LONDON – The 49ers spoke to the international media in the past several days as if they were preparing to face the Jacksonville Juggernauts – and not the winless and thoroughly inept Jaguars.
Defensive players raved about an improved offense since quarterback Chad Henne and wide receiver Justin Blackmon took over as a dangerous combination in the passing game. And the 49ers’ offensive players – and coaches – complimented the Jaguars’ stout and aggressive defensive line.
Yeah . . . so much for that.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman devised a 49ers game plan that confounded and toyed with the toothless Jaguars in a 42-10 victory in front of 83,559 fans at Wembley Stadium. It was the 49ers’ fifth consecutive victory heading into the second half of the season.
The 49ers scored touchdowns on their first four possessions. And they created confusion almost immediately, as Roman managed to sneak fullback Bruce Miller wide to the right side near the 49ers’ sideline. Miller was uncovered and quarterback Colin Kaepernick tossed a pass that went for a 43-yard gain.
Four plays later, faced with a fourth-and-1 situation, coach Jim Harbaugh opted against sending out kicker Phil Dawson. Instead, the 49ers picked up the first down on running back Frank Gore’s 2-yard gain.
The 49ers ultimately capped the eight-play, 76-yard drive with Gore’s 19-yard touchdown run upon taking a handoff from Kapernick on a read-option play.
Kaepernick picked up outstanding blocks from left tackle Joe Staley and Gore for a 12-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead.
Kaepernick later found tight end Vernon Davis on a 2-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter. And Kaepernick scored another touchdown on a 9-yard run with the help of a Davis block as the 49ers built a 28-0 lead with 7:49 remaining in the half.
Kaepernick, who entered the game with one rushing touchdown in the first seven games, rushed for 54 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Kaepernick was also 10 of 16 passing for 164 yards and one touchdown.
Meanwhile, Gore gained 71 yards and two touchdowns on 19 rushing attempts. He entered the game with 9,386 career yards and passed Earl Campbell and Shaun Alexander to move into 30th place all-time on the NFL rushing list.
Roman’s game plan and play-calling was especially noteworthy considering his name was connected to the Jaguars following the firing of Mike Mularkey after last season.
But newly hired Jacksonville general manager David Caldwell did not wait to interview Roman, his old college roommate at John Carroll University (University Heights, Ohio). With the 49ers on the way to the Super Bowl, the Jaguars hired former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.
CSNBayArea.com asked Caldwell at the NFL scouting combine about Roman and he answered, “Greg was on the radar and he probably would've warranted an opportunity to interview. But when Gus came through, he really knocked my doors off.”
On Sunday, it was the 49ers who slammed the door immediately on any hope the Jaguars had of pulling off the upset. The 49ers stretched their win streak to five games – and have scored 30 points or more in each of those games.
The 49ers looked like a college team trying to improve its BCS resume with a rout against an overmatched opponent. The 49ers were able to do anything they wanted against the Jaguars, who fall to 0-8 on the season.
Turning it around: At one point, the 49ers were 1-2 and reeling with back-to-back losses to Seattle and Indianapolis. But all the 49ers have done is pile up 30-point performances and double-digit victories. The 49ers have scored 30 points or more in five consecutive games for the first time since Weeks 3 through 8 of the 1997 season. And the 49ers’ fifth straight victory of 10 or more points is the first time the 49ers have done that since the 1995 season.
Skuta scores: The 49ers’ defense got into the act with linebacker Dan Skuta’s 45-yard fumble return in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Patrick Willis stripped tight end Marcedes Lewis after a short pass, and Skuta scooped it up. He made it around the left sideline, avoided one tackle attempt with a hurdle and picked up a block from Ray McDonald down the field for the first touchdown of his career.
Watching from sideline: Veteran Nnamdi Asomugha and second-year player LaMichael James were inactive for Sunday’s game. Asomugha was the 49ers’ No. 3 cornerback for the first three games of the season. He missed one game due to a knee injury, and Tramaine Brock took over. Asomugha is on shaky ground with the 49ers, who will have to clear a roster spot for cornerback Eric Wright before the next game. James has been inactive for 18 of his 24 regular-season games with the 49ers.
Deadline deal?: The 49ers are not expected to obtain a player at the trade deadline, but they could be looking to unload running back Anthony Dixon as they look to clear roster spots for the returns of several players in the second half of the season. The 49ers are looking to trade Dixon, the NFL Network reported, citing NFL executives. Dixon is in the final year of his contract. The 49ers will have to create as many as six spots on their 53-man roster in the second half of the season to account for the returns of Mario Manningham, Eric Wright, Tank Carradine, Aldon Smith, Nick Moody and Michael Crabtree.
This ‘n’ that: Receiver/return man Kyle Williams had a rough game, though it did not lead to any giveaways. But it did lead to his benching from kickoff returns. Williams fumbled the opening kickoff but managed to recover the loose ball. He also muffed a punt out of bounds in the second quarter. The first two pass attempts – albeit difficult chances – deflected off his hands. Late in the third quarter, the 49ers removed Williams on a kickoff return and Dixon responded with a 47-yard return. . .
Brock, who is tied for the 49ers lead with three interceptions, nearly had No. 4 when he had a Henne pass in his hands but could not hold on. Shortly thereafter, he got greedy when he tried to jump a route and surrendered a 29-yard scoring pass to Mike Brown. . .
The Alex Smith-led Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Cleveland Browns to improve to 8-0 and guarantee the 49ers the Chiefs’ second-round pick in the 2014 draft, as a condition of the trade in the spring.