49ers report card
PASSING OFFENSE: B -- Quarterback Alex Smith continued to show development as both a passer and field general, absorbing increasing punishment as the day progressed but still managing to pass for a career-high 293 yards and avoid an interception for the third game in a row. Smith did fumble twice after being blindsided as the protection broke down at times once the Eagles knew all the 49ers were going to do was pass. He lost one of them for his first turnover of the season. Smith was sacked thre times and took at least 15 hits against an Eagles defense that kept coming relentlessly. Smith finished with career-high totals of 27 completions in 46 attempts and threw a touchdown pass for the third consecutive week while compiling a passer rating of 84.8. Tight end Eric Johnson emerged again in the offense with seven receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown. Antonio Bryant was relatively quiet, though a 53-yard gain was wiped out due to a penalty. Smith and Bryan Gilmore hooked up for a 75-yard reception that set up San Francisco's first touchdown. RUSHING OFFENSE: D-plus -- The 49ers rushed for 123 yards on 28 carries, including two 1-yard TD runs from Michael Robinson. But Frank Gore continued his disturbing trend of losing his grip on the ball. He fumbled on the goal line for the second consecutive game, and this one was returned 98 yards for a Mike Patterson touchdown. Gore now has lost fumbles in three consecutive games. He was stopped for no gain at the 1-yard line twice before coughing it up this time. Gore was injured on the play and spent the rest of the afternoon on the sidelines after gaining 52 yards on 16 carries. Smith slipped free from the pocket for a career-high 39 yards, showing a dimension in his game that hasn't been seen before. PASSING DEFENSE: D -- The 49ers had more coverage breakdowns in this game than the first two games combined. Eagles receivers were often left uncovered through blown coverages. The Eagles hooked up on a 50-yard gain on a "flea-flicker" on the first play, as safety Tony Parrish let Reggie Brown get behind him. Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb threw for 296 yards and two touchdowns. Shawntae Spencer had his poorest game of the season, and nickel back Sammy Davis allowed a 20-yard completion when the Eagles were facing a third-and-19 near midfield. Cornerback Walt Harris was solid again and forced his second fumble in three games. But the 49ers had just one pass defensed the entire game, and that came from a lineman when tackle Isaac Sopoaga knocked down a McNabb pass. RUSHING DEFENSE: D -- The 49ers did not show the strength to get off blocks and make plays while being handled up front by Philadelphia's veteran line. Brian Westbrook, in essence, put the game away with a 71-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, a play on which safety Mike Adams could not bring him down 35 yards from the end zone, taking a stiff arm to the face that knocked him off balance while Westbrook didn't even break stride. The line and linebackers had difficulty getting off blocks to make plays near the line of scrimmage. San Francisco linebackers were not much of a factor with 13 combined tackles from the four starters as the Eagles averaged a whopping 8.3 yards on their 18 carries. There also was poor effort to stop Westbrook on his 8-yard touchdown run that provided Philadelphia's final points early in the fourth quarter. SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Joe Nedney began the game in bad fashion with a kickoff out of bounds. Four plays later, the score was 7-0. The 49ers did not get much in the return game, but punter Andy Lee had a net 38.1-yard average and dropped two punts inside the 10-yard line. Nedney made a 48-yard field goal and the coverage teams were generally solid again. COACHING: D -- The 49ers made some offensive adjustments at halftime, allowing the offense to show some production and the defense to hold the Eagles to three three-and-outs in their five second-half possessions. But the first half was a disaster. The 49ers were not prepared for what Philadelphia hit them with and did not have answers to anything the Eagles did. Down by 21 points, coach Mike Nolan decided against going for it on fourth-and-1 from the Philadelphia 40-yard line. The 49ers ran out most of the final 50 seconds before punting.
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