So there I was after shelling out over $300 for a pair of tickets sitting with my wife a devoted Eagles fan on our wedding anniversary as our teams squared off. I hoped for a close game, an exciting game, one we could remember and at the end of the day hopefully a 49ers victory. My last experience wasn’t such a good one the first half felt like déjà vu, my choice to attend this game had me almost depressed about my decision. Everything was going wrong for the 49ers even Punter Andy Lee had shanked his first 2 punts seemingly in an effort to avoid the Eagles explosive Return man Deshaun Jackson. Kicker David Akers in his return to Philadelphia missed a chip shot on the 49ers first possession after an impressive opening drive that would have put the 49ers on top 3-0.
It looked like a day where the 49ers wouldn’t catch any breaks. The passrush looked good, we got to the QuarterBack Michael Vick and would have had alot more sacks if it had been any other QB in the pocket. Only it was Vick back there and he used his super human ahtletisism and speed to dodge 49er defenders and almost always turned a would be sack into a long gain for the Eagles. The Eagles team speed with Vick and Receivers Jackson and Jeremy Maclin looked to be a huge problem for the team as the secondary gave up big play after big play through the air.
The second half was a different story all together….
The 49ers came out roaring in the 2nd half as the Eagles looked confident and relaxed with a packed crowd of Eagles fans it looked like it was just a matter of time until an Eagles victory was in the books. That was in everybody’s minds BUT the San Francisco 49ers, and that’s all that turned out to matter.
The Eagles helped the 49ers by not running much time on their possessions by continuing to put the ball in the air and missing not one but 2 fourth quarter FGs allowing the 49ers to stay in the game. A look at the games statistics doesn’t show a very good 49er defense but they got stops when they need them the most. Forcing a Ronnie Brown fumble on 3rd and goal from the 1, Navarro Bowman’s impressive pursuit of Vick on a 3rd and 3 carry forcing an Eagles punt. The front 7 was again stout against the run holding Eagles RB Leshaun McCoy to just 18 yards rushing. While Vick did carry the ball 8 times for 75 yards most of that can’t be held against the defense as Vick again and again avoided sacks and ran out of desperation as the secondary held tight coverage nobody but Vick makes most of those runs.
Michael Crabtree had a very productive game with 5 catches for 68 yards and looked very good blocking downfield for Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. Gore and Hunter shared carries giving the 49ers a 1-2 punch at RB that hasn’t been seen since Gore was 2005 when Gore shared the load with Kevan Barlow. Gore had a breakout game looking quick and fresh throughout the game carrying 15 times for 127 yards and the go ahead score. Both RBs demonstrated their explosive playmaking ability with plays over 40 yards as Gore broke off a long run on the games 1st possession and Hunter turned a screen pass into a 44 yard gain later.
Alex Smith had easily his most impressive game of the season throwing for just under 300 yards and 2 TDs. Smith got help from the offensive line that held up most of the day and allowed Smith to make more downfield attempts in this game than he has all season.
Head Coach Jim Harbaugh redeemed himself in a big way reversing the normal trend of the team playing well in the first half and then laying an egg in the 2nd. Harbaugh has also been criticized for his conservative game calling early in the season. This game proves to me that coach Harbaugh is revealing little by little what this team will be all about this season and that’s doing what it takes to win each week. This game had more personnel changes especially in the backfield than any other game of the season of offense and demonstrated the coaching staff’s ability to make adjustements at halftime and keep their team focused through adversity. My favorite call of the day was one that Alex Smith would later call “gutsy” on a third-and-7 with the 49ers trailing by one point with less than four minutes to play. Hunter got the call on a sweep to the left side. And picked up the first down on an huge play. Harbaugh later explained the call:
“We thought they were going to be bringing pressure in a man coverage and with that particular sweep, when you block down with two receivers, you usually get the coverage people to go with them, so you can get a two for one on that. That’s what we were hoping we’d get and we got. We were going to go for it on fourth had we not picked it up. It was a great call by Greg Roman.”
This was truly a team effort, one that took a little luck, alot of confidence and poise. The 49ers go to 3-1 and lead everybody in the division by 2 games and look like a legit playoff team after a great victory. After that ugly first half not many would have guessed this team would come out and put together the best comeback since 2002 playoffs vs. the Giants. I would have doubled that $300 glady if I would have had any idea I was about to witness such a fine performance. My wife on the other hand would like a refund, sorry honey, Happy Anniversary me.
On the injury front while WR Braylon Edwards and FB Moran Norris stayed in the Bay Area to rehad their injuries the last 2 weeks. Safety Donte Whitner, WR Michael Crabtree and RB Frank Gore appeared on the 49ers injury report as Questionable this Sunday. All 3 players dressed and Crabtree, Gore had impressive days and didn’t seem to be slowed by their injuries at all. Donte Whitner while he was dressed for the game did not make an appearance as the 49ers went with a S rotation of Dashon Goldson, Madeiu Williams and Reggie Smith.
Later I’ll post some pics from my experience at the game Sunday. I’d love to hear from anybody else that went to the game as well, how was your experience? And for everyone else watching at home, what do you think this victory says about our 2011 49ers?
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