LONDON – The 49ers used powerful blocking, sound tackling and solid quarterback play to beat the Jaguars 42-10 on Sunday and increase their winning streak to five games.
But don't discount paranoia regarding the team's winning formula, players said afterward.
"We have the most paranoid staff in the National Football League," 49ers safety Donte Whitner said. "We go over things so many times that when you go in the game, you could do it in your sleep."
Left tackle Joe Staley agreed. "I think it's great to play never (feeling) comfortable," he said. "We always think about every worst-case scenario beforehand."
Consequently, neither jet lag nor the winless Jaguars distracted the 49ers in the run-up to the game. Not only have they bounced back from a two-game skid early in the season, they have scored 30 or more points in five straight contests.
Games in London have been marked by sloppy play because of wet weather, soggy field conditions and, in the case of West Coast teams, a difference of eight time zones. The 49ers, however, were sharp from the outset, driving eight plays – including a fourth-and-1 conversion – before Frank Gore burst through the belly of the Jacksonville defense for a 19-yard touchdown run.
"The players were dialed in, did a great job in practice and off the practice field in their free time," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "We were real good. Curfews were 100 percent each night. Good team."
In fact, the 49ers caught the Jaguars napping in the first quarter. Harbaugh said the team has a play called "big sleeper" in which a pass catcher pretends to jog to the sideline but instead lingers on the field hoping to go unnoticed by the defense. It nearly worked last year in Week 4 when Colin Kaepernick was the target, but the Jets called timeout just before the snap. Sunday, the Jaguars couldn't react in time. Kaepernick, playing quarterback this time, quickly approached the line of scrimmage then fired a pass to fullback Bruce Miller, who was hovering at the sideline.
"It's hard," Miller said of being wide open on the play. "Because I'm thinking, 'Don't jump offsides, don't drop the ball.' I was thinking, 'Catch it first, then get what you can get.' "
He gained 43 yards on the play, the longest of his career.
Harbaugh called the play "a Greg Roman creation." The 49ers' offensive coordinator played college football and roomed with Jaguars general manager David Caldwell at John Carroll University. When the Jaguars were looking for a head coach this offseason, Roman – whose 49ers were playing until early February – wasn't interviewed.
Roman's offense racked up 398 yards, including 221 on the ground, on Sunday. Three players – Kendall Hunter, Gore and Kaepernick – finished with more than 50 rushing yards. Kaepernick, who scored his first rushing touchdown of the season last week against Tennessee, had two more in the first half. He also had a nice, touch-pass touchdown to Vernon Davis from the 2-yard line.
"He looked much like a running back," Harbaugh said of Kaepernick's first touchdown run, a 12-yarder on which he got key blocks from Gore and Staley and dived toward the pylon.
"That's great courage," Harbaugh said. "You don't always see that in the quarterback position. As soon as he saw that window, he had great dart and speed to get the ball in the end zone."
At 6-2, the 49ers have nicely set themselves up for second half of the season, in which they will face just three teams with winning records (Carolina, New Orleans and Seattle). But first they had to get past a Jaguars squad that the 49ers knew would be hungry for their first victory.
"We understand it," said Willis, whose team was 1-6 when it played in London three years ago. "We were once the team that was struggling to get wins. We've been there. But we also enjoy and are thankful to be where we are now. And we don't want to go back."
Read Matthew Barrows' blogs at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320.