THIS was supposed to be a trap game. You know it and I know it. However, the injuries we suffered last week, left a couple of our guys with something to prove in this one. That, combined with some suck-ass weather, and just flat-out more talent, was more than enough to send San Francisco to 0-8.
EAGLES 33 – 49ers 10
Alshon Jeffery (2 – 62 – 31.0 – 1) had more yards on his 53 yard touchdown catch-and-run, than any 49ers player had rushing or receiving all day. The Defense collected 4 sacks, 13 hits, and two interceptions, one of which returned for a touchdown by CB Jalen Mills (2 – 0 – 1 – 0). QB Carson Wentz (18/32 – 56.2% – 211 – 2 – 1) didn’t have a great day but, he was still effective at keeping the Offense at full-size. At no point did it feel like, or look like the Eagles were dialing the playbook down, in order to make life easier on our back-up LT.
I hear you asking, “What about all the stuff that stats don’t reveal?” Well, that’s the reason for these “Four Things” articles. We introduce an idea of what needs addressing BEFORE the game, so that fans have to honestly answer questions about those things, AFTER the game. This helps to get us, and keep us, all on the same page.
So, of the Four Things we were looking for in this last game, what exactly did we see?
1) Win the blitz: The 9ers didn’t really blitz Wentz very much, and they didn’t really need to. They got decent pressure for most of the game, with just their line. While RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai wasn’t the disaster most of us were expecting, the lines of communication between he and LG Stefen Wisniewski, must improve ASAP. That said, once the Eagles went to a no-huddle approach, Wentz himself was much sharper and quicker at getting the ball out. (DONE)
2) Air it out: It would be nice if more of our long attempts became long completions, but the aim of this week wasn’t necessarily the completions. As I said the point was to show faith in the O-line, clear space for the run game, and show other teams that the loss of LT Jason Peters, will not shrink the playbook or stop us from attacking. If this goal were a bell, we’d have rung it hard enough to put a crack in it. (DONE)
3) Put the top on: Containing WR Marquis Goodwin was going to be key for clogging up the rest of San Fran’s offense. While he was questionable to play due to his back, he was active for the game. That was of no help to the 9ers, as the only thing Goodwin caught on Sunday, was possibly a cold. (DONE)
4) Turn up the heat: 13 hits and 4 sacks sounds like we dialed up a lot of blitzes, but really we didn’t. Didn’t need to, since we can generally get pressure with 4 rushers. That and the 49ers offensive linemen were dropping like teenage girls at Beatles performance. We didn’t really get this one done, but who cares? We got the result without doing the work. (NOT DONE)
This weeks score is 3 out of 4, bringing us to 26 of 32 on the season. Next week’s dance with the Denver Broncos may prove to be a little tougher, but at least we don’t have to play at Mile High next week. (And yeah, I’m aware that their stadium is called Sports Authority Field at Mile High. I just hate the shitty names that arenas have these days. And to me it’s still PATTISON station, not AT&T station.)
On The Whole:
We beat an opponent that we were supposed to beat. Even if we hadn’t dominated, it wouldn’t have mattered, because we won a trap game. That’s the important part. When a team becomes elite, most of their games are trap games, because few opponents will be elite. So instead of fearing trap games, get used to them.
We took two major injuries last week, and still rolled over an NFL team. LT Vaitai didn’t give up a billion sacks, and MLB Joe Walker (2 – 0 – 0 – 0) wasn’t a target that the 49ers could pick on all day. Detractors will tell you that San Fran wasn’t exactly the stiffest test, and that would be true. However, the 49ers were the only team on the schedule this week.
While no one was looking, the Eagles pulled off a balanced Offensive attack with 32 pass to 27 called runs. Speaking of running the ball, I told you to expect RB LeGarrette Blount (16 – 48 – 3 – 1 – 0) to carry the ball a season-high 18 times, and I was wrong. He only matched his season-high of 16 carries. RB Corey Clement (10 – 54 – 5.4 – 0 – 0) can now say there was a week when he led the team he rooted for as a child, in rushing yards. And he can say he did it as an undrafted rookie.
Defense was the story of the day. Once again we took away an opponent’s run game and left their QB to do everything all by himself. This game marked the third time in eight games that our opponent’s leading rusher was their QB. All this defense does is take, even though it’s by no means at full strength right now.
Be afraid NFL. This 7-1 team still has room to get MUCH better.