The San Francisco 49ers head home from their 10-day road trip at 2-0, after beating the Philadelphia Eagles, 17-11, in a win that they called “grimy” and a game that showed their “resilience.” Last week, the 49ers got off to a fast start and took their collective foot off the gas. This year, they started on the brakes and picked up steam. Do those analogies go together? Who knows, but we’re keeping them.
“I’m so proud of the guys on that win,” said 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan. “That was a grimy game. That was hard work and everything. I think we had about 300 yards of offense and I think every one was tough to earn. I think we rushed three and a half to four [yards] per carry but you have 38 runs. It shows how hard the guys are working. That’s a whole team stat that I always look at. You have to play good on special teams, you have to play good on defense. You have to move the chains enough to keep getting 38 runs when you’re not really getting the explosives that we’re always hoping for. I was really pumped for the team there.”
At the end of the first quarter, San Francisco’s time of possession was 4:00, while Philadelphia’s was 11:00. San Francisco was 0-for-3 on third down, while Philadelphia was 4-of-6. It looked like it was going to be a long day for the 49ers offense, but defense and special teams helped them get their groove back.
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) September 19, 2021
“It was complementary football,” quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. “The defense had a huge goal line stand. We get the ball, come down, drive it down, and get a little score right before half time. The momentum was with us and I think that’s when our team as a whole played our best, when we can complement each other. Defense steps up, special teams steps up, offense steps up when we are rolling like that is when we get into our rhythm. That is when we are playing at our best.”
Early in the second quarter, DT Javon Kinlaw blocked a field goal and on their next defensive series, the 49ers stopped the Eagles on 4th and 3. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo took that opportunity to lead the 49ers on a 97-yard touchdown drive that culminated with wide receiver Jauan Jennings’ first NFL catch and first NFL touchdown. The 49ers went into the half up, 7-3, and never trailed again.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) September 19, 2021
Garoppolo is an elite quarterback sneaker, which was on display Sunday, as he rushed for 20 yards and a touchdown.
“He gives me a lot of confidence in those,” Shanahan said. “He’s never been stopped on one. I think the only time he did was when he false-started. I think he was 11-for-11 before today. I’ve been around him long enough. Jimmy is really good at that stuff. He’s real competitive. I mean he made a hell of a play, I want to say it was 3rd-and-2 where we didn’t get the guys open, and he ran around and ran to move the chains…Jimmy is a football player.”
There’s an art to a good QB sneak, but center Alex Mack isn’t talking.
“I will not tell you [the keys to a successful quarterback sneak] in case we have to do it again,” said Mack after the game. Fair.
In the air, after a up-and-down start, Garoppolo was 22-of-30 for 189 yards and the aforementioned touchdown pass.
“I didn’t see a ton of problems from him,” Shanahan said. “I thought there were a couple throws that were off. I can’t see all those screens so I don’t know if those were all bad throws or not. I still expect our guys to catch those…It’s tough to get past that front five. When you negate your run game like they did early it puts a lot of pressure on these guys. For them to go through that and not turn it over at all, just being patient and letting our defense settle down and not give up too many points. I thought it was a really, really good team victory.”
Aside from the 97-yard touchdown drive, San Francisco’s second was a 92-yarder that ended with Garoppolo’s one-yard TD run.
“I think that’s part of being a quarterback,” Garoppolo said. “You just have to want that in the moment. Usually it’s more a two-minute type of thing as a quarterback, but whether it’s a quarterback sneak or a two-minute drive at the end of the game, I want my number called. I know the guys are in it with me. In the huddle there at the end, it was a pretty cool moment, just looking each other in the eyes. We did it three times prior to that, and when you get the opportunity to close it out, it makes for a good ride home.”
Neither of the 49ers wins have been particularly pretty, but all that matters is the W and finding ways to win.
“That is the NFL for you, man,” Garoppolo said. “It is never going to be easy. Some weeks easier than others, but even last week it came down to the wire at one point. When you can win different ways like that, it makes for a good team. I have been around this league for a little while now, and teams that can win different ways, whether it’s offense, defense, special teams stepping up, that makes for a good team.”
Hello 2-0 #49ers
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) September 19, 2021
Speaking of special teams, from Mitch Wishnowsky’s punting performance to the blocked field goal, it is a huge part of why the 49ers are undefeated.
“…I have to give a shout out to our special teams,” said tight end George Kittle. “Mitch Wishnowsky with three punts inside the 20, two inside the 10, that’s pretty elite right there, he was incredible. I know our gunners played well. We had a guy we signed this week who had a tackle inside the 20 on a kickoff that just got our guys going. And then Javon Kinlaw had a blocked field goal. We had zero turnovers on the day and then he has that which is the big change in the game. So our Special Teams shoutout to Coach [Richard] Hightower for just keeping those boys prepped because that was huge for us. That was a game-changer.”
- LB Fred Warner had seven total tackles, five solo tackles and one tackle for loss.
- Nick Bosa had two sacks on Eagles’ quarterback Jalen Hurts, giving him three on the season thus far. “Everybody has a job and when you do your job everything should be covered up,” Bosa said. “We did an amazing job on just sticking with it and not giving up easy points there. In a game like that it’s huge and that was the difference.”
- Despite getting beat on a 91-yard throw from Hurts to Quez Watkins, rookie cornerback Deommodore Lenoir had a strong game and continues to look like he just might be a fifth-round gem, as he started in place of the injured Jason Verrett. “I think that’s what I personally like about [Deommodore] the most,” Shanahan said. “He seems the same every time. It’s tough in the sleeve when you give up a go-route, but he didn’t just change and play 100 yards off the rest of the game either. He still was competitive. He still challenged the guys at the line. He must have made a couple adjustments because I feel like they didn’t get him again.” Lenoir had three passes defended, five total tackles and four solo tackles.
From Detroit to the Greenbrier in West Virginia to Philadelphia, the undefeated 49ers have been on the road a long time. Now they head back to Santa Clara to prepare to host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football in Week Three.
- “DL Kevin Givens left the game with an ankle injury
- RB Elijah Mitchell left with a shoulder injury but did return to the game. Shanahan said they are hoping it’s just a stinger.
- RB] JaMycal Hasty left with an ankle injury.
- RB Trey Sermon suffered a concussion.