49ers

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 23-3 Week 1 loss vs Panthers

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 23-3 Week 1 loss vs Panthers

SANTA CLARA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 23-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers in the opening week of the regular season on Sunday at Levi's Stadium:

1. The kid is all right
Things did not look good when 49ers rookie linebacker Reuben Foster went down in obvious pain with a right leg injury during the first quarter.

Foster is a dynamic player. He might already be the best player on the team. And the 49ers' defense got off to a good start with Foster flashing his sideline-to-sideline playmaking ability.

Foster’s injury was reason for massive concern, as it prompted the 49ers’ medical staff to bring a cart onto the field to take him back to the locker room for further observation. Thankfully for the 49ers, X-rays were negative. Although Foster was finished for the day, he still walked back to the sideline and stood to watch the remainder of the game.

The early indications are that Foster’s injury could keep him out a week or two, but a long-term injury was avoided. Foster promised, "I'll be back soon. Very, very, very soon."

2. Help is on the way
The 49ers knew they needed help at the guard positions. On the day of the 49ers’ final exhibition game, general manager John Lynch completed a trade to acquire former first-round draft pick Laken Tomlinson from the Detroit Lions.

Left guard Zane Beadles has really struggled, beginning in training camp. On Sunday, he surrendered a sack-fumble against Panthers defensive lineman Wes Horton in the first half that led to Carolina's first touchdown. Let’s not put too much blame on Beadles, but it certainly looks as if it’s only a matter of time before Tomlinson replaces him.

Running back Carlos Hyde did OK with 45 yards on nine carries, but they fell behind by so much that they had to abandon the run game in the second half. The 49ers gave up four sacks and at least eight quarterback hits. And of all the places where the 49ers had issues on Sunday, the spot where they might have a more talented player currently behind a starter is at left guard.

3. It’s going to take time
Coach Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system is proven, but it also might be too complex to expect this collection of players to get it mastered so early in his tenure. The 49ers had pre-snap penalties, issues with the play clock and more than a few physical errors, too.

Quarterback Brian Hoyer was largely accurate, completing 24 of 35 pass attempts (68.6 percent). Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin should have caught Hoyer’s first deep ball, which almost assuredly would have led to the 49ers taking a first-quarter lead. Other times, Hoyer seemed to hold the ball too long when passes should have come out sooner.

Hoyer’s third-quarter interception -- a play that basically eliminated the possibility of a 49ers comeback -- was a matter of a demanding play call coupled with Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly doing an outstanding job of baiting the quarterback. Hoyer turned his back entirely to the defense to sell a play fake. Kuechly had diagnosed exactly what was happening and got into position for the pick while Hoyer was not looking down the field. Kuechly stepped in front of 49ers tight end George Kittle for the interception.

Let's make one thing clear about the 49ers' quarterback situation: There is a significant gap between Hoyer and rookie backup quarterback C.J. Beathard, so there’s no reason to even be thinking along those lines at this point.

49ers veteran expected to play in Pro Bowl thanks to Eagles

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49ers veteran expected to play in Pro Bowl thanks to Eagles

UPDATED: The 49ers announced Monday morning that Joe Staley has accepted a spot on the NFC Pro Bowl team. He will replace Dallas offensive tackle Tyron Smith.

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Veteran 49ers left tackle Joe Staley is expected to benefit from the Philadelphia Eagles’ trip to the Super Bowl.

Staley, originally chosen as an alternate, is expected to be named to his sixth Pro Bowl to take the place of Eagles Pro Bowl tackle Lane Johnson.

The Pro Bowl will be played Sunday, Jan. 28, in Orlando, Florida. Members of the Super Bowl participant Eagles and New England Patriots will not play in the all-star game. The Eagles advanced to the Super Bowl on Sunday with a 38-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

The other Pro Bowl offensive tackles representing the NFC are Dallas’ Tyron Smith and Los Angeles’ Andrew Whitworth, who replaced Washington’s Trent Williams.

Staley got off to a rough start last season as the 49ers opened on a nine-game losing streak. The idea of his career coming to an end began to creep into his mind, he said recently on the 49ers Insider Podcast.

But Staley said he had a talk with coach Kyle Shanahan that got him refocused for the remainder of the season. The 49ers finished with a five-game win streak to finish with a 6-10 record, and Staley played well down the stretch.

“I’m so far gone from where I was in that moment early in the year that I’m just focused on next year and, hopefully, years after that,” said Staley, 33, an 11-year NFL veteran. “I feel like I can still play.

“I think this last half of the season I played some of the best football of my career. I feel very confident in what we’re doing schematically with the people surrounding us, and it shows in my own play.”

Staley would join fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who was the only 49ers player named to the Pro Bowl when the teams were announced last month.

Foles frenzy: Eagles fly over Vikings to meet Patriots in Super Bowl LII

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Foles frenzy: Eagles fly over Vikings to meet Patriots in Super Bowl LII

BOX SCORE

PHILADELPHIA -- Hey Philly, maybe it's time to forget Carson Wentz. Nick Foles might be good enough to win the Eagles their first Super Bowl.

Foles was on fire Sunday night against the stingiest scoring defense in the NFL. Philly made big play after big play on both sides of the ball in a stunning 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC championship.

Next up after their most-lopsided playoff victory: the Eagles' first Super Bowl appearance since 2005, against the team that beat them then, AFC champion New England.

Foles replaced the injured Wentz in Game 13 and finished off a rise from last place to first in the NFC East. There were plenty of doubters entering the playoffs, but the former starter in Philadelphia (15-3) under another regime has been brilliant.

His best work might have come against Minnesota (14-4) and its vaunted defense that was torn apart in every manner. Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, showing poise, escapability and moxie in going 26 for 33.

In doing so - helped greatly by the Eagles' domination on defense and a spectacular weaving 50-yard interception return TD by Patrick Robinson - Foles ruined the Vikings' hopes of being the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its own stadium

Instead, the Eagles will seek their first Super Bowl crown in Minnesota on Feb. 4; their last championship came in 1960.

OVER AT HALFTIME: Minnesota made it look easy at the outset, driving 75 yards on nine plays, each of which gained yardage. The payoff was a 25-yard throw from Case Keenum to Kyle Rudolph well behind linebacker Najee Goode as Philadelphia's defense looked confused on the play.

That didn't happen again for Philly.

Defensive end Chris Long had a huge hand in Robinson's 50-yard interception return. Long burst in from the left side and got his arm on Keenum to disrupt the throw for Adam Thielen. The ball went directly to Robinson, who sped down the left side, then made a sharp cut to the right and got a superb block from Ronald Darby to reach the end zone.

Inspired, Philly's D forced a three-and-out, the Foles led the Eagles on a 12-play, 75-yard masterpiece of a drive. LeGarrette Blount showed all his power and escapability on an 11-yard surge up the middle for a 14-7 lead.

Turnovers, something Minnesota rarely committed with an NFC-low 14 during the season, hurt again and not only ended a solid drive, but set up more Philly points. On third down from the Eagles 15, Keenum was blindsided by rookie Derek Barnett, and the ball bounced directly to Long.

It was only the second strip-sack the Vikings have been victimized by all season.

A blown coverage - another rarity for Minnesota - on third-and-10 allowed Alshon Jeffery to get wide open for a 53-yard TD, and Philadelphia tacked on Elliott's 38-yard field goal to make it 24-3 at halftime.

DANCING IN THE LINC: Fifty seconds into the final quarter, with the score 38-7, Eagles players on the sideline and waiting to kick off on the field were dancing up a storm and fans were chanting "We want Brady."

They get Tom Brady and company in two weeks.

BACK TO THE BIG GAME: Long won the Super Bowl last year with the Patriots, as did Blount. Now they return on the other side.

QUICK DRIVE: Philadelphia got the ball with 29 seconds remaining in the first half at its 20. Foles hit passes of 11 yards to Jay Ajayi, 36 to Ertz and 13 to Ajayi before Elliott's field goal to end the half.

THIRD DOWNS: Minnesota was the league's best team defending third downs and was third in converting them. Yet Philadelphia went 10 for 14.

NEXT UP: Minnesota returns home to watch two other teams play at its stadium for the Lombardi Trophy.

With the entire stadium singing "Fly Eagles Fly" during the NFC trophy ceremony, Philadelphia can look forward to facing New England in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4