It was a gritty win for the 49ers. After the Eagles had them on the ropes for the first 25 minutes of the game, Jimmy Garoppolo led a 12-play, 97-yard touchdown drive, which gave the team an astonishing halftime lead. Astonishing because up until that point, the team could get absolutely nothing going offensively. That drive came on the heels of a tremendous goal-to-go fourth-down stop by DeMeco Ryans’ impressive unit.
Unlike the offense, the defense came out ready to rock and roll in the City of Brotherly Love. Jalen Hurts completed only 52 percent of his passes (12 of 23), and Eagles’ running backs averaged only 3.6 yards per carry (69 yards on 19 attempts). Compared to last week, where Lions’ running back averaged 4.65 yards per carry (93 yards on 20 attempts), the run defense improved noticeably.
Improvement will play a huge factor in whether or not the 49ers can parlay this 2-0 start into establishing themselves as a top dog in the NFC. There were a handful of tremendous performances against the Eagles, as well as a few poor performances that need to be acknowledged and improved upon in the coming weeks.
Here are the Week 2 studs and duds:
Bosa looks like his 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year-award-winning self. After picking up a sack last week against the Lions, Bosa doubled up and picked up two more against the Eagles. One of the two sacks was a strip-sack on Hurts which, luckily for the Eagles, bounced right up into their tight end’s hands. Bosa continues to have a major impact on both pass and run plays.
Welcome back, Nick.
Ryans had his hands full this week going up against an Eagles team that scored 32 points the week prior. What stood out most about Ryans’ play-calling was that he did a great job preparing for Hurts and minimizing the big play. Over the years, the 49ers have struggled against mobile quarterbacks (which most teams do), but it was a different story Sunday. The Eagles averaged 6 yards per play (328 total yards on 55 plays), but 91 of it came on a single hook-up between Hurts and Quez Watkins. Removing that play from the defensive stat sheet, the 49ers defense gave up 4.3 yards per play.
Ryans’ defensive coordinator career is off to a promising start.
Lenoir was terrific on Sunday. He was responsible for the 91-yard gain to Watkins but appeared to stumble when he changed his speed to keep up with the receiver while the ball was in the air. Outside of that one mishap, Lenoir was blanketing the Eagles’ receivers all game.
He had a pass breakup on DeVonta Smith deep down-field and forced Jalen Reagor to step out of bounds on his go route for what otherwise would have been a touchdown.
With the injuries the 49ers have endured at the cornerback position already this season, Lenoir may just be the saving grace.
Samuel was the best player on offense for the second consecutive week. After posting a receiving stat line of 9-181-1 (receptions-yards-touchdowns) against the Lions, Samuel racked up 93 yards on six catches against the Eagles. Where would the 49ers’ offense be without him? I don’t think anyone wants to know.
Maybe Wishnowky was worth the fourth-round draft selection after all (kidding). On a serious note, he had one of, if not his best, day punting the football in four years as a 49er. He had three punts land inside the 20, two of which were downed at the seven and three-yard lines.
The Eagles have a strong defensive line, which was on display early on. Give the 49ers offensive line credit for regrouping and keeping Garoppolo clean for the vast majority of the day. Garoppolo has only been sacked once in eight quarters of football.
Aaron Banks, Trey Sermon, and Ambry Thomas:
Banks was inactive for the second straight week. Sermon was in uniform for the first time this season and didn’t touch the ball until five minutes left in the 4th quarter. On his one touch, he suffered a brutal hit that appeared to knock him out—prayers up for Sermon. Thomas was inactive after his abysmal performance as a kick returner last week.
Is it time to worry about Banks, Sermon, and Thomas? I think it’s reasonable to be concerned. The 49ers are getting no positive contributions from three top-102 picks. Not good.
Kyle Shanahan’s situational play-calling
Garoppolo, Samuel, and Jauan Jennings saved Shanahan from a ton of criticism. It appeared Shanahan was more than content to settle for a field goal during the 12-play touchdown drive before halftime, as he allowed a ton of time to run off the clock instead of calling timeouts. It was frustrating to watch. It was reminiscent of how the 49ers approached the two-minute drill against the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. Shanahan was bailed out and got away with poor clock management, but this certainly needs to be acknowledged.
Unfortunately for Shanahan, it doesn’t end there. With the 49ers up 14-3, he struggled once again to put an opponent away while up double-digits. The particular sequence I’m talking about is when he called three consecutive runs for Trent Cannon, Mitchell, and Mitchell again. This occurred when the team had the ball at the Eagles’ 35-yard line and five minutes left. The last run to Mitchell was frustrating because the entire world knew what was coming. A 3rd and three run up the middle that would get stuffed. The Eagles had no timeouts left at this point, and the 49ers could’ve chewed up more clock had they converted. Instead, Robbie Gould kicked a field goal, keeping it a two-score game.
Afterward, the Eagles scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion, making it a close game.
Shanahan will need to improve his put-away play-calling as the games become more critical and the opposing teams become of higher quality.
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