LONDON -- The San Francisco 49ers have won four straight games and are one of the hottest teams in the NFL. The Jacksonville Jaguars are 0-7, and some pundits think the hapless outfit could pull a reverse table run.
The 49ers are two-plus touchdown favorites to win this mismatch at Wembley Stadium.The mismatch looks staggering. The 49ers have scored at least 31 points in four straight games. Jacksonville had lost eight straight games by 10 points or more. It has been outscored by 146 points this season. According to ESPN Stats & Information, it’s tied for the second worst point differential through seven games since the 1970 league merger.
Thus, it is no surprise that key members of the 49ers are talking up the Jaguars leading up to the meeting.
"[There's] many challenges that the Jaguars pose," San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday. "They've been in tight games and especially you look at the Broncos game, it was a two-point game at the end of the third quarter. Defensive line is outstanding. They've gotten hits on every quarterback they've played. They've gotten big hits on Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, all of them. Name a team they've played, they've gotten to the quarterback.
"So, that'll be a challenge for us. They're really good off the ball up front defensively. And another big challenge is the special teams. Jaguars special teams is outstanding ... They play with great effort. And those are dangerous teams when you can see them getting better."
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick also sang the praises of the Jaguars: "They're very aggressive. They play hard. They play fast. Our offensive line is going to have to be on top of things this week ... I think they are overlooked. Same way the Cardinals defense was overlooked last year. They had a good defense, they just couldn't get wins. So, I think this is a similar defense where they're a good defense, they just haven't quite put everything together."
The 49ers are talking up the Jaguars as much to convince themselves as anything. Spending a week in London can be tricky for a team, especially if it loses focus because it's facing a lesser opponent. Thus, the 49ers may need their own verbal fuel to keep them on track this week.