There is no denying the 49ers got off to a rough start in Philadelphia on Sunday.
The offense sputtered early, posting three straight three-and-outs while allowing the Eagles to dominate the game in nearly every aspect. Kyle Shanahan didn’t place the blame solely on quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The head coach thought it took a while for the entire offense to start clicking.
“We were off on a number of things,” Shanahan said on Monday. “I know Jimmy missed a few throws early. Guys had a couple of drops early, they weren’t the easiest, but I think they should have caught a couple of those. I think our whole offense was off a little bit.”
It wasn’t until 4:20 left in the half that Garoppolo and the offense got into a rhythm.
Shanahan orchestrated a 12-play, 97-yard drive that flipped the momentum in the 49ers' favor. The 49ers held a lead for the remainder of the game, winning 17-11, and returned home from their 10-day road trip 2-0.
Prior to that last drive of the half, the 49ers had only been able to manage three first downs and gain 64 yards over 20 plays, accounting for 3.2 yards per play. Garoppolo had only completed half of his attempts prior to throwing eight straight completions to close out the half.
Despite the rough start, the 49ers' mood never changed.
“It was calmer than I expected,” Garoppolo said after the game. “The guys were not freaking out. It was a tough defense. We knew that going into the game that it was going to be a grinder type of game. Guys stayed that course and that is what you want to see. We are a resilient group."
It was a balanced drive with five run plays and seven passes. Garoppolo completed passes to four different targets and three different players carried the ball, including the quarterback himself.
The entire offense had to work together to gain six of the offense’s nine first downs of the half in that final drive. While Shanahan and Co. would prefer the offense get on track earlier in the game, it was that drive that turned the tables against the Eagles' stout defense.
“To be able to go all the way down the field there and kind of bleed the clock out and for it to end with a touchdown, not just a field goal, I thought that was a huge turning point,” Shanahan said.
“I think that really gave our guys some confidence, some momentum going into the halftime and kind of calmed everyone down. Like, ‘alright, this is a pretty fun game.’”
The 49ers were able to put together another lengthy drive in the second half that lasted nearly eight full minutes. The 16-play, 85-yard drive resulted in the team’s second touchdown of the day and was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Garoppolo.
“That was tough that we had to fight for it,” Shanahan said of the momentum-changing drive. “I think once you have some success then you kind of enjoy the grind. You realize how going through all that and then finally persevering gives you a little bit of confidence.
“I think that let Jimmy and our whole offense and our whole team have a little more confidence in the second half.”