Going into the second half, the 49ers looked like they were heading toward a significantly embarrassing loss. Turns out, they'll only be significantly embarrassed by some things, and they won't have a loss at all. A second-half comeback led them from a 17-point deficit to a one-point win. Third quarter touchdowns to Joshua Morgan and Vernon Davis were outshined only by the amazing play Justin Smith made in the fourth quarter, tracking down Jeremy Maclin as he took the ball into San Francisco territory (and field goal range) and stripping the ball, forcing the fumble and halting the potential Philadelphia Eagles comeback.
The 49ers have Frank Gore to thank for this win, with 127 yards and a touchdown off of fifteen rushes, including some big ones near the end of the game. Gore's first rush of the game was for 40-yards, and San Francisco knew they'd be able to run the ball. A fifteen-yard facemask penalty on the Eagles during the 49ers comeback drive helped boost them to an eventual Gore touchdown. Kendall Hunter contributed to the game-winning drive with a great run off a toss to the left side, where Vernon Davis made a huge block to spring him.
Joshua Morgan hauled in a beautiful 30-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to jump-start the 49ers' comeback, not hesitating at all on the slant route and getting through untouched. A nine-yard touchdown pass to Davis on the next possession would put the 49ers within one possession. Alex Smith was 21-for-33 with 291 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions.
As noted, it wasn't all good. Smith had a bad fumble where he essentially shrieked out of terror with Jason Babin in his face. The defense gave up huge chunks of yardage to DeSean Jackson, notably on a 60+ yarder with Tarell Brown on coverage. The aforementioned Babin had three sacks on the day, and he made Anthony Davis look absolutely terrible.
But it's a win. A comeback win in which the 49ers didn't roll over after the first half, and a win in which they fought off the Eagles at the end instead of bending/breaking once again. I'll have a more in-depth recap a little later, but for now some bullet points after the jump. Go Niners!
- Gore's ankle looks fine, he showed a lot of acceleration through the line, but lacked top-end speed. It's not the first time he's been caught from behind, though. He slowed down a little as the game went on, and then seemed to pick it back up again. At worst, he'll be inconsistent this year.
- Kendall Hunter is an offensive weapon. Still a little raw, and the 49ers are probably asking too much of him too soon, and the Eagles keyed in on it at times. Early on in the second half, they forced him the ball on plays that are well-designed, but ill-fitted for sequence.
- Joe Staley has been a huge disappointment, for me especially. He's not very strong, and he's making mistakes. We've reached a point where Staley should be the one guy on the line not getting false starts, but he's still doing it. Immaturity is the opposite of what this offensive line needs right now.
- Why in the world does Alex Smith throw to Michael Crabtree like he's nine feet tall? He always throws it way high and hard. I'm glad Crabtree's catching is as good as advertised, because that's ridiculous. Still, Crabtree had himself a good game when it all came down to it
- Patrick Willis doesn't look slow or anything like that - not by a long shot, but he did turn the corner badly in the first half on a play in which he was spying Michael Vick and certainly should have stopped him. NaVorro Bowman also didn't make the play that time, but Bowman got him good in the third quarter, wrapping him up on third down short of the first-down marker.
- Aldon Smith had good pressure throughout the game and is a bright spot for the 49ers. There's not much else to say there. The scary thing: he actually started a little late on a couple of those plays, so once he gets his timing down ... should be good.
- On the blocked field goal, Chilo Rachal and Mike Iupati twiiddled their thumbs and didn't make any blocks in the middle of the line. Oops.
- The offensive line needs to be evaluated, to be sure, but I have an issue with the constant switching at right guard. Adam Snyder was in, and then Rachal, and then Snyder again ... while we need to figure out who is better, switching them with that level of regularity in a game situation is only going to make things worse. The best offensive lines have chemistry and consistency, and every time you make that switch, it requires an adjustment of the center, right tackle and fullback. It's not good for the line.
- David Akers didn't look great ... but neither did Alex Henery. I bet he's thinking "ha ha ha ha ha ha!"