-14.

Coach: Andy Reid, first season; 14th season overall (130-93-1).

Offensive coordinator: Doug Pederson.

Defensive coordinator: Bob Sutton.

Series record: Jaguars lead 6-3.

THREE PLAYERS TO KNOW ON OFFENSE

RB Jamal Charles: The Chiefs were fifth in the NFL (and tops in the AFC) in rushing last season and were paced by Charles’ 1,509 yards. His 4,536 career rushing yards is fourth on the Chiefs’ all-time rushing list and he’s 361 yards shy of third place (Christian Okoye, 4,897 yards) and 1,536 yards shy of tying all-time leader Priest Holmes (6,070). The 5-foot-11, 199-pound Charles is a capable between-the-tackles runner, but he’s also a big-play threat, having recorded four touchdown runs of 80 or more yards in his career.

QB Alex Smith: He may not be a dynamic passer, but he has been careful with the football. Since 2010, Smith has thrown the fewest interceptions (20) among quarterbacks who have thrown at least 1,000 passes. That’s four fewer than Tom Brady, five fewer than Aaron Rodgers, and seven fewer than Ben Roethlisberger. One of the Chiefs’ biggest issues last season was turnovers. Kansas City turned the ball over 37 times, including 20 interceptions by Chiefs quarterbacks.

WR Dwayne Bowe: Bowe is one of the league’s most dangerous receivers but was hurt last season by inconsistent quarterback play. He caught 59 passes for 801 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games, which were his lowest numbers since he caught 47 passes for 589 yards in 11 games in 2009. He’ll be a tough player for the Jaguars’ secondary to handle, especially considering the Jaguars will be starting a pair of rookies in cornerback Dwayne Gratz and safety Johnathan Cyprien.

THREE PLAYERS TO KNOW ON DEFENSE

OLB Justin Houston: The third-year player from Georgia had a team-high 10 sacks to go along with 66 tackles last season. He emerged as one of the league’s top young defenders and was voted to the Pro Bowl. The Chiefs want to pressure the quarterback more this season and Houston is a big part of that plan, but he’s also athletic enough to drop into pass coverage. He’ll likely be matched up against Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis.

S Eric Berry: Berry is a Pro Bowler who will sometimes be used as a linebacker in Sutton’s defensive scheme. He bounced back last season with 86 tackles and 10 passes defensed after missing all but one game of the 2011 season with a torn ACL. Expect Berry to be all over the place as the Chiefs try to take advantage of the athleticism and playmaking ability of one of the league’s top young defenders.

OLB Tamba Hali: Nobody has been more reliable and consistent for the Chiefs than Hali, who has missed just one game in eight seasons. Although his sack production has slipped the past two seasons (12.0 in 2011 and 9.0 last season) from 14.5 in 2010, he is still a solid pass rusher off the edge and he was voted to the Pro Bowl last season. He’ll be matched up against Jaguars left tackle Eugene Monroe, who is coming into his own as one of the league’s better tackles.

ETC.

Kansas City has lost six of its last seven season openers. … The Chiefs’ special teams were impressive during the preseason. They blocked two kicks and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. Kicker Ryan Succop made all nine of his field goal attempts. … The Chiefs have 30 new players on the 53-man roster, but among the 23 returning players are six Pro Bowlers from 2012. … Punter Dustin Colquitt put 45 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line last season.

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