The Jacksonville Jaguars went 6-2 in the first eight weeks of the 2023 season. However, it's not how you start but how you finish in the NFL, which is why they're not resting on their laurels coming off their BYE. They'll next face a San Francisco 49ers team that's looking to get back into the win column after losing three in a row. Head coach Doug Pederson, for once, is making sure the team isn't caught off guard.
Pederson told the media that he doesn't necessarily see the Niners as a measuring stick but the Jaguars must be prepared no matter what.
"I don't think it's a measuring stick," Pederson said. "You're playing a great football team, and we've played some really good football teams already. Our guys have battled and hung in here. It's just gonna be another one of those physical hard games. It's one of 17 games against a top NFC opponent, obviously a playoff-caliber team that was in the Super Bowl a couple years ago."
So, is it a measuring stick? Could be, right? We haven't done anything yet. We're not there yet. Our guys have to have to prepare that way and be ready for a 60-minute game," Pederson said.
Even though they're in a funk the 49ers are still one of the top teams in the NFL and one Jacksonville cannot afford to take lightly. They have the pieces in place to bounce back. Not only is head coach Kyle Shanahan one of the best play-designers in the league but the offense is stacked with talent. Even if the Jags find a way to slow All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey down, they'll also have to deal with the wide receiver tandem of Brandon Aijuk and Deebo Samuel.
The same is true for a Niners' defense that's loaded with playmakers. The Jacksonville offensive line will have their hands full trying to contain the pass rush duo of Nick Bosa and the recently acquired Chase Young. Similarly, the Jags will need to account for All-Pro linebacker Fred Wagner on every play. Here's Doug Pederson's full exchange with the media.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a tough test vs. the San Francisco 49ers in Week 10
Even if head coach Doug Pederson doesn't want to categorize the 49ers game as a measuring stick, it will kind of be. After all, the Niners have been a perennial contender for a few years. Going against them will give the Jacksonville Jaguars an idea of where they stand at the midpoint of the season. A win would help them keep the Houston Texans at bay in the AFC South race. It would also help them solidify their spot as one of the best teams in the conference.
Working in the Jaguars' favor is that they were able to get healthy during the BYE. While wide receiver Zay Jones remains day-to-day, Walker Little, who's slated to start at guard, could return to the lineup. The same is true for cornerback Tyson Campbell and safety Andre Cisco. They've both missed time with hamstring injuries but could suit up against the Niners.
The bottom line is that the San Francisco 49ers may or may not be a measuring stick but the Jacksonville Jaguars must be ready for them when they welcome them in Week 10. A win would ensure they can keep up with other teams in the AFC arms race.