New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson seems to be among those who understand just how much of a challenge the San Francisco 49ers’ offense presents.
It’s due in large part to skill position players like running back Jerrick McKinnon, tight end George Kittle and receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. And while the 49ers likely won’t have playmaker Raheem Mostert on Sunday against the New England Patriots, it remains a group which can change the game with one snap.
“We just have to continue to do what we do as a team, especially as a defense. Just continue to play hard, don’t give up big plays, that’s what we do,” Jackson told reporters Wednesday during a video conference. “As a defense, that’s our number one rule. Don’t give up big plays.”
The 49ers have 19 big plays, which we categorized as passes or rushes more than 20 yards, in six games this season. Of them, San Francisco has touchdowns consisting of 80, 76, 44 and 38 yards, respectively.
While Mostert accounted for the two longest 49ers’ touchdowns this season, McKinnon showed big-play potential with a 55-yard run Week 2 against the New York Jets. With a deep San Francisco backfield McKinnon’s opportunities have been limited, but when he played a season-high 92% of offensive snaps Week 4 against the Philadelphia Eagles, he combined for 97 yards of offense with one touchdown.
Aiyuk has shown his ability all year, averaging 17.3 yards per rush and 11.8 yards per reception in five games. He has three touchdowns in the last four games. Samuel is returning to heath after a broke foot causes him to miss three games. He averages a first down (10.9 yards) for every reception while Kittle’s production (95 yards per game, two touchdowns) speaks for itself.
All told, Jackson knows it’s going to take another strong defensive effort.
“I mean that’s why it’s good to watch film and you prepare the right way in practice,” the cornerback said. “(On-field communication) plays a huge role in knowing what’s coming and what to expect.”
The 2-3 Patriots are set to host the 3-3 49ers at Gillette Stadium on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET.