49ers move to 2-0; 5 burning questions answered for week 2

The 49ers 17-11 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday was a masterclass in resilience. Facing a difficult defense with a raucous crowd on hand for the Eagles home opener, San Francisco needed to weather the storm to stay in the game early.


Once things cleared up late in the first half, the 49ers dominated throughout the remainder of the game to move to 2-0 on the season.


Here are the answers to the five burning questions I asked before the game.


1. Will Kyle Shanahan stay committed to the run? YES


San Francisco struggled to get their running game going during the first half, but stuck with it and things began to open up after halftime.


After rushing for over 100 yards in week one, rookie Elijah Mitchell was held to only 42 yards on 17 carries with a long of 10 yards. He left the game after the third quarter with a shoulder injury, but was able to come back in late in the fourth quarter to help finish off the game after fellow rookie Trey Sermon was knocked out of the game on his first carry.


JaMycal Hasty added 38 yards on only five carries. His 21-yard run in the fourth quarter helped set the 49ers offense up for their second touchdown of the day.


A primary concern with Hasty is his ability to hold onto the football, and this showed up during the fourth quarter when he couldn’t handle a pitch from Jimmy Garoppolo deep in 49ers territory. San Francisco was fortunate to dodge a bullet there as the ball would bounce out of bounds.


You can’t talk about the running game against Philadelphia without mentioning Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers quarterback gained only 20 yards on 11 carries but his fourth quarter touchdown proved to be the game winner. Garoppolo isn’t going to make highlight reel runs, but his ability to get away from pressure and run the quarterback sneak is a big plus. This may sound strange, but go back to last season and watch how many short yardage plays were stuffed because Nick Mullens or C.J. Beathard weren’t able to run a sneak.


2. Can the 49ers passing game take advantage of their opportunities? YES and NO


Jimmy Garoppolo finished the day 22-30, 189 yards and one touchdown through the air, but the game was a bit more difficult than that stat line may suggest.


The combination of crowd noise and pressure from Philadelphia’s pass rush played a big factor in Garoppolo not getting settled into the game early. Garoppolo was unable to connect with on a number of downfield throws throughout the early portion of the game.


Late in the first half Kyle Shanahan turned to the screen game to slow down take advantage of the pass rush and get Garoppolo into a groove. Near midfield with only 25 seconds left in the half, Garoppolo would rip a throw to Deebo Samuel over the middle which the receiver would take down to the Philadelphia 11-yard line. Garoppolo would hit Jauan Jennings for a touchdown on the next play to give the 49ers a lead that they would not relinquish.


3. Can the 49ers defense stop the run? NO


The defense started out defending the run well early in the game but struggled as the game went along, allowing Philadelphia to gain 151 yards on 29 attempts.


Despite the allowing over five yards per carry, the San Francisco defense would do a good job of stopping Philadelphia once they moved into scoring position for the second week in a row.


4. Will the 49ers defense rally to the football? YES


The 49ers defense did a very good job of rallying to the football throughout the game and stifling the Eagles offense.
After completing over 77% of his passes in a week one win over Atlanta, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was able to complete only 52% against San Francisco.


How did the 49ers manage this? They showed the ability to stop the screen game and by the second half Hurts was forced to play quarterback, going four of eighth for only 39 yards. Of Hurt’s 190 yards passing in the game, 91 came off a deep throw to Quez Watkins late in the first half. The Eagles would end up getting zero points on the possession as the 49ers defense would mount a goalline stand. This would prove to be the turning point of the game, as San Francisco would take the ball 97 yards for a touchdown on the ensuing possession to go into halftime with a 7-3 lead.

5. Can the 49ers minimize penalties? YES


Outside of a 15-yard penalty for an illegal crackback block by Mohamed Sanu near the middle of the second quarter which ultimately stalled a drive, the 49ers offense played a pretty clean game with regards to penalties.


In fact, it was the Eagles defense that struggled with penalties. On the final 49ers scoring possession of the game, multiple personal foul calls against Philadelphia kept the drive alive to help set up the 46-yard field goal by Robbie Gould.


Prediction:


49ers 24 Eagles 16


Moved to 2-0 with my predictions. My points total was off, but the 49ers defense did a good job of holding Philadelphia out of the endzone for much of the game as expected.

This article has 52 Comments

  1. Jack,
    Do you know if there is an emphasis on not calling O holding on passing downs by the officials? Both last week and this week I saw what looked to me like many O holding penalties committed by the Lions and Eagles that were ignored by the officials. That could be part of the reason the 9ers haven’t been getting as much pressure as I thought they would. When you are doing your film work please take a look for that. thanks OC

    1. A major trend last year was to let guys play and keep the flag in the pocket for offensive holding. Seems to be more of the same this year. Probably to boost points and eyeballs in front of the TV since ratings were down a bit last year.

    2. I haven’t hear anything on that, Coach. I’ll keep an eye it when rewatching the game. Really can’t wait for gamepass to get the All-22 going again.

  2. Resilience. Remember game 2 in 2019, overcoming 5 TOs and eking out the win? This game could have a similar effect on this season.

    Man, we really could have used a Vikes win in AZ. Fing kicker. 😡 Seattle may end up losing though.

      1. For sure. Kyler will be a problem. Buckner used to refer to him as the “little squirrel “. We also have the titans later in the season @TN. Henry is a mack truck. I think we split with AZ and beat TN.

  3. 2-0
    1. Next week at home versus the Packers will be epic. Next 3 are GB, Sea, AZ followed by the bye week. We will know a lot about ourselves at the BYE.
    2. Jimmy had a miserable first 20 minutes and a pretty good and solid final 40. I believe each of his rushes resulted in a TD or a first down. I was hoping and expecting to see more of Lance this week.
    3. Ward, Tart , Warner and Bosa played huge. As Jack correctly points out, they rallied to the ball. Despite the long pass, Lenoir and Norman played pretty well. They will have their work cut out for them with Davante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins coming up.
    4. We have to work on our screens and shuffle passes. We have far too many errant passes, drops, timing errors and miscues.
    5. Running game was efficient and productive when we needed it most. Eagles are a top 5 front 7 . This was our toughest opponent for our RBs this year. Sermon will be fine. A wicked shot to the head would cause anyone to fumble.
    6. Go Niners.

  4. 2 – 0 feels great! Not a pretty win but a win is a win. We are going to need a better QB performance moving forward if we are going to win this division.

    1. 73% completion rate is pretty darn good along with 3 QB sneaks against that defense. I don’t see much to complain about hear.

      1. Let’s be real here, the Def kept us in the game by giving up only 3 pts in the 1st half while the offense stunk up the place. No offense to Jimmy G but he is currently the worst QB in our division and does not put a fear on any defense. That is just the reality and the reason they traded 3 1st and a 3rd to draft Lance.

        1. I guess you don’t believe the opponent has anything to do with it. Their defense gets a say also. That defense was very good and is the reason that Shanahan called the plays he called. From where I sit, Jimmy handled Shanahan’s plays to near perfection.

          1. Rib, outside our fanbase, I don’t know many people who would pick JG over any of the current QBs in our div. Just curious, how would you rank them? We know how Kyle/Lynch feels about JG.

            1. ricardo, all 4 QBs have a lot to prove this season. Despite my posting, I rank by success not fantasy stats. When was the last time we saw Wilson in a SB? When was the last time was saw Stafford win a playoff game? When was the last time we saw Murray in a playoff game? (though I’ll give the kid a pass, only his third year after all).

              On this Niners team, I’ll take Jimmy when healthy.

              1. ribico, I’m ranking the QBs with this untrained eyes based solely on their performance and skills. Football is a team sport. We know who are the top players in the league in each position regardless of the team’s wins and losses. We know Kittle is one of the best or the best TE. We know Warner is the one of the best LB or the best. Is there any question how good Donald is regardless of the Rams wins and losses? Is like saying Jordan wasn’t the best player until he won a playoff or championship. How many GMs or Coaches will take JG over Stafford? Not many, heck our own coach and GM would probably have traded for Stafford straight up for JG. Don’t know for sure but them trading 3 1st and a 3rd to draft a raw unproven QB says a lot about how they feel about JG. I’m not hear to bash JG, he is getting paid a lot! Top 5 salary I believe so fans demanding and expecting better performance from him should not be a surprise. I had high hopes when he came in but he is who he is at this point of his career. He is a solid QB that can win games if he has good support around him. Anyway, we can agree to disagree. I hope he proves me wrong though.

              2. Top 5 salary I believe so fans demanding and expecting better performance from him should not be a surprise.

                Down to #13
                https://www.nfl.com/photos/ranking-the-nfl-s-biggest-contracts-for-2021

                Which is commensurate for a SB QB veteran. I wonder how those fans on teams with top 10 QB contracts – the Allens, the Prescotts, the Watsons, the Cousins, the Wentzes – who have never even tasted the SB feel about their team’s QB? How demanding are they?

                How many GMs or Coaches will take JG over Stafford?

                The one that took Stafford is on a very hot seat if Stafford doesn’t deliver. What’s the minimal expectation for that team? Divisional round win? I’d say NFCCG at the very least.

                He is a solid QB that can win games if he has good support around him.

                Nearly all competent NFL QBs are capable of that with that kind of support. Why haven’t they made a SB appearance?

                I still say stats be damned. Give me the guy with the track record. The winning record.

              3. The one that took Stafford is on a very hot seat if Stafford doesn’t deliver

                I’m confused of what your point here. There’s a reason why they got rid of Goff. Yes, the same Goff that was drafted #1 AND MADE IT TO THE SUPERBOWL. Making it to the superbowl and even winning it doesn’t make you more talented than the next one. Rogers has not been back to the superbowl since winning it! Dilfer won a superbowl! And kudos to them for not sitting back and not keeping a #1 overall pick and a guy who led them to the superbowl but lost… And kudos to Kyle/Lynch for recognizing that JG is not the answer either even when healthy and drafted Lance. I guess they’ll be in a hot seat too when JG is gone next year or maybe even this year…

                JG’s stats when healthy in the entire playoff including the SB:
                427 – Total Passing yards
                2 – Passing touchdowns
                3 – Interceptions

                He threw more interceptions despite having a dominant running game and defense behind him and kyle asking little of him. And in one time that Kyle asked him to win the game for us and called a perfect designed play… he failed miserably.

  5. The 49ers game plan ended up being what I thought it would be, which was a lot of short passing to set up YAC, but instead of starting out with that like I thought they would it was more something they turned to when the running game and deeper passing game wasn’t working. That Eagles defensive front is no joke.

    Surprisingly (to me at least) the Eagles didn’t focus too much on doing the same. They stuck with trying to get the deeper passes going throughout the game to attack what they saw as the 49ers weakness (the CBs), with some early success, but in the end the strategy backfired on them imo as it allowed the 49ers pass rush into the game and the 49ers CBs actually played quite well.

    Good, gutsy win for the 49ers.

  6. While I expected the W I totally underestimated Eagles and especially their defense. Is that the toughest D we’ll be seeing this season? Outside of the Rams perhaps

  7. I view the Eagles game like a game where an Ace pitcher doesn’t have his best stuff but he still figures out a way to win. The 49ers were outplayed on the O-line and the D-line and still found a way to win. Garoppolo missed several easy throws, especially early in the game and that was very frustrating to watch. Eagles ran for 151 yards (5.2 yd avg) while the 49ers ran for 117 yards (3.1 yd avg). That type of disparity must be corrected if the 49ers are going to win the division. I was a little surprised the refs called that personal foul on the hit on Sermon. Probably a good call in terms of safety but you rarely see that called on a hit on a running back. That call may have saved the game. I was thoroughly impressed with the Eagles line play. Hargraves is a beast and their O-line is really good. Mailata has the skill set to become the best tackle in the NFL. If the 49ers want to develop a similar, and maybe better, player to replace McGlinchey then Daniel Faalele at Minnesota is their guy. Dude is a giant and he has great feet.

    1. I was a little surprised the refs called that personal foul on the hit on Sermon.

      You’re kidding right? That was a blatant and obvious helmet shot to the head. Looked near intentional. If there’s any surprise, I’m surprised the Eagle wasn’t 86ed from the game.

      1. Yes it was a helmet shot to the head which is why the penalty was called. As I said, that type of hit is rarely called when it’s a hit on a RB. Maybe you could watch a few football games to know helmet to helmet contact happens frequently to running backs. As for saying it was “near intentional” – that’s just silly. The defender lowered his head and was actually going low. A different Eagles defender hit Sermon which changed Sermon’s body angle and was the primary factor that caused the helmet to helmet hit. Watch a replay, the defender lowered his head and went low so he couldn’t even see what he was hitting. Glad it was a penalty but it most certainly was not intentional.

        1. helmet to helmet contact happens frequently to running backs.

          Frequently? Maybe. This one was exposed, out in the open.

          Maybe you could watch a few football games

          Gee, how many have I watched since the early 1960s? Take some time away for your J6 rallies and watch yourself.

          The Eagles safety is clearly aiming for head to head:

          https://youtu.be/r71w3GwcKqI?t=4

          Penalty, a no brainer, even for no brainers. Disqualification? A distinct possibility, there will definitely be fines involved. Also for the first defender who clearly threw his forearm at Sermon’s head:

          https://youtu.be/r71w3GwcKqI?t=10

          1. The defender (#42)is literally looking straight down at the grass. Helmet to helmet contact was not intentional. I have a bigger problem with the first defender and the forearm shiver to the head. He should definitely be fined.

    2. You were frustrated watching Jimmy miss a couple of passes on the way to a great victory? Was there any QB yesterday that didn’t miss a pass or two? We won!

      1. Yes. Watching an NFL QB miss simple out throws is frustrating. Jimmy missed Sanu and Aiyuk on very easy throws any NFL QB should make 99% of the time. Both of those bad passes were on 3rd downs which resulted in the end of possessions. That was frustrating.

    3. Eagles ran for 151 yards (5.2 yd avg) while the 49ers ran for 117 yards (3.1 yd avg). That type of disparity must be corrected if the 49ers are going to win the division.

      Indulge a little Grant Cohn-ism here. Take away Hurts 27 yard run at the end when Niners were clearly in prevent and it’s 4.4 yd avg. And take away Jimmy’s one yard sneaks, victory formations etc. and Niners had a 3.5 yd avg. Not great, but not hand-wringing worthy, especially going into the game when everyone was like “oh that Eagle’s ground game and defensive front!”

      1. Yeah, use of numbers this way don’t make sense of context of the game, Here, the Niners adopted a methodical grind-it-out (Harbaughesque?) approach to mounting long scoring drives. Niners could totally win the division with a ball-control approach that may result in a low ypc but keeps the 3 excellent NFCW QBs off the field. That is unlikely since Kyle explosive run plays are a characteristic of Kyle’s offense — unless they are on the road in a home opener against a great D line and where their RBs are shorthanded.

        One thing that puzzled me was that the O did not test the edges in the first half with more outside zone runs, quick lateral passes to outside receivers, jet sweeps, etc. Obviously, I am missing something that kept Kyle from using these plays.

        1. Yeah, use of numbers this way don’t make sense of context of the game

          Exactly. I’ll take the 10-8 advantage in 1st downs by rush and 10 minute advantage in TOP. Harbaughesque! Ha! Who said Kyle is stuck in his ways? ;)

          That’s right Dee. When will we know more about Hasty’s and Mitchell’s status?

        2. “One thing that puzzled me was that the O did not test the edges in the first half with more outside zone runs, quick lateral passes to outside receivers, jet sweeps, etc. Obviously, I am missing something that kept Kyle from using these plays.”
          That puzzled me too. I kept waiting for the outsides runs as the Eagles kept stuffing the inside one. I think coaches sometimes get stubborn and think “they can’t stop us every time”.

        3. I agree to a certain extent about the context of the game. Garbage time stat padding can blur the reality of a team performance. The Eagles game was in doubt until the end. All of those yards mattered. Rt now the 49ers have the 27th ranked run defense in the NFL. Horrible defenses like Atlanta and Jacksonville have statistically better run defenses than the 49ers. I definitely think the 49ers will fix the defense and end the season with a top 10 defense. Yet I am still somewhat shocked about the success both the Lions and Philly had in the run game, especially up the middle, given all the training camp reports of how great the D Line looked.

    4. I have to agree with the Garoppolo inaccuracy statement.

      Just watch the TD pass to Jennings. Jennings fakes in and runs a short out. There are no defenders near him and Jimmy somehow manages to spin Jennings back inside to make the catch. That throw needs to be to the outside not towards the defenders. This is a simple toss with no pressure. Not sure why Jimmy has so much trouble with accuracy on these easy passes that pretty much most, if not all backup quarterbacks in the league can make regularly.

  8. Jack, I did not hear Dee Ford’s name mentioned at all in yesterday’s telecast. Nor did I see him around any plays throughout the game. Was he even in there much, if at all?

    1. Ford was the reason for a number of Hurts runs to his side. No attempt to maintain containment on his rushes which led to multiple easy escapes for Hurts.

  9. The biggest question was if KS believes in Jimmy.
    His below standard play in the 1st half could have made KS replace him with Lance, but he didn’t and Jimmy rewarded him with his better half.
    I think KS has made it clear that Trey is still a project.

    1. Kyle was asked at half time if Trey would get any playing time and Kyle indicated no. He knew this was going to be a tough close came and not the time to put in a rookie with little experience. I think Trey will get most of his snaps against weak opponents or when we have a large lead.

    2. That was a tough physical game with a lot of pressure being generated by the Eagles DL. My guess is Shanahan didn’t want to risk a young guy like Lance making a mistake that would cost them the game. If you look at the performances of all the other rookie QB’s yesterday they all made huge mistakes with the exception of Jones who kept everything short and made sure he wasn’t the reason the Pats lost.

  10. It seems like S. Ebukam hasn’t been on the field much but almost every time he is in there he is making plays. (all the number changes have made it difficult to follow the game) Ford’s play has not been overwhelming, How bout Ebukam at DE on passing downs.

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