SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The Jacksonville Jaguars took a stunning 44-33 loss to the San Francisco 49ers and red-hot quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium but still locked up the AFC South crown.
The Jaguars (10-5) clinched their first-ever AFC South crown with around six minutes left in the first quarter when the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans 27-23. The division title is their first since 1999, when they won the AFC Central.
Jacksonville will host a playoff game for the first time since 2000, and it still has a chance of earning a first-round bye.
“Any time we lose, especially the way we’ve been playing, it’s tough,” Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles said. “But it’s also kind of in the back of your head that we won the (South), the first time in Jacksonville Jaguars history. So that’s pretty cool, but I don’t think anybody’s happy with what went on today. We wanted to win the division by winning today. We weren’t able to do that, so that’s tough.”
Garoppolo threw for 242 yards and two touchdowns, leading the 49ers (5-10) to their fourth consecutive victory. He threw one interception.
The Jaguars, who entered the game allowing an NFL-low 14.9 points per game, gave up a season-high 44 to San Francisco.
The 49ers set a season high for points scored.
“That was a hell of a team we just beat, so I think that was a good test for us,” Garoppolo said. “It was a heck of a game. A lot of emotions on the sideline, ups and downs. Just proud of the way we kept fighting as a team. We knew it was going to be a dog fight. That was a good team. I was proud of how we came out of it.”
Bortles completed 32 of 50 passes for 382 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions, including a 50-yard pick-six by 49ers cornerback Dontae Johnson.
Cornerbacks K’Waun Williams and Ahkello Witherspoon also had interceptions for the 49ers, who are 4-0 since Garoppolo became the starter.
Garoppolo completed 21 of 30 passes with touchdowns to wide receiver Trent Taylor and tight end George Kittle. He was picked off once.
“He’s very good for their system,” Jaguars Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey said. “It’s not like he just shredded us up in the secondary. They do a lot of boots. They did a lot of stuff like that where it was just kind of guys were getting open in zones and he was making his throws, getting the ball out of his hands quick. Like I said, kudos to him.”
Jacksonville, which trailed 16-0 early in the second quarter, took its first and only lead of the game at 19-16 on Josh Lambo’s 45-yard field goal with 10:57 left in the third quarter.
The 49ers scored the next 21 points to take control.
“We said we were going to win it today,” Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith said. “We just didn’t win it the way we wanted to today. It’s solid. Division champs took an ‘L’ today. Going to keep going, though. We earned the title and going to keep battling.”
The Jaguars’ next drive after the went in front ended when Williams made a leaping, one-handed interception of a Bortles pass and returned it 27 yards to the Jacksonville 26.
Five plays later, Garoppolo hit Kittle over the middle with an 8-yard touchdown pass, giving the 49ers a 23-19 lead with 6:46 left in the third.
The 49ers extended their lead to 30-19 with 10:39 left to play on Garoppolo’s 5-yard TD pass to Taylor, a sidearm thrown under pressure while scrambling to his left.
“The guy was in front, of me so I had to throw it around him,” Garoppolo said. “Playing baseball paid off I guess today.”
Witherspoon set up San Francisco’s next touchdown with an interception and 23-yard return to the Jacksonville 18. Three plays later, Carlos Hyde scored on a 6-yard run, making it 37-19 with 8:59 left.
Jacksonville cut the deficit to 37-27 on T.J. Yeldon’s 1-yard touchdown run and Bortles’ two-point pass to Ben Koyack with 2:17 left.
Jacksonville linebacker Lerentee McCray recovered an onside kick, and Bortles threw an 11-yard TD pass to James O’Shaughnessy with 1:50 left, but Lambo missed the PAT, leaving the 49ers’ lead at 37-33.
Lambo’s onside kick went out of bounds, and the 49ers took over at their 49 with 1:49 left. San Francisco running back Matt Breida scored on a 30-yard run with 1:24 to go.
The Jaguars were penalized 12 times for 99 yards and often paid a price for their frustration.
“They were very chippy out there, yelling at each other, yelling at us,” San Francisco fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. “They were definitely a little frustrated. ... I don’t think they were used to a team moving the ball the way we did. We did a great job of not retaliating and just letting them talk and let them beat themselves. We came out on top because of it.”
NOTES: Jaguars WRs Allen Hurns (ankle) and Marqise Lee (ankle) were inactive. ... Jacksonville LT Cam Robinson (abdomen strain) left the game early in the second quarter and did not return. ... Jaguars OLB Blair Brown sustained a concussion in the second quarter and did not return. ... San Francisco FB Kyle Juszczyk had five catches for 76 yards, leading the team in both categories. ... Niners RB Matt Breida carried 11 times for 74 yards and one touchdown. ... Jaguars WR Keelan Cole caught six passes for 108 yards.