It wasn't pretty in the least bit, but the San Francisco 49ers pulled off the win over the Philadelphia Eagles, 17-11. It was a slow start offensively, but the 49ers defense managed to control the majority of the game, which was highlighted by several mistakes for the Eagles.
"They're a physical team. It's tough," head coach Kye Shanahan said postgame. "Fortunately, our defense held tight. When you give up a big go-route that's going to give them about a 96-yard drive, that feeling is going like, 'oh my gosh. What is happening?' But you just keep playing one play at a time and I thought everyone did that. And when you do that and you do it the right way and you don't turn it over, you look at the scoreboard and it's not how it feels. And I think that's because of the character of the guys and how hard they did and they didn't let anything affect them."
Here are six takeaways from the matchup.
1. Defensive Slugfest
San Francisco's defense kept the 49ers in the game, holding Philadelphia to just three points in the first half. The Eagles first touchdown of the day didn't come until five minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The team managed to hold off Philly after a 91-yard pass from quarterback Jalen Hurts to wide receiver Quez Watkins put the Eagles in scoring position. On 3rd-and-4 on a run-pass option from their own 4 yard line, Hurts attempted to rush for a touchdown up the right sideline before being knocked out of bounds by safety Jimmie Ward. On fourth down, a hustle play by Arik Armstead and good coverage by K'Waun Williams forced an Eagles incompletion on a "Philly Special" remake.
Deommodore Lenoir made his second-consecutive start with Emmanuel Moseley still sidelined with a knee injury and handled his own for the majority of the contest. Lenoir gave up a 91-yard reception that didn't end up in points, but did notch several pass breakups in coverage the rest of the game.
Nick Bosa earned himself two sacks on the day bringing his season total to three. Bosa's bounce back from his abbreviated 2020 campaign has been beyond expected. Bosa in part with the rest of San Francisco's defensive line limited Hurts to just 12 completions for 123 yards and an 80.0 passer rating, a drastic turnaround from his 264-yard, three-touchdown performance a week ago.
2. Slow Offense Start
It was a forgetful first quarter for the 49ers. San Francisco's offense got off to an extremely slow start to open the contest with three-straight three-and-outs featuring dropped passes and high throws. The 49ers did not record a first down for the entirety of the first quarter for the first time ever under Shanahan.
It wasn't until the 49ers final drive of the half that the team picked up momentum. Starting from their own 3 yard line, Jimmy Garoppolo orchestrated a 12-play, 97-yard drive that was highlighted by a dime from the quarterback to Deebo Samuel, who picked up 40 yards en route to the Eagles 11 yard line. The following play, the quarterback found wide receiver Jauan Jennings wide open for an 11-yard touchdown, his first-career reception and first-career score.
San Francisco's second score of the game came on a gritty drive that chipped nine minutes off the clock. The drive featured eight first downs where Garoppolo connected with Samuel, Jennings and Brandon Aiyuk, in his lone reception of the contest. The 49ers drove down field 16-plays for 92 yards that culminated in a Garoppolo quarterback sneak for a touchdown. Garoppolo was a perfect 4-for-4 on quarterback sneaks against the Eagles defense.
"Two 90-plus-yard drives, their defense makes you earn it," Garoppolo said. "Their front is as good as it gets. They get after you and make you earn every yard. It's just one of those bend-don't-break type of defenses. It was a good challenge for us. I thought some guys stepped up. O-line played great. Running backs really stepped up. Those guys were battling in the run game, check downs, all the little things that they did. It goes a long way. I think overall it was a battle out there, but getting the W feels good."
It's worth noting the 49ers offensive line did not surrender a single sack the entirety of the contest.
Garoppolo finished the day completing 22-of-30 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown. He also added his first rushing touchdown since 2019 and notched a career-high 11 rushing attempts for 20 yards.
3. (Another) Big Day for Deebo
For the second-straight week, Samuel led the 49ers pass catchers in receptions and targets. Samuel hauled in six passes for 93 yards and added two carries for eight. He was explosive in forcing missed tackles and racking up yards after the catch. Samuel now has 282 yards on 15 receptions across the 49ers first two games.
Samuel is currently on pace for 2,397 receiving yards, the most to ever be recorded by a 49ers receiver.
4. Special, Special Teams
Javon Kinlaw kept the Eagles from adding points on the board. The 6-foot-5 defensive tackle blocked a field goal that was recovered by Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert, but short of the first down marker, forcing a turnover on downs.
Mitch Wishnowsky had another nice outing on Sunday, pinning Philadelphia inside their own 10, twice. He finished the day with five punts for 226 yards (45.2 average) with three landing inside the 20.
"Mitch with three punts inside the 20, two inside the 10, that's pretty elite right there," George Kittle said. "He's incredible. I know our gunners played well. A guy we just signed this week, Trenton Cannon, who had a tackle inside the 20 on a kickoff that just got our guys going. And then Kinlaw had a blocked field goal. We had zero turnovers on the day and then he has that which is a big change in the game. Shout out to (special teams coordinator Richard) Hightower keeping those boys prepped becase that was huge for us. That was a gamechanger."
5. Capitalizing on Mistakes
Shanahan was even surprised the 49ers led the game 7-3 going into the half. By the flow of the game, and in particular Philadelphia's offensive stats compared to the 49ers, the Eagles seemed to be off to a better start than San Francisco. But mistakes and blunders ultimately played in the 49ers favor. Hurts launched a bomb up the left sideline to wideout Jalen Reagor for a 36-yard touchdown that was ultimately called back as the receiver stepped out of bounds before hauling in the pass.
Kinlaw's batted down field goal also spared San Francisco three points. The failed "Philly Special" was another example of the Eagles being unable to take advantage of their opportunities on offense.
6. Player Updates
The 49ers entered Sunday's game already shorthanded at running back with Raheem Mostert (knee) out for the season. JaMycal Hasty left the game with an ankle injury. Trey Sermon suffered a scary head injury on his first carry of the game. Elijah Mitchell left the game briefly with a shoulder injury and returned after the injuries to Hasty and Sermon. At one point, recently signed running back Trenton Cannon, who tallied one carry, was the lone healthy back in the contest.
According to Shanahan, Mitchell said he was 'good' to return to the game, which is a positive sign for the rookie. Mitchell will undergo an MRI as the team is hopeful he just suffered a stinger. The rookie finished the contest with 42 rushing yards on 17 carries and added two receptions for 11 yards.
On the 49ers final drive of the game, fullback Kyle Juszczyk was sidelined due to cramps, as was Samuel.
Kevin Givens left the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury and did not return.
After back-to-back East Coast matchups and a week-long stay in West Virginia, the San Francisco 49ers return home to Levi's® Stadium to host the Green Bay Packers in the home opener in Week 3.