The 49ers defense took the field to start the game, and it was a scary sight two plays in as Fred Warner went down on the field. What felt like doomsday only resulted in Warner missing two plays.
But the bad news didn’t stop there, as San Francisco failed to get off the field on 3rd & 8 after Jalen Hurts found A.J. Brown over the middle on a pass over the outstretched arms of Warner.
After forcing a 4th & 3, Hurts had to scramble, and found DeVonta Smith, who made a miraculous catch:
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DeVonta Smith, are you serious!? pic.twitter.com/hMWgFGKOe7
Philadelphia went fast enough where Kyle Shanahan couldn’t challenge, and Miles Sanders scored from six yards out to give the Eagles an early 7-0 lead.
The 49ers picked up a pair of first downs and made it to midfield, but Philadelphia forced a sack-fumble on Brock Purdy, thanks to Haason Reddick. That was Purdy’s first fumble of his young career. Obviously, it wasn’t fully on the rookie, but it was a costly turnover.
That gave Philly a short field, which meant the Niners defense would have to once again bow up. They wasted little to no time forcing a punt.
Purdy did not come back in on the next series after an apparent elbow injury. That meant it was Josh Johnson time. The 49ers lost yardage and were forced to punt.
The 49ers defense held strong for another series. The Eagles started 1-for-4 on third downs. Unfortunately, with a fourth-string quarterback, they’d need to play near flawless football.
Thanks to a poor punt and a penalty, the 49ers were in business offensively. But a delay of game and a sack put the offense behind the chains, and that’s not something Johnson is capable of overcoming.
The bar was low for the fourth-stringer, but he didn’t stand a chance with the pressure the Eagles were generating. Philly’s defensive line lived in the 49ers backfield. So, on Purdy and Johnson’s last drives, they faced a 3rd & 20. That’s not the recipe for success.
The 49ers defense is the definition of success. The Eagles offense had no answers as they started the game going 1-for-7 on third downs. But a pass interference on Jimmie Ward extended the drive for Philadelphia. T.Y. McGill was then flagged for an illegal hands to the face, which gifted the Eagles another first down.
Miles Sanders had a run of 17 yards which put the Eagles into scoring position. But a Mooney Ward illegal contact penalty kept the drive alive for the third time, and that was the nail in the coffin on the drive. Sanders would score to give the Eagles a 14-7 lead.
On the ensuing drive, Johnson fumbled a snap that hit him right in the hands. To make matters worse, he couldn’t recover the fumble. Philadelphia scored three plays later to take a commanding 21-7 lead.
Johnson’s fumble was a backbreaker because the game was still one possession and the Niners were set to receive the ball to start the second half. Instead, a two-possession game felt insurmountable the way the Eagles blocked in the first half.
The 49ers picked up a first down thanks to an excellent route by George Kittle. But after Spencer Burford allowed a quarterback hit, Johnson left the game and was being evaluated for a concussion.
After the defense forced a three-and-out, Purdy remained in the game. The question everybody wanted to know was would Shanahan throw the ball with an injured Purdy? On 3rd & 13, the Niners threw a screen pass and were forced to punt.
After allowing a first down, the defense forced a stop. That was until Jordan Mason was flagged for a personal foul for roughing the punter. That wouldn’t be the last penalty of the drive by the defense, but it was
The fourth rushing touchdown was the most San Francisco has allowed in a playoff game. This may fall on deaf ears, but there was nothing left to accomplish for DeMeco Ryans as a defensive coordinator. That side of the ball did everything they could to keep the game manageable, but eventually ran out of gas.
Penalties and poor angles were not the fault of Ryans. The time they spent on the field caught up to the 49ers defense, as did penalties and poor angles. Despite having a three-touchdown lead, the Eagles only averaged 4.4 yards per play. There were a few longer runs, but the defense kept getting off the field. That is, until they didn’t.
Purdy was the only quarterback left after Johnson was ruled out with a concussion. Shanahan did not throw the ball after running it on four straight attempts.
I understand why he didn’t throw it, but it felt as though Samuel and McCaffrey were set up to fail, running into a defense that new there was no threat of the pass.
The Eagles took over in their territory. On 3rd & 12, Dre Greenlaw gets flagged for peanut punching the ball after the play was over. That’s yet another first down via penalty for the Eagles. Philadelphia added a field goal to make it 31-7.
We saw McCaffrey throw a pass. That did not go well. Purdy returned to quarterback after that play. Trent Williams was disqualified from the game after a body slamming K’Von Wallace.