LAST MEETING: The 49ers, starting six rookies, managed just 217 yards of total offense in a 10-9 loss in Jacksonville, Fla. Running back Frank Gore gained 79 yards on 19 carries, but Alex Smith completed just 8 of 24 passes for 123 yards, as the 49ers were held to three Joe Nedney field goals.
JAGUARS: CB Rashean Mathis (groin) is out; RB Maurice Jones-Drew (knee), WR Mike Sims-Walker (knee) are probable.
49ERS: CB Nate Clements (shoulder), T Joe Staley (knee) are out; WR Isaac Bruce (ankle), RB Michael Robinson (shoulder) are doubtful; LB Takeo Spikes (hamstring), WR Arnaz Battle (ankle) are questionable; WR Brandon Jones (thumb), G David Baas (ankle), CB Tarell Brown (knee), CB Marcus Hudson (back), S Michael Lewis (quadricep), S Reggie Smith (abdomen), T Adam Snyder (shoulder), S Curtis Taylor (knee), LB Patrick Willis (shoulder) are probable.
JAGUARS (6-4): Jacksonville has struggled against the NFC West this season. The Jaguars lost to the Arizona Cardinals (31-17) and the Seattle Seahawks (41-0) and only managed to defeat the St. Louis Rams in overtime (23-20). But the Jaguars are in position to battle for a spot in the AFC playoffs with six games remaining. Running back Jones-Drew makes the team go.
Jacksonville owns the league?s sixth-ranked ground attack. Jones-Drew has rushed for 926 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has also caught 36 passes for 238 yards. Quarterback David Garrard has proved to be a good game manager. In 10 starts, he has thrown eight touchdowns but he also has been intercepted just six times. Garrard?s favorite target is third-year player Mike Sims-Walker, who has 47 receptions for 694 yards and six touchdowns.
49ERS (4-6): Time is running out on the 49ers in their quest to return to the NFC playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season. The 49ers have lost five of their past six games, but might have to run the table with victories over Jacksonville, Seattle, Arizona, Philadelphia, Detroit and St. Louis to close out the season to assure themselves a spot in the playoffs. Quarterback Alex Smith has shown signs of progress but he has yet to put together a complete game. The 49ers have issues in pass defense, too. Detroit and Tennessee are the only teams in the league that have surrendered more passing yards per game than the 49ers.
Coach Mike Singletary benched cornerback Tarell Brown for today?s game and replaced him with veteran Dre? Bly.
JAGUARS WILL WIN IF . . .
their defensive front wins the battle against the 49ers? offensive line.
49ERS WILL WIN IF . . .
the run defense puts the clamps on Jones-Drew, and they find a way to defend screen passes.
QUOTE TO NOTE
?The quarterback play has been very good and at times it has even titled toward being outstanding.? - 49ers? offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye on Smith?s play through 4? games.
LB Patrick Willis vs. RB Jones-Drew
Willis is one of the few 49ers who has the speed to run with Jones-Drew. Willis must keep Jones-Drew?s big plays to a minimum.
WR Michael Crabtree vs. CB Tyron Brackenridge
Crabtree is the 49ers? No. 1 wideout. Brackenridge starts his second game in place of injured Rashean Mathis. He surrendered a 97-yard TD last week to Buffalo?s Terrell Owens.