May 26, 2024

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars34-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday was ugly, embarrassing and humbling.

There are plenty of lessons for the Jaguars (6-3) to learn after they gave up a season-high 437 yards, turned the ball over a season-high four times (three by quarterback Trevor Lawrence) and scored the fewest points since a 20-0 loss in Tennessee on Dec. 12, 2021.

Lawrence played arguably his worst game of the season. He was sacked five times, threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and said his performance was one of the worst of his career. Lawrence’s first lost fumble of the afternoon was the 18th of his career. That’s seven more than any other NFL player since 2021 (Lamar Jackson, 11).

As expected, the 49ers defense caused problems for Lawrence. He went 1-of-6 with two interceptions when pressured and now has more interceptions when pressured this season (5) than he did all of last season (3).

The Jaguars offense as a whole managed just 221 yards, their fewest since Week 4 last season, and failed to score a touchdown for the second time at home this season (Week 2 vs. Kansas City).

“I think you have got to feel the pain and embarrassment of today, and that’s what it is,” Lawrence said. “We couldn’t do anything right today, but you’ve got to flush it, too. That’s the thing, it sucks, but the reality is that a 31-point loss is the same as a 3-point loss and we lost today. We have got to move on.”

The loss could also be considered something else: Somewhat of a good thing — in a silver lining, lesson-learned, eye-opening kind of way.

That’s how Jaguars players are looking at the team’s third loss in four games at their home stadium this season. They understand what it means: There’s still a ways to go before the Jaguars can say they’ve joined the league’s elite teams.

“We know the type of team we’re capable of being,” linebacker Foyesade Oluokun said. “I was telling the boys late in the fourth [quarter], ‘Thank God it happened.’

“… Not that we wanted it to happen, but blessings for everything and we’ll learn from it.”

Coach Doug Pederson wants his players to realize that as bad as Sunday was — he called it a humbling experience — the Jaguars still lead the AFC South and have back-to-back games against division opponents, so what happened against the 49ers can’t linger beyond Monday.

If the loss does snowball, a team that looked like it could be a contender for the No. 1 seed in the AFC could find itself fighting just to make the playoffs.

“I guess the beauty of everything is we still sit in the driver’s seat,” Pederson said. “We’re 6-3 and still have a lot of football ahead…

“I told the team again, we haven’t done anything here. We’re trying to be like [San Francisco]. We’re trying to have that consistency [as a winner] and to me this will be in some ways good for our players. A little bit of a wakeup call, quite honestly, myself included. Coaches, players, we all have to think about what are we willing to give up these next eight games so we don’t do this again. I think our players will rebound, they always have, and we look forward to next week.”

The Jaguars play host to the Tennessee Titans (3-6) on Sunday and then play at the Houston Texans (5-4) the week after. The Texans upset the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday and play Arizona (2-8) this weekend, so that matchup against the Jaguars could be for the division lead if things go south for the Jaguars vs. the Titans. The Texans won the first matchup vs. the Jaguars, 37-17, in Week 3.

“We can’t hit the panic button. We can’t make [the 49ers loss] more than it is,” Lawrence said. “We played terrible. We laid an egg. Nothing went right. We didn’t do anything right and we’ve got to bounce back and play better next week. We’ve got another home game next week so we’ve got that opportunity to play well. So we’ve got to flush it quick and we will.

“The leaders on this team, we’ve been talking, we are made of the right stuff. You got to handle a little adversity along the way and that’s what this is.”

The Jaguars did that last season, going 7-2 in the final nine games — which included a five-game winning streak to end the regular season after a 40-14 loss at Detroit. They also bounced back from back-to-back losses to Kansas City and Houston in Weeks 2 and 3 to win five consecutive games — including two in London — heading into Sunday’s game against San Francisco.

“Our back’s against the wall — we fight,” Oluokun said. “That’s not the kind of football team we want to be right there [vs. San Francisco]. We’ve got to start fighting and we’ve got to start working.

“We will be better.”

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