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Winners and losers from the 49ers disappointing loss to the Eagles

There were a few surprising performances from some unsung heroes, but a few key starters did not bring their A-game, and it hurt the Niners in a big way 

NFL: SEP 13 Cardinals at 49ers Photo by MSA/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Even though the San Francisco 49ers were short-handed against the Philadelphia Eagles, we all could agree that there’s no way they should have lost that game. There were too many costly mistakes to overcome on both sides of the ball, which eventually did the Niners in. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers from Sunday night’s game.

Winners

George Kittle

The backup quarterback’s trust in Kittle is tough to quantify. When it doubt, throw it to your best player. Kittle caught all 15 of his targets and was the only pass-catcher to receive a red-zone target. Two throws were behind Kittle, and he made a nice adjustment on both of those throws. Only one of his 15 receptions did not have a successful outcome for the offense, which speaks to how valuable Kittle is every down. Kittle broke a couple of tackles and had one route where he made the linebacker hop in the wrong direction with a head fake. It’s safe to say he’s healthy again after Sunday night.

Kwon Alexander

Alexander was the 49ers best defender on the field Sunday night. He looked like the pre-injury Kwon of 2019, where he was flying around, making tackles near the line of scrimmage, and taking away routes over the middle of the field. I love his aggressiveness against the run, and oftentimes he allows Fred Warner or whoever the weak-side player is on the defense to make a play if needed.

No player beat his man more against the Eagles on defense than Alexander, who gave up two catches for three yards before allowing a 17-yard reception after covering a running back for eight seconds. Kwon did have a penalty, but six of his eight tackles were stops. He was fantastic.

Kevin Givens

I cannot wait to ask Robert Saleh what it will take for Givens to play more. He played 17 snaps and won more times (4) against the Eagles than anyone else on the defensive line. This is not the first game of the season that Givens has done that. Givens had a tackle for loss on a stretch play. He also had some effective pass rush wins where he was within a split-second of hitting the quarterback.

With how ineffective Dion Jordan looks, the 49ers may be better-suited to leave Armstead on the edge and let Givens play inside more. After four games, the most effective defensive line has been Hyder Jr., Kinlaw, Givens, and Armstead in sub-packages.

Losers

Nick Mullens

For whatever reason, there are still people out there arguing against a false narrative saying, “where are all of the folks who wanted Mullens as a starter now?” To this day, I haven’t seen or heard an argument that wasn’t from @49ersfanMullen2018 saying that. The one area where the 49ers were going to lose against the Eagles was because Mullens felt the bright lights’ pressure and the Eagles defensive line. Both of those happened Sunday night.

The two interceptions were two of the worst decisions you’ll see from a quarterback at any level and had no business being thrown. Mullens was on target for 14 of his 26 attempts. It’s hard to fathom being that inaccurate. Furthermore, his cement feet in the pocket and lack of movement, and holding onto the ball too long put the offense behind the chains and caused Mullens to take sacks he had no business taking. Whether Jimmy Garoppolo is healthy or not, I have a hard time believing Mullens starts against the Dolphins in Week 5.

The offensive tackles

Trent Williams had more plus blocks—a block where you manhandle your opponent, essentially— against the Eagles (4) than any lineman I’ve charted in the past two seasons. He played better than I initially thought, and I also believe the sacks Williams allowed were bad luck. On one of them, His man was blocked, Laken Tomlinson comes over to help and hits the guy Williams is blocking, and the momentum of that hit freed the defender up to hit Mullens.

Those can both be true while acknowledging Williams’s seven blown blocks on the night. You read that correctly, SEVEN. Williams also had two penalties and allowed a sack and a QB hit. If you’re beaten as a tackle in pass protection, which happened four times with Williams, your quarterback doesn’t have much of a shot.

When both of your tackles are giving up pressure, your dropback passing game will be obsolete. McGlinchey allowed four blown blocks against the pass, including three of those resulting in QB hits. His losses aren’t pretty, and they’ve been happening far too often this season.

Dontae Johnson/Jimmie Ward

Considering the competition, you can’t have half of your secondary get beaten in coverage the way Johnson and Ward were against the Eagles. Ward had a critical penalty that saved the Eagles from 2nd and forever. He also whiffed on Carson Wentz on his touchdown run and gave up two third-down conversions in man coverage. Had a throw not been off-target on another throw, Ward would have given up three first downs. Jimmie is playing more man coverage this year in the slot, and so far, he hasn’t played well.

Johnson had a nice pass breakup as well as a nice fill against the run, but you can’t allow 61 yards against that receiving crops. The long touchdown, Johnson was in position but inexplicably looked back for the ball, and that took him out of phase as he struggled to find the ball in the air. Johnson also gave up another first down on a target where he wasn’t in a position to make a play. He doesn’t look confident out there.

Azeez Al-Shaair

For the first time this year, we have four “losers” on the list. Al-Shaair was a disaster. Yes, he had an interception, but he had two critical missed tackles and three coverage busts. Thankfully, only two of them hurt. Al-Shaair gave up48 yards on two completions. Both of those were big plays, meaning they went over 20 yards. When an offense is short-handed, you have to make them earn every yard and not give them freebies. That didn’t happen on Sunday.

Dre Greenlaw, whenever you’re ready.

Odds and Ends

You have to give C.J. Beathard credit for coming in and putting the 49ers in a position to score on both of his drives. On the final drive, Beathard didn’t have a chance on two of the last three plays to even attempt a throw. Yes, it was against a prevent-style defense, but Beathard made throws and kept the offense moving. We now have a backup quarterback controversy.

I left off Hyder Jr. and Armstead because they were more beneficiaries of Wentz running around in the pocket than actually winning. One of Armstead’s wins came on the last drive when Wentz ran his way. The same happened earlier in the game. Armstead did have three QB hits and a couple of stops, but I can’t in good faith give him credit for a play that takes seven seconds. The same could be said with Hyder. Both players missed two crucial tackles apiece, and Wentz turned those missed tackles into first downs.

The blown block carousel continued on offense. Daniel Brunskill looks like a player from the AAF and not the player he did last season. He missed five blocks, allowed two sacks, and a QB hit. I know you don’t care about receivers blocking, but Brandon Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne, and Deebo Samuel combined for five blown blocks, and when that happens, and you’re an outside running team, your running backs have nowhere to go.

Too many mistakes. Hopefully, the team flushes this game down the toilet, moves on from this stink, and bounces back against Miami before the “gauntlet” begins.