The name of the game for the San Francisco 49ers (2-2) today was facing adversity. After a bad start in which Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) WR Brad Smith scored a quick touchdown off a blocked punt, the 49ers were quickly playing a game of catch up. Luckily for San Francisco, they have a stout defense led by DC Vic Fangio and that’s who I believes deserves this game ball.
From not allowing the Eagles offense to cross the 50-yard line until their second to last final drive to holding the Eagles high-powered offense to 213 total yards, Fangio deserves the game ball for devising an “A-plus-plus game-plan.” Not to mention, the 49ers defense held Eagles RB LeSean McCoy and RB Darren Sproles to a combined 21 rushing yards on 11 carries, the 49ers defense played lights out.
One reason for the transformation was using rookie fifth-round pick (No. 150) OLB Aaron Lynch on all nickel situations. For the first three games, Fangio entrusted second-year OLB Corey Lemonier to be that man, however that turned out to be a bust, forcing Fangio to give Lynch a shot. Lynch made an immediate impact as he made one tackle for loss while hitting Eagles QB Nick Foles twice. And while he didn’t record a sack, his impact as a pass-rusher was clearly evident and helped the secondary tremendously.
However, while Lynch performed brilliantly it was the play of CB Perrish Cox who continues to shine in CB Tramaine Brock’s absence. I said it all along that Cox is a better cover corner than Brock and he may have proved it today as he recorded three tackles, four pass break-ups, one interception, and one fumble recovery. If you’re keeping track that’s a stat line worth noting as the guy has a knack for being around the ball.
With the 49ers defense holding it down, as the Eagles generated 14 points from special-teams and a defensive pick-six, it was the offense that had to come to life. And while they have not scored a single offensive touchdown in the second-half this year, the 49ers broke that trend with WR Stevie Johnson as he caught a 12-yard pass from QB Colin Kaepernick. Mix that with 49ers workhorse RB Frank Gore as he had 24 carries for 119 yards and one reception for 55 yards (touchdown) and you have a recipe for success.
The 49ers would then go on to score six more unanswered points as K Phil Dawson was on-point going a perfect 4-for-4 including 29, 51, 46, and 31-yard field-goals. The 13 unanswered points to end the game would ultimately be the determining factor in winning the game, as the 49ers won a close one 26-21 as they held the Eagles on a crucial goal-line stand. 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh asked how his defense performed today, “a real gem,” Harbaugh said.