49ers cruise to Wembley victory
British NFL fans had better hope the Jacksonville Jaguars can show some marked improvement over the next three years if Sunday night's showing at Wembley was anything to go by.
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The Jaguars demonstrated all the flaws that have kept them winless through eight games this season as the suffered a 42-10 loss to last season's Super Bowl runners-up San Francisco, who are on a mission to go one better this year.
So bad are the Jaguars right now they are making Martin Jol's problems at Fulham - also owned by Shahid Khan - look minor.
They may be keen to establish strong links to London fans with games scheduled each season until 2016, but they will need to offer up better performances than this to win new supporters.
Four touchdowns in the first 23 minutes ended it as a contest as the 49ers ran amok.
By the time the night was over, quarterback Colin Kaepernick had thrown for 164 yards and one touchdown, scoring two others on the ground as he rushed for a further 54 yards, while star running back Frank Gore had 71 yards and two TDs.
San Francisco scored their first touchdown on their opening drive, Gore running the ball in from 19 yards a little more than three minutes into the contest.
Jacksonville appeared unable to apply any serious pressure to quarterback Kaepernick, who ran in the second touchdown by himself from 12 yards late in the first quarter, then tossed a pass to the giant tight end Vernon Davis for a third early in the second period.
Kaepernick was almost toying with Jacksonville as he ran in from nine yards for his second rushing touchdown, making it 28-0 with 7:49 to go in the second period.
All of this was greeted with plenty of cheers from the 83,559 Wembley crowd, which strongly favoured the 49ers.
The NFL wants Jacksonville to become London's team over the course of the next few years, and even had their star players doing their best impressions of cockney accents on the big screens throughout the game.
But pairing them against such popular teams - they will face the Dallas Cowboys here next year - makes it tough for them to enjoy proper 'home' support with opposition jerseys littering the stands.
Those that were rooting for Jacksonville - a growing number through the night as they got some sympathetic cheers from a handful in 49ers jerseys - were offered few signs of hope but they eventually found some momentum late in the first half, albeit in fortuitous circumstances.
Jordan Todman muffed a punt but in the ensuing chaos he scampered downfield for 40 yards, and as the Jaguars gradually established a foothold, they got off the mark with a Josh Scobee field goal from 38 yards with 15 seconds left in the half.
That momentum carried into the second half and culminated in a touchdown when Chad Penne found Mike Brown with a 29-yard pass late in the third period.
But the 49ers quickly responded with another rushing touchdown from Gore, and normal service was resumed when Dan Skuta scooped up a Marcedes Lewis fumble and returned it 47 yards for another score.
If the performance on the field was not everything it might have been, the NFL will toast another success off it, with a sell-out crowd filling Wembley just weeks after it played witness to Minnesota's victory over Pittsburgh - the first year of multiple NFL games in the capital.
The league has already confirmed Wembley will host three games next season as further strides are made towards a potential London franchise.