Well, that was brutal. In true grind-it-out fashion, the 49ers managed to escape this 10 day camping trip in Deetroit, West Virginia, and Philadelphia with a 2-0 record. Yes, there were more casualties among the walking wounded, and the offense took 28 minutes off in the first half, but the niners, behind some monumentally solid defensive play, eeeeked out a 17-11 win over the not-so-pushovery Eagles.
The hero of the game, among many many guys, very well may be Alex Mack. He provided enough push to allow Jimmy G to get 5 first downs on the many 3rd and 4th down and 1 scenarios. Speaking of Jimmy, the voices in my head were starting to clamor for Trey Lance as Garoppolo spent the first 4 drives sailing his throws over open guys, and clanging short passes off others. Sure, Juice and Aiyuk dropped them, but the 49ers had 0 first downs in the 1st quarter, and their best drive to that point was negated on a completely bullshit crackback block call on Mohammed Sanu.
To that point, the 49ers had 3 first downs and 64 yards, and Philly had 8 first downs and 204. But, by sheer determination on the part of the defense, the score was 3-0 Philly. Javon Kinlaw made me forget about DeFoBu for a day as he was the key force to stopping the Eagles run game as he forced a 2 yard loss on 3rd and 1, and then blocked a field goal on the next play. The Eagles next drive saw them hit a 91 yard pass play from their own 3, and NOT score anything despite getting a soft PI call on Josh Norman, and 7 plays within the 5 yard line. Philly tried their famous Philly Special pass play to J Hurts on 4th and 1 but K’Won Williams stayed at home and covered Hurts while AA forced WR Greg Ward to throw the ball out of bounds.
That defensive stand seemed to wake up the 49er offense as Jimmy G directed a 12 play, 97 yard drive to put the 49ers up at the half 7-3. The 49ers were not having much luck on the deeper routes, so they dinked and dunked themselves down the field amid some tough inside runs by Jimmy G of all people on a few scrambles, and QB sneaks. The big play being a nice dart by Jimmy on a 12 yard crossing route that Deebo took across the field and down the sideline for a 40 yard gain down to the 11. The Niners then took advantage of Philly overplaying Deebo and Kittle for an easy toss to Jauan Jennings for the score.
Philly to me wimped out amazingly by taking a knee with 12 seconds left in the half. Dumb. Shades of Mariucci against TB back in the day.
The 2nd half saw the 49ers use up 9 minutes of clock on a 16 play 85 yard drive. It was more of the short passing game mixed in with tough runs up the middle, ending with yet another quarterback sneak on 2nd and goal from the 1. The defense held again, and the Niners went on another drive punctuated by TWO negated fumbles. One on JaMycal Hasty, whose fumble out of bounds for a 12 yard loss was negated by an unnecessary roughness call on Philly, and Trey Sermon’s fumble on his first NFL touch, a 10 yard run up the middle that resulted in two shots to his head, a likely concussion, and a personal foul on Wallace. That saw the Niners go a little too conservative on the 3rd and 3, but they got the FG and had a 17-3 lead.
The one TD drive by Philly late in the 4th was a result of our man coverage on the outside guys, deep safeties, and the subsequent vacating of the right edge. Hurts had 52 of the 60 yards on the drive by running down the right side on runs of 9 and 42 yards. They got the 2 point conversion, so the lead was down to 6.
The last drive was gut-check time as the 49ers could not afford to let Philly have the ball back. Philly had used their timeouts earlier in the quarter, so all the 49ers needed was one 1st down. They got it on an 8 yard pass to Juice, and the last QB sneak to seal the win.
Yes, road wins are tough to come by, and to get these first 2 is something, but man, this was a tough game. Sermon, Hasty, and Mitchell all went out with injuries, but Mitchell was able to return as we were down to Terryon Cannon.
The big takeaway was the outstanding play of Javon Kinlaw. Bosa had a solid game despite being double-teamed all day as well as he works his way back from his knee injury. He had 2 sacks, and some decent pressure and some nice runs defensed.
His most telling comment was: “Any game on grass is better for everybody.” Amen to that.