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5 Players to Watch in the 49ers Week 11 game vs Jacksonville

It will be interesting to see the 49ers’ running back usage on Sunday.

The San Francisco 49ers (4-5) successfully rebounded from a bad loss to the Arizona Cardinals (8-2) with a commanding victory over the division-rival Los Angeles Rams (7-3) on Monday Night Football. 

They’ll look to get back to .500 after a short week with a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7) in Florida. 

Here are Five Players to Watch: 

Jamal Agnew, Wide Receiver, #39 — Jacksonville Jaguars 

The Jaguars entered the season with Marvin Jones Jr., D.J. Chark Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr. as their top three receivers. 

Chark (ankle) is on injured reserve. This has allowed defenses to key on Jones, who has less than 40 receiving yards in each of his past three games. 

Shenault was a popular breakout candidate due to his exceptional athleticism and versatility, but he has 62 total yards during his past three games. 

One player Jacksonville has relied on to make plays is Jamal Agnew. The former San Diego Torero has 320 yards, 15 first downs and two touchdowns on 27 touches. That’s 11.85 yards per touch. 

Agnew lines up in the slot 65 percent of snaps (per PlayerProfiler). 

Last week, Los Angeles slot receiver Cooper Kupp (the NFL’s leading receiver) had 122 yards on 11 catches, but Agnew poses a much different matchup for nickel K’Waun Williams. 

Agnew is not a volume playmaker. He’s a big-play threat (4.34 speed) who lines up in different spots to catch the defense in a mismatch. The 49ers must keep track of the elusive Agnew. 

Shaquill Griffin, Cornerback, #26 — Jacksonville Jaguars 

Cornerback Shaquill Griffin is having a decent debut season for Jacksonville (72.5 PFF grade). 

While he adapts to the AFC South, Griffin’s biggest test is a familiar one: San Francisco receiver Deebo Samuel. 

Samuel is second in the NFL with 979 receiving yards. He leads the 49ers with 54 receptions and seven total touchdowns. In the 49ers’ win over Los Angeles, he had two touchdowns and 133 all-purpose yards. 

Although Samuel is a matchup nightmare through the air, he also remains a key part of the 49ers ground game. He ran for 36 yards and a touchdown on five carries last week. 

Griffin won’t be able to prevent the designed Samuel touches behind the line of scrimmage, but he can limit the YAC with sure-tackling. He has three missed tackles on 35 attempts this season (7.9 percent per Pro Football Reference). 

San Francisco’s offense is at its best when head coach Kyle Shanahan establishes the run and sticks to it. 

Samuel needs manufactured touches to loosen the defense, similarly to how Seattle fed speedster Tyler Lockett for 12 catches and 142 yards against Jacksonville in Week 8. 

Jeff Wilson Jr., Running Back, #22 — San Francisco 49ers 

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For a team that is often trailing in the fourth quarter, the Jaguars have a strong run defense. They’ve allowed the ninth fewest rushing yards (954) in the NFL and just 3.9 yards per carry, which is fifth best. 

It will be interesting to see the 49ers’ running back usage on Sunday. 

San Francisco is likely down starter Elijah Mitchell (rib, finger) and for sure without third-down back JaMycal Hasty (ankle). This thrusts Jeff Wilson Jr. into an elevated role with underperforming rookie Trey Sermon and special teamer Trenton Cannon serving as his complements. 

Wilson is a very talented running back who fits what the 49ers want to do offensively. 

He has six career games of 15 or more carries, but is still rather fresh off his preseason injury. He also exited two of his five career starts early (Dec. 12, 2018 and Oct. 25, 2020). 

Shanahan must keep Wilson healthy in order to move the chains or put quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in favorable third-and-short throwing situations. 

The 49ers do not want a game where Garoppolo has to throw 25 times. If the 49ers can run the ball, like they did on Monday, this game should be a lock. 

If Wilson and co. struggle with the increased touches, it will be interesting to see how Garoppolo fairs in a battle of arms. 

Azeez Al-Shaair, Linebacker, #51 — San Francisco 49ers 

After getting gashed in the run game for three straight weeks, the 49ers took advantage of an early lead and a limited Darrell Henderson, holding the Rams to 52 rushing yards. 

The Jaguars have the sixth fewest rushing attempts this season, but need to unleash running back James Robinson if they’re to pull off the upset. Despite battling a heel injury, Robinson is too good to not be heavily involved. 

When not trying to stop the run, linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair will be tasked with limiting quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s new favorite target, tight end Dan Arnold. 

He has at least 60 receiving yards and four catches in four of his last five games since coming over in the C.J. Henderson trade, with 63 percent of his catches going for first downs. 

The tight end is mostly used as a quick option. His average depth of target is a career-low 6.0 yards. Expect a lot of Al-Shaair vs Arnold. 

Josh Norman, Cornerback, #26 — San Francisco 49ers 

Facing a young quarterback who is often relied on to make plays for a trailing team (Lawrence) should be a favorable advantage to an experienced, all-or-nothing corner like Josh Norman. 

Norman knows how to bait young quarterbacks to get a pick, but is also likely to get burned for a touchdown. 

However, as stated above, the Jaguars are without Chark, their best deep threat. This sets up a veteran battle between Jones and Norman. 

If the 49ers get out to a hot start like they did last week, Lawrence would need to play catch-up, without having the necessary weapons. 

Norman is in line for a pick on an overthrown 10-yard curl. 

Follow me on Twitter @Mavpallack