The San Francisco 49ers got right in their bye week.
Bolstered by an upgraded pass rush with the newly acquired Chase Young, the 49ers dominated the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday in a 34-3 win.
The win snaps a three-game losing streak the 49ers took into their midseason bye that sparked questions about their championship viability. On Sunday, they looked very much like the Super Bowl contender that started 5-0 while smothering one of the league’s hottest teams.
From an overwhelming pass rush to a bounce-back game from quarterback Brock Purdy, the 49ers controlled every aspect of Sunday's game against a 6-2 Jaguars team that entered riding a five-game win streak.
San Francisco's defensive front stood out the most.
The 49ers sacked Trevor Lawrence five times and hit him 10 more times. They intercepted him twice, then thwarted Jacksonville's best touchdown opportunity with a fumble recovery in the red zone.
San Francisco's offense, meanwhile, didn't turn the ball over once against a Jaguars defense that entered Sunday with a league-best 18 takeaways.
Young makes early impact alongside Bosa
Chase Young made his 49ers debut Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars after joining San Francisco from the Washington Commanders at the trade deadline. He made an immediate impact alongside fellow Pro Bowl pass rusher Nick Bosa.
With San Francisco leading 10-0 early in the second quarter, the Jaguars faced second-and-15 from the 49ers' 46-yard line. The 49ers dropped eight men back in coverage as the Jaguars worked with an empty backfield in an obvious passing situation. San Francisco still got pressure.
Young and Bosa both beat their blockers off the edge. When Lawrence couldn't find an open receiver on his first look, he stepped up in the pocket. There, he was met by both Bosa and Young, who each anticipated his move. Both players wrapped Lawrence up while Bosa swiped at the ball, forcing a fumble.
— NFL (@NFL) November 12, 2023
Bosa recovered the ball for a turnover at midfield.
Applying pressure with a four-man rush is one of football's most coveted abilities. Doing so limits even the best NFL quarterbacks. Getting pressure with three is even better. It requires special talent off the edge, which the 49ers possess.
Bosa is a three-time Pro Bowler and the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Young is a former Defensive Rookie of the Year who made the Pro Bowl in his first season after being selected with the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Injuries have hindered his career since, but he's just 24 years old with the upside that made him an elite prospect coming out of Ohio State. He's landed in a situation on a strong 49ers defense that can unleash that upside.
Young won't see many double teams playing opposite Bosa on the 49ers pass rush. As long as he's healthy, he'll have plenty of opportunities to disrupt opposing backfields in San Francisco. For the 49ers, the tandem could be a difference-maker in their season.
The strip-sack was a sign of things to come on a difficult day for Lawrence.
Brock Purdy bounces back in a big way
The 49ers took a 13-3 lead into halftime, then opened the game up on the first possession of the third quarter with a 66-yard touchdown pass from Purdy to George Kittle. Purdy stood in the pocket as it collapsed around him and delivered a perfectly placed ball to a streaking Kittle, who beat linebacker Devin Lloyd in single coverage down the right sideline.
It was the type of play that largely eluded Purdy during San Francisco's three-game skid that saw Purdy throw all five of his interceptions on the season. There were no major mistakes from Purdy on Sunday. He finished the day completing 19 of 26 pass attempts for 296 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
The touchdown to Kittle forced the Jaguars to play from 17 points behind and allowed the 49ers' pass rush to tee off on Lawrence.
Like they did on the second-quarter strip-sack, the 49ers routinely got pressure on Lawrence without blitzing, forcing him into quick decisions against a loaded secondary when he managed to get rid of the ball. This routinely led to opportunities for San Francisco's defense, including a third-quarter interception by safety Talanoa Hufanga, sparked by pressure from Bosa.
— NFL (@NFL) November 12, 2023
The Jaguars then saw a late scoring opportunity result in a strip and fumble recovery by cornerback Ambry Thomas on a Christian Kirk catch in the red zone while trailing 20-3. San Francisco converted the turnover into a touchdown, and the Jaguars never threatened again.
Bosa finished the day with 1.5 sacks, two quarterback hits, a pass defended and the fumble forced and recovered on his shared strip sack with Young. Young tallied a half sack and two quarterback hits in his 49ers debut.
San Francisco out-gained Jacksonville on offense 437 yards to 221 and held a 4-0 turnover edge. Lawrence completed 17 of 29 passes for 185 yards with two interceptions in the worst game of the season for the Pro Bowler. He called the performance "one of the worst games I've probably played in my career."
It added up to a total effort from the 49ers to put the rest of the NFL on notice that they are, indeed, back as championship contenders.