The SF 49ers coughed up one of the uglier losses over the past year-plus, losing 25-20 to the underdog Eagles who frustrated Nick Mullens plenty in Week 4.
The SF 49ers hoped to keep Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz‘s early frustrations going in Week 4 on Sunday Night Football, looking to force the issue by going up against Philly’s banged-up crop of wide receivers.
It ultimately didn’t happen, though, as San Francisco let Philly hang around in the game, only to see the struggling Eagles take a lead late in the game en route to a 25-20 win over head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad from Levi’s Stadium.
The Niners were able to generate the first turnover of the game, picking off Wentz when linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair grabbed a deflected pass.
Wentz, who finished the game going 18-of-28 for 193 yards, one touchdown against an interception with a 81.4 passer rating, found himself under pressure a lot yet able to mostly evade the SF 49ers’ makeshift pass rush. A key difference, however, is Wentz’s abilities to extend plays and keep them alive.
One of Philadelphia’s prime objectives was to take advantage of San Francisco’s suspect offensive line, which it did early and often. SF 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens, starting in place of the still-injured Jimmy Garoppolo, found himself under regular pressure while under center, taking X sacks over the course of the game.
Wentz was under pressure a lot, too, yet he got Philly on the board first with an 11-yard scramble after a catch-and-run pass to running back Miles Sanders for 28 yards set it up.
The Eagles took the early 8-0 lead after successfully converting the two-point try.
Yet the Niners responded with a cleanly executed drive, culminating in a 38-yard rushing touchdown and one of the most impressive leaps over a defender you’ll see:
That made the score 8-7 in favor of Philadelphia, while Aiyuk finished the game with two receptions for 18 yards, 38 rush yards and a touchdown.
The Eagles took that lead into halftime after both teams’ offenses scuffled in the second quarter. Yet head coach Kyle Shanahan managed to settle things down, offensively, using running back Jerick McKinnon and tight end George Kittle to set up Kittle’s first touchdown of the season at the 8:26 mark of the third quarter. This gave San Francisco a 14-8 lead.
Philly responded with a field goal its following possession to make it 14-11.
A Mullens fumble with just under 10 minutes in regulation didn’t help matters either, as the Eagles resumed their offensive pushback against a banged-up Niners defense. And Philadelphia made it hurt, too, ending the following drive with a 42-yard touchdown pass from Wentz to unheard-of wide receiver Travis Fulgham to make it 18-14 in favor of the Eagles.
Mullens tossed his second pick of the night the following snap, which Philly took in for a pick-six touchdown to make it 25-14.
Shanahan benched Mullens in favor of C.J. Beathard to close out the game. Beathard showed a valiant effort to stage a comeback, but it ultimately fell short.
SF 49ers: Nick Mullens bombs in second start
Mullens’ first interception was particularly ugly. While the pass was intended for wide receiver Trent Taylor, Mullens’ off-balance throw ended up going into the waiting arms of Eagles safety Rodney McLeod.
It’s hard to figure out what Mullens was thinking on the pass:
Mullens’ night was 18-of-26 for 200 yards, a touchdown, two interceptions all for a 72.6 passer rating in relief of Garoppolo. About the only positive the second-string quarterback had throughout the game was targeting Kittle, which worked out pretty well.
It’s not likely fans will be clamoring for Mullens to take over Garoppolo’s starting job anytime soon after Sunday night.
SF 49ers sure missed George Kittle
After missing two games with a knee injury suffered in Week 1, Kittle’s return was highly anticipated and provided perhaps the only major upside for Shanahan and Co. in Week 4.
And he certainly delivered.
Kittle’s stat line included 15 catches for 183 yards and a touchdown all while looking like the extreme tough tackle he’s been over the course of his career. It’s pretty safe to say the game’s outcome would have been drastically different if Kittle was absent, especially considering how disjointed the vast majority of the SF 49ers offense was elsewhere on the field.
About his only gaffe was the dropped two-point attempt in San Francisco’s scramble to score late.
But what matters most is the Niners dropping to 2-2 after coughing up an ugly loss to a team they otherwise should have beat.
Oh, it matters to get Garoppolo back soon, too.