Eagles Lose Game, Two Key Veterans, Against 49ers

The home opener was deflating, with a 17-11 loss, and also injuries to Brandon Graham and Brandon Brooks
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PHILADELPHIA – It was a triple-whammy for the Eagles on Sunday.

They lost their home opener, 17-11, to the San Francisco 49ers.

Though there were some positive signs in the loss, that’s the short-term pain.

The long-term pain could be that they will be without two key veteran players for the foreseeable future, perhaps for the entire season - right guard Brandon Brooks and defensive end Brandon Graham.

Graham’s injury was particularly noticeable.

With 1:51 to play until halftime, he had to be helped to his feet after being tended to for several minutes by the team’s trainers. He was unable to put any weight on his left leg.

The 12-year veteran was ruled out for the rest of the game with what was called an ankle injury, but it could very well be an Achilles, which would sideline the 33-year-old for the season.

Graham has been one of the Eagles’ healthiest players since 2015. He played all 16 games in four of the previous five seasons.

The only game he missed in that span was the team’s meaningless regular-season finale against the Cowboys prior to the team’s Super Bowl run.

Brooks, on the other hand, hasn’t been able to stay healthy the past few years, though he played all 16 games in for three straight seasons, from 2017-19.

He missed all of last season, however, after tearing an Achilles during a summer workout and the 32-year-old has undergone surgeries in each of the past three years, twice for an Achilles, the other time for a shoulder.

Graham’s injury opened the door for more playing time for rookie Tarron Jackson, who had a hard time finding much success against 49ers left tackle Trent Williams.

Veteran Ryan Kerrigan also saw an increase in playing time but did not seem to contribute much, as the defense failed to register a sack.

There were, however, some encouraging signs from an Eagles team that had a lot of good vibes surrounding it coming off a blowout win of the Atlanta Falcons last week. This was a step up in competition against a Niners team that could challenge for a trip to the Super Bowl.

They fell behind 17-3 but didn’t roll over, getting a 1-yard TD from Jalen Hurts with 4:02 to play and a Kenny Gainwell PAT run to make the score 17-11.

The defense, though, could not get the ball back, surrendering a third-and-one sneak that sealed the outcome with the Eagles out of timeouts.

The Eagles ran for 151 yards, a lot of that from Jalen Hurts who ran 10 times for 82 yards while throwing for 190 yards, completing 12 of 23 throws.

The defense held tight end George Kittle in check, allowing him just four catches for 17 yards.

The Eagles’ offense controlled the first half but had a 36-yard touchdown was overturned when it was ruled that Jalen Reagor stepped out of bounds during his pattern, and a 91-yard reception from Quez Watkins to the 49ers’ 6-yard line resulted in no points.

After Reagor’s TD was overturned, the Eagles eventually tried a 47-yard field goal to build on a 3-0 lead they took in the first quarter on a 45-yard Elliott field goal, but Javon Kinlaw blocked it.

As for the Watkins play, it was the fifth-longest passing play in team history, with Jalen Hurts throwing the ball about 50 yards in the air from out of his own end zone.

Eventually, the Eagles made it to first-and-goal at the 1 but could not crack the end zone.

On first down, Hurts rolled right and threw incomplete.

On second down, Miles Sanders lost three yards on a run.

On third down, Hurts ran for a yard.

On fourth down, the Eagles tried some trickery, with Hurts handing off to DeVonta Smith who flipped to Greg Ward coming the other way. Ward, a former college quarterback, looked like he wanted to throw back to Hurts, but the Niners did not bite.

San Francisco’s offense then embarked on a 12-play march that traveled 97 yards in 4:08 to take a 7-3 halftime lead on an 11-yard touchdown throw from Jimmy Garoppolo to Jauan Jennings

Now 1-1, the Eagles will head to Dallas for a Monday night game. The 49ers are 2-0 after winning their first two games on the road.

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.