How did the SF 49ers grade defensively against the Eagles and quarterback Carson Wentz?
In a shocking turn of events on Sunday Night Football, the SF 49ers fell to the previously winless Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 25-20.
That performance culminated in Mullens being pulled in the fourth quarter for C.J. Beathard. Down two scores with 5:30 left, Beathard led the SF 49ers down the field 75 yards for a touchdown. After the defense forced a 3-and-out on the ensuing possession, Beathard again led the 49ers down the field.
The game, however, ended with a Hail Mary pass from Beathard which was touched by a number of players before eventually falling to the turf and the clock striking 0:00.
The 49ers fell to 2-2.
Although there was some (backup) quarterback controversy, that doesn’t tell the whole story of this loss. How did the Niners defense grade out against the Eagles quarterback, Carson Wentz?
Against the run
Wentz is not known as a huge threat on the ground and does not have anywhere near the speed of fellow quarterbacks in the league like Lamar Jackson or Russell Wilson. For his career, he averages 14.9 yards per game and four yards per attempt. Against the 49ers, Wentz rushed seven times for 37 yards and one touchdown
He more than doubled his per-game rushing yardage average against the 49ers. Also, he averaged 5.3 yards per attempt for the game, above his career average as well.
The most damning attempt Wentz had against the 49ers, though, was his 11-yard run that scored a touchdown. On that attempt, he juked safety Jimmie Ward who fell to the ground. It was not something most expected from Wentz.
For their performance against him on the ground, the 49ers defense receives a grade of D-minus. Just the numbers alone aren’t awful, so the Niners don’t deserve a failing grade. But if looked at in the context of how the game itself was going, it was not a great look for the defense.
Against the pass
Wentz is known for his arm and his ability to make plays while in compromising situations in which many other quarterbacks would just throw the ball away or take a sack.
For his career, Wentz averages 252 passing yards per game and 6.8 yards per attempt. Against the 49ers he threw for 193 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. He also averaged 6.9 yards per attempt.
The yardage per attempt the 49ers defense allowed was right on point with Wentz’s average. But they actually held him quite a bit under his yards passing average. To further put that in perspective, one big play actually picked up a huge chunk of yards.
That was when Wentz hit wide receiver Travis Fulgham for a 42-yard touchdown. Fulgham had gotten slight separation from cornerback Dontae Johnson while streaking down the sideline and took the catch to the house.
Fulgham’s touchdown was even more deflating because it was the go-ahead touchdown that eventually put the Eagles up 18-14 at the 5:50 mark of the fourth quarter.
They never looked back from there.
For their performance against the pass, the 49ers defense gets a grade of C-plus. They held Wentz under his typical per-game yardage average, but the big play for his lone touchdown pass brings their grade down significantly.
For their overall grade against Wentz, the 49ers defense receives a C-plus. Overall, the Niners played well. But some big plays, most significantly on his two touchdowns (one rushing, one passing) changed the momentum and came at inopportune times.
The 49ers remain home at Levi’s Stadium for their next matchup with the Miami Dolphins. It is unclear whether the defense will be facing Ryan Fitzpatrick or rookie Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback.
But it’s clear that whoever they play, they will have to bring everything they’ve got to pull out a victory this time around.