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.
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.