They didn’t just come in and beat the Eagles.
They embarrassed the Eagles.
Which was their goal.
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The Eagles have been living life on the edge all year, and it caught up with them Sunday at the Linc in a humiliating 42-19 loss to the cackling, trash-talking, cheap-shotting 49ers.
Here’s our 10 Instant Observations from a miserable day at the Linc.
1. That big giant 42 really sticks out. Hey, the Eagles’ defense has been held together with duct tape all year, but they kept finding ways to beat good teams and shut down good quarterbacks when they had to and all the points and yards allowed and bottom-10 rankings didn’t seem so important because they were a 10-1 team that knew how to win. So you just shrugged it all off. But 42 points? At home? In a huge game against a budding rival with playoff enormous implications? Against a team that’s been talking trash since February? That’s embarrassing? After a couple 3-and-outs to open the game, the 49ers scored touchdowns on six straight drives – 85 yards, 90 yards, 75 yards, 77 yards, 75 yards and 48 yards. The Eagles didn’t put up a fight. Last time a playoff-bound Eagles team allowed 42 points at home in a meaningful game was 2009 against the Saints. This shouldn’t happen. It can’t happen. But it did happen. And this wasn’t a fluke. This isn’t a very good defense right now. On Sunday, it was awful.
2. Can someone explain to me why Jalen Hurts – after undergoing a concussion test – was still playing in the final four minutes with the 49ers up 42-19? That’s insanity. Are we padding his stats now? Even Jalen Hurts doesn’t have a 24-point play in his back pocket. That made no sense.
3. Deebo Samuel is the kind of villain you hate the most because he didn’t just trash talk, he backed it all up. Samuel is not having a particularly good year, but he cackled his way to a career game against the Eagles Sunday with 138 scrimmage yards and TDs of 12, 46 and 48 yards. And it wasn’t just Deebo vs. Bradberry. Nobody on the Eagles’ defense came close to stopping Deebo. Was he even touched? Was he even tackled all day? This was Deebo stomping all over the Eagles, and they couldn’t do anything to stop him.
4. I can’t for the life of me understand why D’Andre Swift disappears for long periods of time. This is a guy who’s fifth in the NFL in scrimmage yards per game, was on pace for over 1,500 scrimmage yards going into Sunday’s game and had the 8th-highest rushing average by a running back at 4.8 yards per carry. Swift got his fourth carry of the game with a minute left in the first quarter with the Eagles up 6-0 and didn’t touch the ball again until 3 ½ minutes into the third quarter, and by then they trailed 21-6. He only got two more carries the rest of the game. That’s inexcusable. You’re not going to beat a team like the 49ers without establishing some sort of running game, and the Eagles just never did it. Never even tried.
5. The Eagles came into the game as the hottest red-zone team in the NFL. After ranking 23rd in the red zone through seven games with 47 percent of drives finishing with a touchdown, they had converting 87 percent of their red-zone drives into touchdowns from the Dolphins game through the Bills game. Then they drive down to the 8 and the 14 on their first two drives and have to settle for field goals. They had a 6-0 lead, but you know what they say about first-half field goals. They get you beat. Through the first quarter, the Eagles had outgained the 49ers 124 to negative-6, but they only led by six and based on the way they played it didn’t seem like enough. They dominated early but couldn’t turn that domination into more than a six-point lead. I felt that was really the Eagles’ opportunity to take command of the game, but they just couldn’t do it. And you could just feel the momentum swing over to the 49ers. The Eagles never recovered.
6. That the Eagles went into a game against an offense like the 49ers with three linebackers that they’ve already released – Nicholas Morrow, Christian Ellis and Ben VanSumeren – tells you just how dire their linebacker situation is. Not that they had much of a choice. Zach Cunningham has played really well this year and should be back for the Cowboys. Morrow has been fine. Ellis had an impossible task Sunday in his first NFL start. VanSumeren is really just a special teamer at this point. Nakobe Dean probably won’t be back this year and wasn’t playing well when he got hurt. How much of that was related to his foot injuries? Hard to tell. But Morrow and Cunningham aren’t signed beyond this year and Ellis and VanSumeren are high-effort but undrafted guys who probably won’t become full-time starters. Maybe the Eagles will bring in Shaq Leonard, but he wasn’t playing well for the Colts and is coming off some serious back injuries and would probably be a one-year stop-gap anyway. And a position that’s been unsettled around here forever is unsettled again. This game illustrated what we already knew. The Eagles have to get a lot better at linebacker.
7. This is three straight games the Eagles have trailed by a touchdown or more at halftime. Ten points in K.C., 10 points vs. the Bills, 15 points Sunday. That hadn’t happened since 1995 and before that 1982 and before that 1976. Great comebacks the last two weeks, but you can’t keep putting yourself in that position. At some point the bad starts are going to catch up with you and they did Sunday. Have the Eagles played a complete game this year? Tampa? Maybe the Rams? Good for the Eagles coming back from 10 points down against the Chiefs and Bills, but you can’t keep winning like that. Nobody can.
8. The Eagles’ run defense, a strength of this team not too long ago, has become a huge concern. The Eagles allowed 66 rushing yards per game through the Dallas game, but after allowing 168 in K.C., 173 to the Bills and 146 Sunday to the 49ers, they’ve now allowed 162 per game the last three weeks. More than double what they were allowing. This is more than just missing Zach Cunningham. And it’s more than just being gassed after a Monday night game in Kansas City and an overtime game last Sunday against the Bills with some astronomical snap counts. The Eagles have gotten gashed on the ground three weeks in a row. Just one more thing to fix.
9. Don’t let any 49ers fans tell you that, OK, the Eagles won last year, the 49ers won this year, now the two teams are even. Just stop. There is a slight difference between an NFC Championship Game that determines who goes to the Super Bowl and a regular-season game that the 49ers needed more than the Eagles anyway, were much more rested for and healthier for. Two really good teams and still a whole lot yet to be decided before Vegas.
10. How bad was this? This was only the fifth time in franchise history that a playoff-bound Eagles team – and we’ll assume the Eagles are still going to be a playoff team – has allowed 42 points in a home game. That’s how rare this sort of defensive performance is. Two of those games were in 1947 – a 45-42 win over Washington at Philadelphia Municipal Stadium (JFK) and a 45-21 loss to the Cards at Shibe Park a few weeks later – and then that 48-22 Saints game in 2009 and a 42-30 loss to the Chiefs in 2021. And that’s it.