Kyle Shanahan has a good reason to be proud of Jauan Jennings in the 49ers' win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Early in the second quarter, in a third-and-2 situation, Deebo Samuel carried the ball to the left side of the field, but what was happening on the right side got the attention of the officials. Jaguars safety Rayshawn Jenkins and Jennings had gotten into a wrestling match as the play unfolded.
Jennings, who is known for being an enthusiastic blocker, had clearly gotten under the skin of Jenkins, who pushed the receiver towards the ground where his helmet was eventually pulled off of his head.
Jennings bounced up and the jawing back and forth continued until Jenkins slapped/punched the 49ers receiver in the face. Officials and teammates immediately separated the two players and the Jaguars' safety was subsequently ejected from the game.
“I was just proud of him for doing that and getting us a very important 15-yard penalty because we had just got stopped on third-and-3 on the jet sweep,” Shanahan said on Monday. “I just told him great job, now put your helmet on, which it took him too long to hear put your helmet on.”
Shanahan was pleased that the situation did not end in a similar situation to their Week 5 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals, where Josh Norman was penalized for taunting after getting into an argument with head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Norman’s actions offset a penalty that would have given the 49ers a much-needed third-down stop.
Jennings kept his cool and did not retaliate against the Jaguars' safety and the penalty netted the 49ers a first down and kept the drive alive. Five plays later, Robbie Gould’s field goal stretched the 49ers' lead to 17-0.
“I thought from what I saw, he was competing as hard as you can compete on a run play and just playing through the whistle,” Shanahan said. “Obviously, the other guy got upset with him and did some things to Jauan that I was a little worried about,
"Jauan gets very excited and I was just proud of him that he was able to keep his composure, especially after he got hit in the face with this helmet off. So it was a huge play by him and it was twice there in the red zone that he led to us getting first downs.”
Jennings also recovered a fumble early midway through the 49ers' opening drive. Jeff Wilson lost the ball on a carry near the left sideline and Jennings quickly jumped on top of it, keeping the 20-play drive alive and setting the tone for the game.
While Jennings only has five receptions on nine targets for 38 yards and a touchdown this season, what he does when the ball isn’t in his hands has been monumental for the team.