It was home sweet home until Sunday night came around.
After two weeks on the east coast, the San Francisco 49ers (2-2) returned to Santa Clara for the first of three straight home games. Sunday night they faced off against the Philadelphia Eagles (1-2-1) in prime time.
The 49ers offense struggled mightily against the Eagles defense, handing three turnovers to Philadelphia and helping them mount a late-game comeback for a 25-20 win.
Aside from George Kittle (15 rec, 183 yards, 1 TD) and Jerick McKinnon (14 carries, 54 yards, 1 TD, 7 rec, 43 yards), the 49ers offense showed little rhythm or precision. QB Jimmy Garoppolo was sidelined for a second consecutive week, which gave Nick Mullens another starting nod. The 49ers were slowly getting healthier, with the return of two big offensive weapons in TE George Kittle and WR Deebo Samuel.
The 49ers deferred, kicking off to begin the game. Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense began from the 25-yard line.
Two running plays and an incomplete pass resulted in a quick three-and-out on the Eagles opening drive.
It didn’t go much better for the 49ers. Two incomplete passes, one being an overthrow of a wide-open Kyle Juszczyk that could have resulted in an 80+ yard touchdown. A third-down pass to Kittle was a yard short of the first down. A three and out for the 49ers.
The Eagles, with the help of a 49ers penalty, dinked and dunked their way to midfield on their second drive. A 20-yard completion from Wentz into 49ers territory was followed by an interception from LB Azeez Al-Shaair.
An offensive penalty, a short run, and a sack set up a 3rd-and-24 for Mullens and the 49ers offense. They would follow with a punt two plays later.
The 49ers defense nearly forced a three-and-out, instead called for pass interference. The Eagles converted a couple of first downs approaching midfield.
A run from Miles Sanders, followed by a long catch and run by Sanders, set the Eagles up on the 49ers 11-yard line. A QB run from Wentz scored the games’ first touchdown. A successful two-point conversion gave the Eagles an 8-0 lead.
Welcome back George Kittle. The 49ers TE caught back to back passes on the teams next drive. A reverse run to Samuel, and a handoff to Kittle moved the 49ers into Eagles territory.
The 49ers defense forced a three and out shortly after the end of the first quarter.
A short run from McKinnon was followed by a screen pass to Kittle that resulted in a first down, and a face mask penalty called on the Eagles. The 49ers moved into Eagles territory.
An incomplete pass and a sack resulted in 3rd-and-17 for Mullens. A short pass to McKinnon was snuffed out by the Eagles defense. A punt for the 49ers.
The 49ers defense has had issues containing quarterback runs. On the Eagles next drive, Wentz got loose for a first down. Two short passes later, the Eagles were at midfield.
After the game, Arik Armstead talked about the defensive line’s struggles to contain Wentz:
“Obviously he’s an athletic quarterback, strong in the pocket. It takes a lot to get him down. It takes a team effort to get him down, he was able to move around out there, and hurt us with his feet at times. We gotta correct that moving forward.”
On 3rd-and-1 the 49ers defense forced an Eagles false-start penalty. The 3rd-and-6 pass was incomplete, forcing an Eagles punt.
McKinnon carried for a short gain before a 17-yard catch and run from Samuel gave the 49ers a first down. Another run from McKinnon set up a 3rd-and-6 for the 49ers.
Samuel was happy to be back on the football field:
“Just being out there with the guys, and getting back in the flow of the game, it’s been like four months. Today was my first time getting hit so it was kind of cool. Just to get back out there with the guys was just a blessing.”
The 49ers offense really missed Kittle these past couple of weeks. A deep pass into Eagles territory, caught by Kittle, gave the 49ers a first down from the Eagles 17-yard line. That pass good for 38 yards.
Facing pressure, Mullens panicked and threw an interception in the red zone. The Eagles took over at their own 27-yard line with 2:40 remaining in the first half.
Mullens talked about why it was so difficult for him to get into a rhythm Sunday night:
“That’s a good question, and I’m kind of wondering that myself. We had plenty of opportunities, and I really just didn’t execute. The way i’m feeling is pretty black-and-white right now. I just didn’t execute, and that’s all it really comes down to. Three turnovers, 14 points for them off turnovers. That’s really about it, didn’t execute.”
The Eagles quickly moved to midfield before a wild snap, recovered back at their own 38-yard line brought up 2nd-and-27. A big sack from 49ers DL D.J. Jones gave the Eagles another loss of yards, 3rd-and-34.
Backup QB Jalen Hurts scrambled for 14 yards, forcing an Eagles punt. This meant that the 49ers had 1:03 left to take the lead, starting from their own 5-yard line.
The 49ers weren’t even going to attempt to march 95 yards down the field in that little of time. They ran out the remainder of the clock to trail 8-7 at the half.
Mullens and the 49ers offense received the opening kickoff to begin the third quarter.
McKinnon carried for nine yards to begin the drive. Two plays later, a pass to Aiyuk gave the 49ers a first down. The offense marched its way to midfield before McKinnon rushed and caught a pass, giving the 49ers a first down from the Eagles 37-yard line.
Two plays later, Kittle caught a pass over the middle. The 49ers were approaching the red-zone. A shovel pass to Jeff Wilson Jr. for 13 yards set up a 1st down from the 10-yard line.
After a couple of small gains, a pass to Kittle in the back of the end zone gave the 49es the lead. They now led 14-8 after the extra point.
It took two plays for the Eagles to approach midfield on their following drive. They moved into 49ers territory with another first down conversion. A few plays later, the 49ers forced a 4th-and-1 from their own 31-yard line.
A dive over the middle from Wentz gave the Eagles a new set of downs. The Eagles creeped their way into the red zone and faced a 3rd-and-8 from the 49ers 17-yard line. An incomplete pass brought on the field goal unit. The kick was good, and the 49ers lead was trimed to 14-11 with one minute left in the third quarter.
The 49ers sputtered all night on offense. They took over from their own 25-yard line looking to pull away from the Eagles as the fourth quarter loomed.
A beautiful sideline catch from Kittle for 20 yards moved the 49ers to midfield quickly. At this point in the game, Kittle had caught 10 passes for 128 yards and a TD.
The fourth quarter was underway. Mullens was immediately sacked for a loss of 12 yards. McKinnon caught a pass for five yards, and the 49ers were faced with 3rd-and-17. Another pass to McKinnon, this time for 10 yards, was not enough for the first down. Another punt for the 49ers.
McKinnon discussed why the Eagles defense was so difficult:
“They did what we thought they would. Their [defensive line] was good, their linebackers, they stepped up really fast. They have a good defense, they have good players. DL Fletcher Cox, DL [Brandon] Graham, some guys in that secondary. Hats off to them, they played well. They did enough to come out with a win.”
A strong showing from the 49ers defense on the first couple plays of the Eagles next drive. Faced with a 3rd-and-8, the Eagles punted from their own 6-yard line after a sack from 49ers CB Jamar Taylor, who replaced an injured K’Waun Williams.
The 49ers began their next drive from the 44-yard line.
A run for no gain and incomplete pass brought up 3rd-and-10. Mullens ended up fumbling on third down, recovered by the Eagles in 49ers territory. It was getting ugly for the 49ers offense.
Following the loss, Shanahan discussed the team’s struggles on offense:
“I was expecting us to come out and play good. We missed a few [plays] at the beginning and a couple of opportunities. When we did get it going finally, i thought we hit a bump when we had that turnover in the red zone…We had a couple of opportunities we missed, and the ones we went for, we got way too many negative plays. I wouldn’t say I thought it was a let-down with our guys energy or anything, but we definitely didn’t play well today.”
The Eagles offense failed to convert on 3rd-and-6, forcing a 4th-and-4 attempt that resulted in a first down catch to the 49ers 27-yard line.
A reverse run was snuffed out by the 49ers, a loss of 12 yards for the Eagles. A 17-yard pass from Wentz, paired with a 49ers penalty on defense gave the Eagles a first down from the 34-yard line. Hurts received the snap at quarterback, a bad snap that resulted in a loss of eight yards.
A deep pass downfield from Wentz to WR Travis Fulgham for 42 yards gave the Eagles the TD they needed. The extra-point made this an 18-14 Eagles lead.
With 5:50 left in the game, Mullens and the 49ers offense needed a touchdown badly.
Disaster struck. Mullens threw an ugly, and i mean ugly, pick-six on the first play of the drive. The Eagles now led 25-14.
Mullens was immediately benched for third string QB C.J. Beathard. A change at quarterback seemed to work, because the 49ers marched down the field quickly on four passes from Beathard.
Inside the red zone, Beathard was sacked for a loss of nine yards. An offsides penalty called on the Eagles defense gave the 49ers a first down from the 17-yard line. A pass to Aiyuk for a first down moved the ball inside the 5-yard line.
It had been over a year since Beathard’s last game action. He talked about how he was able to step in and perform so well under pressure:
“Honestly I just give credit to me being in my fourth year in the system. It’s night and day compared to last time I was in there playing in the regular season. It just feels comfortable, the more you go through the plays, the more you learn the offense, it just gets a lot more comfortable.”
A short pass to Kendrick Bourne from the 3-yard line was a few inches short of the goal line. McKinnon came on to finish the job, a one-yard touchdown run.
The resulting two-point conversion attempt failed. The 49ers trailed 25-20 with 2:02 left in the game. They needed their defense to force a turnover or a quick three-and-out.
An onside kick attempt failed, giving the Eagles the ball at the 49-yard line.
A short run brought on the two-minute warning, acting as an extra timeout for the 49ers, who had two remaining. Another run snuffed out by the 49ers defensive line. 3rd-and-9 for the Eagles.
A sack! The 49ers defense did exactly what they needed to, forcing a quick Eagles punt. This game wasn’t over yet.
The 49ers got the ball back, down five, with 1:40 left in the game. They began their final drive from the 12-yard line.
False start. Called for a penalty, the 49ers were backed up to the 7-yard line. A pass to Bourne for 20 yards moved the 49ers to the 27-yard line. A pass to Kittle for 13 yards, followed by a pass to McKinnon and another pass to Kittle gave the 49ers a 2nd-and-10 from their own 45-yard line.
At midfield with 34 seconds left, a pass to Kittle over the middle was clocked at the Eagles 32-yard line with 17 seconds remaining.
Beathard threw an incomplete pass out of bounds. On 3rd-and-10 another incomplete pass brought on a do-or-die 4th-and-10 with seven seconds left.
A pass to the end zone, broken up. No late-game magic for the 49ers in Week 4. A frustrating loss in prime time.
Following the 49ers heartbreaking 25-20 loss to the Eagles, they will remain in Santa Clara as they welcome the Miami Dolphins (1-3) in Week 5.