PHILADELPHIA — Three quick thoughts from the Eagles’ 33–10 victory over the 49ers.
1. With 11:02 to go in the third quarter, Cason Wentz took a shotgun snap on a second-and-eight, and took five quick shuffle steps backward as he waited for running back Wendell Smallwood to gain enough space to receive a screen pass. During that time, a surprise cornerback blitz from Leon Hall engaged right tackle Lane Johnson, which, in turn, created a mammoth gap two yards wide for 49ers linebacker Brock Coyle to blitz through. Wentz eventually flung the ball to safety but was already in Coyle’s grasp. As his body neared the ground, Wentz’s helmet bounced hard off the turf, eliciting a gasp from several Eagles fans still dialed into the 17–0 score. That was the sixth of seven quarterback hits Wentz took on Sunday in the victory—a preview of what life will be like for the long haul without tackle Jason Peters.
While San Francisco’s ineffective offense kept them from making this a serious game, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh made this win annoying enough for the young star quarterback. Shifting Coyle, Hall, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas was enough to make his 32 dropbacks an unexpectedly miserable experience. Wentz was hit 18 times over his first two weeks before settling into a mid-season swoon where he was only hit 30 times over the course of five weeks. Could this be a return to the struggle?
2. Around that same time, 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard received a bulky rain-resistant jacket en route to the bench between series. On his last three-play drive alone, he had sustained his fifth hit of the afternoon. He watched as Eagles defensive tackle Tim Jernigan switched gaps before a handoff to Carlos Hyde (Hyde was pounced on two yards behind the line), essentially confirming that the league’s best defense was on to him.
This was an ugly afternoon for quarterbacks, but especially Beathard, who hasn’t developed the delicate and efficient slide into his repertoire yet. Multiple times on Sunday, Beathard was shoved, elbowed or thrown to the turf during scrambles. On one hand, give the 49ers credit for being patient with this exercise—to find out if Beathard can contribute meaningfully at all beyond this season when his franchise will likely be in possession of a very high draft pick. On the other hand, Beathard needs some help out there, and it’s difficult to watch a QB get tossed into the fire like this.
3. The Eagles have one team left—the uneven Denver Broncos—at home before a bye. Imagine this town if Carson Wentz and the Eagles head into the break at 8–1? This has always been a loyal market, but that was particularly on display Sunday afternoon amid a downpour, which began well before kickoff, and increased in strength during the first half. A quick scan at the crowd midway through the fourth quarter of this ho-hum affair showed that almost no one had gone home. It’s always sunny in Wentzylvania, it seems (Sorry, bad joke).