Injured and woefully undermanned, the 49ers had no chance against the now 7-1 Eagles in Philadelphia. The loss was a franchise-record eight straight to start the season. The 49ers fell 33-10 and were simply undone by a stunning stream of injuries, gritty yet underwhelming quarterback play, and of course, a key bad call that went against them in the first half.
The 49ers were already injured going in into the game, without starters Reuben Foster (ankle, ribs), Arik Armstead (hand), Tank Carradine (ankle), and Trent Brown (concussion), sustained more injuries early in the game. Free safety Jimmie Ward left early with a forearm injury and was immediately declared out, which makes you fear he might have broken something.
Later, right tackle Garry Gilliam, who was substituting for Brown, left with a knee injury when he was submarined by Eagles’ safety Malcolm Jenkins. After that, left tackle Joe Staley crumbled to the Lincoln Field turf on a interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Jalen Mills.
Staley emerged with a significant gash under his right eye and left the game. Staley’s eye swelled to the point of closing, and he couldn’t return. Apparently he was blasted by defensive tackle Fletcher Cox while trying to chase Mills. The team also lost D.J. Jones to an undisclosed injury.
In the second half, first-round pick Solomon Thomas exited with a knee injury. The team might have to not only sign more players, but also more trainers for all these recuperating players.
Quarterback C.J. Beathard didn’t play well behind the avalanche of injuries. He consistently threw behind his targets and then found himself darting behind porous pass protection. By the end of the first half, the team had guard Zane Beadles playing left tackle, and rookie free-agent Eric Magnuson on the right.
Magnuson had no idea how to contend with Eagles pass rusher Brandon Graham.
By the end of the first half, Beathard had thrown two interceptions, one on a tipped pass when he threw behind receiver Aldrick Robinson, and another when he fired a pass late for Pierre Garcon. That pass was easily intercepted by Mills, who weaved through a gasping 49ers’ offense for a touchdown.
The 49ers did manage to eke out some highlights, including a third quarter touchdown set up by an interception from rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspon. Coach Kyle Shanahan, who sensed a blitz, directed Beathard to flip a shovel pass to rookie free agent running back Matt Brieda.
Brieda scored easily on the 21-yard play. The 49ers had a glimmer of hope at 20-7. The Eagles then squashed the glimmer with a 51-yard touchdown pass from Wentz to Alshon Jeffrey. He beat Witherspoon, who never looked back for the ball.
The 49ers came back early in the fourth quarter with another promising drive, however it fizzled when Derek Barnett blocked a 27-yard field goal. He got inside of Leger Douzable, who was probably blocking on the field goal unit for the first time because of injuries.
The referees, of course, didn’t help, with a questionable call against cornerback Dontae Johnson in the end zone. He knocked the ball away from former 49er Torrey Smith on what looked like a clean play.
The defense played surprisingly well, with players signed less than three weeks ago, getting in the face of MVP candidate Carson Wentz. The Eagles quarterback was sacked by Douzable, who signed last week before the loss to Dallas.
Wentz didn’t play like MVP in the soggy conditions; he missed two open receiver for touchdowns with high passes.
The injury-ravaged defense couldn’t maintain an edge against the offensively potent Eagles. The 49ers were left to fly across country with abundance of ice bags for their battered players. Coaches and the scouting department will now have to scramble to field enough healthy bodies for the team’s home game against the Cardinals, which was a winnable game if the team had stayed halfway healthy.