The San Francisco 49ers are off to a hot start after winning back-to-back games on the road to open the season, beginning to establish their identity in the league as a team you do not want to play.
Since 2005, the Philadelphia Eagles have absolutely had the 49ers’ number, with the Eagles having won two in a row and seven of the last nine meetings between the two teams heading into Sunday’s matchup.
The Eagles entered the game coming off of an impressive if not unexpected thrashing of the Falcons 32-6 in Week 1, holding Atlanta to just 4.1 yards per play in their season opener. The Eagles have emerged this season as a team not too dissimilar from the 49ers, boasting a bend-not-break defense and strong front five on the offensive line that makes you earn every inch, and San Francisco looked up for the challenge.
49ers Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo took every snap this week from under center, and despite a convincing performance against the Lions just a week prior where he seemed to elevate his game to a new level, the Niners starting QB looked pedestrian at times in the first half, missing wide open receivers down field.
It was tough for the 49ers to get anything going in this one, as the stingy Eagles defense held the Niners to three straight three-and-out possessions to start the game.
However, a blocked field goal early in the second quarter by Javon Kinlaw followed by a goal line stand that forced the Eagles to turn the ball over on downs on their next possession helped the 49ers establish some momentum. On the next series for the Niners, after driving 86 yards downfield, Garoppolo found Jauan Jennings in the end zone for his first ever NFL catch with 12 seconds left to play in the first half and the 49ers took a four-point lead into the break.
“For it to be 7-3 at halftime was pretty unbelievable,” head coach Kyle Shanahan in his postgame press conference.
Garoppolo did his best to make it hard on the opposing defense with his feet Sunday, with four of his five rushing attempts coming in the second half, one of which led to a touchdown to begin the fourth quarter.
The 49ers defense continued to stymie the mobile Eagles QB Jalen Hurts in the second half, forcing Philly to punt on three straight drives before finally allowing them in the end zone with very little time to play in the fourth quarter.
By that point, however, the damage was done.
Garoppolo finished 22 of 30 for 189 yards with one throwing TD and one rushing touchdown and a passer rating just above 100.
Trey Lance, who was taken third overall in this year’s draft, got some red-zone looks last week and threw his first career TD pass against the Lions. However Kyle Shanahan did not use Lance in a single snap Sunday, despite a few goal-line appearances for the Niners and a handful of errant throws from Garoppolo in the first half.
“It is what it is, that whole thing,” Garoppolo told the media after the game, speaking on the situation between him and Lance. “You can’t worry about that too much, I’m thinking about so many different things out there.”
“It’s one of those things that you can only control what you can control,” he continued. “It’s a football game, you got a lot of things going on in your mind.”
DT Javon Kinlaw got his first start of the season after returning from his own injury woes and was credited with the blocked field goal that helped to hamper any Philadelphia momentum that was building early in the second quarter.
Javon Kinlaw thinks the Eagles "folded" in today's game 👀 pic.twitter.com/zdupvN3gN7— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) September 19, 2021
The 49ers defensive unit held tough all afternoon, and while they are not performing to the standard they have set for themselves, with a few plays yesterday they’d like to have back, the defense is still getting things done at a very high level.
Nick Bosa led the way with two sacks and a tackle for loss as he continues to get back to the intensity he was playing at before tearing his ACL nearly a year ago to the day. The 49ers defensive end was happy with his performance after the game, telling reporters, “I definitely feel good, I think I’m moving well.”
“We did an amazing job just sticking with it and not giving up easy points,” Bosa continued. “In a game like that, it’s huge, and it was the difference.”
After two gritty wins to open up the 2021-22 NFL Season, the San Francisco 49ers will host the Green Bay Packers in their home opener Sunday night at 5:20 PM PT.
Top Image: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images