PHILADELPHIA — As the 49ers filed off the field at Lincoln Financial Field and into the locker room, there was a completely different energy level as a week earlier.
The 49ers improved to 2-0 with their second road victory to open the season.
But the 49ers’ 17-11 win against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, felt a whole lot better than the previous week against the Detroit Lions.
“I was so proud of the guys in that win,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “That was a grinding game that was hard work in everything. We had about 300 yards of offense (306, to be exact), and every one was tough to earn.”
It was a hard-earned victory, for sure, for a team that has already been hit with injuries to key players, such as running back Raheem Mostert, cornerback Jason Verrett and linebacker Dre Greenlaw. Mostert and Verrett are out for the season, while Greenlaw is expected to miss approximately half the season.
Here is the 49ers’ report card from their Week 2 win:
The numbers might not back up this high of a grade, but there was something about the 49ers’ ability to keep running the ball and pick up big first downs along the way. The 49ers averaged only 3.1 yards per carry. That is not good. But they ran the ball 38 times, and that is good.
When they needed a big first down, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo often took it into his own hands with a quarterback sneak. He put the game away with a successful run behind center Alex Mack for 3 yards at the two-minute warning. Then, he took a knee three times to run out the clock.
Things were a lot more difficult for rookie Elijah Mitchell this week, as he managed just 42 yards on 17 carries against a very good Eagles defensive front.
Garoppolo and the passing game got off to a slow start, as the 49ers did not register a first down on any of their first three possessions of the game. But Garoppolo and Deebo Samuel clicked late in the second quarter on the go-ahead touchdown drive after the Eagles dominated the first 26 minute of the game only to hold a 3-0 lead.
Samuel’s 40-yard reception set up Garoppolo’s 11-yard TD pass to Jauan Jennings. Jennings was the last player in the progression, and Garoppolo found him wide open on the play. The 49ers’ O-line did a fine job of protecting Garoppolo, who was not sacked in the game.
So much for that storyline of the 49ers’ defense being better prepared for running quarterbacks this season because Trey Lance can run the scout team.
Jalen Hurts gained 82 yards and a touchdown on 10 rushing attempts. The Eagles averaged 5.2 yards per play on the ground. The 49ers expect more from the front seven than that.
The 49ers’ pass defense was generally very good. Sure, rookie Deommodore Lenoir surrendered a 91-yard pass play, but Jaquiski Tartt made one of the plays of the game when he prevented the touchdown. The Eagles did not score on the drive.
The 49ers were not at all fooled by a version of “Philly Special,” the trick play near the goal line that has a permanent place in franchise history for being the memorable play from the Eagles’ only Super Bowl title just three seasons ago. Even with the 91-yard pass play, Hurts had 190 yards passing. Lenoir had three pass breakups.
Josh Norman, who started on the other side, was called for two pass interference penalties, but he otherwise was solid. Nick Bosa registered two sacks for minus-13 yards.
Javon Kinlaw blocked a field goal, which was a big play as the Eagles were simply unable to put many points on the board and extend their 3-0 lead. Punter Mitch Wishnowsky was outstanding with a 42.6 net average. He landed three of his five punts inside the 20-yard line and two inside the 10.
Newcomer Trent Cannon downed one punt at the 3-yard line. Robbie Gould gave the 49ers a 17-3 lead in the fourth quarter with a 46-yard field goal.
The 49ers tried to take advantage of the Eagles’ aggressive defensive front and their soft coverages with a lot more screen passes. Those had varying degrees of success. Shanahan and Garoppolo were clearly on the same page late in the first half, as they held off on using any timeouts until the 49ers were in a position to not run the risk of giving the ball back to the Eagles before the end of the half.
Things worked out perfectly, as Garoppolo hit Jennings for a touchdown with :12 remaining in the first half. Other than allowing way too many yards to Hurts as a runner, the 49ers’ defense was good. They had a bend-but-don’t-break mentality.
Shanahan and the coaching staff deserve credit for keeping the team focused and ready to play after a rough game in Detroit and during their week of practices in West Virginia.
Tight end George Kittle described the 49ers' win as a “grimy” and “dirty.” The 49ers were ecstatic to do enough to win this game against the Eagles, who blew out the Atlanta Falcons in their season opener.
There was very little that was pretty about this game, and that made it a more satisfying victory for the 49ers. The game looked a lot different than the win at Detroit, and the 49ers believe that’s a mark of a good team: To be able to win games in all shapes and sizes.