That was one ugly football game and one ugly performance by the 2-2 San Francisco 49ers, who are now 0-2 at Levi’s Stadium after losing to the 1-2-1 Philadelphia Eagles, 25-20.
“It was on everybody,” San Francisco 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan said of the loss. “Some on the play calling. Some on [QB Nick Mullens]. Some on all of us. We have to play better all around.”
Once again, the 49ers blew a fourth-quarter lead – a three-point lead, but a lead nonetheless – which is becoming a habit they’re going to want to break, stat.
Here are Fangirl Takeaways on what happened and where the 49ers go from here.
Where to begin. Well, let’s start at quarterback, as that is where much of the blame lies. Nick Mullens did not have his best night, which is a really nice way to say that. He was 18-of-26 for 200 yards, a TD, two interceptions, a fumble and a passer rating of 72.6 (per PFF). The interceptions were bad, like really bad.
“The first one, he just missed the throw,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan. “He’s got to get it out there. Check it down to [FB Kyle Juszczyk] Juice beneath him. And then the one in the red zone, it wasn’t a good play call. No one was open. Had a short edge and he needed to throw it away or take a sack, but threw it into double coverage. Just a bad decision, but he had no other choice on the play. He had to just take it.”
Turns out Jimmy Garoppolo is pretty important to this team, huh?
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) October 5, 2020
Mullens could never find his groove and his night got off to an ominous start when he overthrew an easy pass to a wide-open Kyle Juszczyk who probably would have gone 88 yards for a touchdown, or at least gotten close. Instead, it was three-and-out and never got any better.
“I’m kind of wondering that myself,” said Mullens, on why he couldn’t get into a rhythm. “We had plenty of opportunities and I really just didn’t execute. I feel like the way I’m feeling is pretty black and white right now. I just didn’t execute and that’s really all it comes down to. Three turnovers, 14 points for them off turnovers and that’s really about it. Just didn’t execute.”
C.J. Beathard to the Rescue, Almost
C.J. Beathard replaced Mullens with 5:42 in the fourth quarter after that second interception, which became a pick-6. Though Beathard led a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, the 49ers could not complete the two-point conversion when tight end George Kittle, who had a monster night (more on that in a bit), dropped the intended pass in the end zone. It’s unclear as to why Beathard didn’t just run it in, but we are digressing.
“…Unfortunately, we just didn’t get it done so that’s not fun, Kittle said. “Two point conversion, faking the outside read, get back inside, C.J. came with the run and then threw it to me, just didn’t make it. Just bang, bang play and didn’t get it done.”
Clearly there is no quarterback controversy for QB1 but there might be one for QB2.
The 49ers had another chance with 1:40 left, but it was not to be. Game. Set. Match.
Offensive Line Woes
As poorly as Mullens played, his offensive line didn’t do him any favors. Left tackle Trent Williams had a terrible night in terms of pass protection. He was beaten for two sacks and had two penalties, a holding and a false start.
Mullens was sacked a total of four times and Beathard was sacked once.
Let’s Talk Defense
The banged-up 49ers defense played well enough to keep the 49ers in the game. Remember, 14 of the Eagles points came off turnovers.
Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz was 18-of-28 for 193 yards, one TD and one INT. He was sacked three times. However, he eluded 49ers’ defenders more than once with his legs, one time going in for a touchdown.
Arik Armstead had a night with five total tackles, 0.5 a sack, a tackle for loss and six quarterback hits. Per Pro Football Focus, Armstead played in 79% of defensive stats.
However, the 49ers did not escape without defensive injuries. Defensive lineman Ziggy Ansah left the game with a bicep injury and the fear is that it is a torn bicep.
#49ers pass-rusher Ziggy Ansah, declared out with an arm injury, is feared to have suffered a biceps tear, source said. He’ll have an MRI to confirm, but potentially another major injury to an SF defender on the edge.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 5, 2020
Nickel corner K’Waun Williams, who was questionable this week with a hip issue, left the game with a knee sprain and did not return.
Yes, there were a few.
George Kittle returned last night and he did so in true George Kittle fashion. The 49ers’ tight end has 15 catches on 16 targets for 182 yards – 70 of which came after the catch and 43 of which came after contact, per PFF – and a touchdown.
On his way to the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown, 49ers’ rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk went airborne. After avoiding more than one Eagles’ defender, Aiyuk hurdled over safety Marcus Epps on his way to the end zone.
Brandon Aiyuk hurdles into the end zone! @THE2ERA
— NFL (@NFL) October 5, 2020
Team Work Makes the Dream Work
Azeez Al-Shaair got his first-career interception on a Javon Kinlaw tipped pass, while Jamar Taylor got his first full NFL sack when he came in for Williams.
At 2-2 and sitting at the bottom of the NFC West, the 49ers are not in a good spot. That being said, they host the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, so wallowing is not an option.
“We’re professionals and I just expect our team to flush it,” Kittle said. “You get 24 hours and you flush it. If guys linger on that, then we have a bigger problem. It’s football. You get 16 chances and we have to come out there and just try to go win one next week.”
Linebacker Fred Warner sees a sense of urgency for the defending NFC champs.
“We were upset for sure” Warner said. “The fact that we’re 0-2 at home, there’s got to be a sense of urgency, guys got to be executed a lot better. I got to look at myself in the mirror. It starts with me on defense. Everybody’s got to be better. That can’t happen. Luckily, we got a game this upcoming week at home where we can improve and make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
Bring on the Dolphins.