It was tough sledding for the 49ers in Philadelphia.
They got the win as they were expected to, but it easily could have slipped from their hands at any moment.
Here are five takeaways from the 49ers 17-11 Week 2 win against the Eagles.
Brandon Aiyuk is in the doghouse
Remember when Brandon Aiyuk's limited usage in Week 1 was due to his hamstring injury? Quite hilarious that was used an excuse. Aiyuk is in Kyle Shanahan's doghouse. There is no way around it. Aiyuk has been a full participant for two weeks straight now at practice. There are no setbacks or anything with his hamstring. And clearly he is healthy enough to be rolled out on gameday.
Aiyuk for the second consecutive game was limited to just roughly half of the offensive playing time. Two targets and one reception was his highlight reel. In a game where the 49ers offense was stagnate for a majority of the time, utilizing Aiyuk more would have benefitted the 49ers. Instead, Shanahan would rather make a point and win a game ugly. Who knows when Aiyuk will be featured heavily again?
George Kittle needs more involvement
George Kittle is starting to look like a highly paid offensive lineman who can go out on routes occasionally. That is all his usage has been through two games. He is not even being dialed up on routes that go anywhere 10 yards or more from the line of scrimmage. That isn't even because of Jimmy Garoppolo's limitations, because Shanahan used to call those beforehand. My suspicion is that Shanahan is trying not to expose Kittle so much. Kittle is a sneaky injury prone player.
The last thing Shanahan wants to do is lose him for a handful of games like the past two seasons. Still, Kittle is paid like a top dog and needs to be used like one. Just like with Aiyuk, underutilizing Kittle puts more strain on the offense. Four targets is not enough for this guy. He is one of the best tight ends in the game and needs to be relied upon as so. Not just as an offensive lineman. Get him the ball!
Josh Norman isn't half bad
Outside of his two pass interference calls, Josh Norman played relatively well. I would even argue that those interference calls should have been expected in his first game being played. It is not like this is the Norman of old where he can just roll out onto the field and instantly be solid. Clearly once the game went on he settled in and played well. I think the 49ers will be okay with Norman there.
Besides, he isn't going to anchor as the starter every game. Emmanuel Moseley will return eventually, probably this Sunday night, which will kick Norman back down. Either way, it was good to see he was capable in his role because Ambry Thomas is not polished enough to be trusted out there. Norman is definitely the best option to fill in going forward.
Running back is now scarce
It was one thing to lose Raheem Mostert for the season. The 49ers were capable of plugging that void he left. But how do you do that when the players behind him are sustaining injuries? Trey Sermon suffered a concussion, JaMycal Hasty has a high-ankle sprain and Elijah Mitchell hurt his shoulder. Only Mitchell's seems to be the most optimistic that he will be okay for Week 3. Now the 49ers run game is in danger of looking skittish.
Getting Shanahan's offense is not simple. A lot of discipline and patience is needed. The fact that Sermon fell behind Mitchell proves that talent is not enough. You need to be smart. The 49ers will have to rely on Kerryon Johnson now and any other running back that they could be signing in the coming days. It will be tough to overcome, but Shanahan knows how to create yards in the ground game.
49ers need more out of Jimmy Garoppolo
The impact that Garoppolo had against the Eagles was minimal. The 49ers need more out of him, especially with so many running backs being injured. The average depth of target for Garoppolo on Sunday was roughly 3 yards. That is poor to say the least. While a good part of that was due to the pressure and physicality of the Eagles defense, the 49ers cannot expect that again in Week 3.
Garoppolo will need to produce more and look the part like he did against the Lions. Green Bay will not just bow down on Sunday night. If the 49ers want to win, then Garoppolo will need to elevate a bit. The issue is that he looked good against the Lions because they are the Lions. Chances are he struggles against the Packers. Shanahan is going to have to put his thinking cap on to get his quarterback to feel good for this one.