Well, it wasn't really safe travels for the one-time undefeated Eagles. While it seemed like the team's shakiness would eventually catch up to them, this game really cemented that they can't just depend on the fourth quarter to save themselves. The offense was putrid outside of Jeremy Maclin, with the run game being once-again non-existent and Nick Foles playing his worst game of the season. The passer went from a top three career performance to a bottom three in the span of a week.
It really is a shame that the offense couldn't deliver, as special teams was absolutely FANTASTIC (outside of some less-than-desirable punts). The defense also played well given the fact that they were on the field for a ridiculous amount of time due to the offense's struggles.
As you can guess, there wasn't much to love here but let's get to it.
Special Teams: Trey Burton (h/t Dan Klausner) has become extremely reliable on special teams and at this point, he looks to have a role with the team for a long time. Darren Sproles has had two rough offensive outings in a row, but his punt return ability was fantastic. I was at the game working on a fan experience piece and I was in that end zone that he strutted into against the 49ers. He is just so fun to watch.
Pass Rush: While part of the success in hitting the quarterback was Colin Kaepernick's style of play, the Eagles defense was all over him. Four sacks against a good team is something to hang your hat on. Vinny Curry, Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham really disrupted Kaepnerick. I thought blitzes worked out for the most part as well. I thought Emmanuel Acho played very well.
Jeremy Maclin: This guy is the man. He made an unreal catch in the fourth quarter and really played well. He was targeted a bunch. He had four catches for 57 yards on a day that was just a mess on offense.
Malcolm Jenkins: This guy has been fantastic. Three interceptions in three games is ridiculous. If the Eagles would have won the game, the pick six would have been his third game-saving play in as many games. How's Jairus Byrd doing? Glad you asked:
Bad angle taken by Jairus Byrd on DeMarco Murray TD catch, part II. pic.twitter.com/tcnLiqWRgN— Josh Katzowitz (@joshkatzowitz) September 29, 2014
Levi's Stadium: While NRG has become a part of Lincoln Financial Field's legacy, the new stadium in Santa Clara has really taken on the "green-friendly" initiative as well. As I mentioned earlier, I was at the stadium for a fan experience piece that will be up later in the week and I was given a tour of the stadium. It's beautiful and after talking to a lot of Eagles and 49ers fans at the game, folks seem to really dig the NRG bridges that separate the tailgating parking lot from the actual stadium and museum. There is like a moat or something under the bridges which essentially makes the stadium like a castle straight out of "The Lion and the Winter," but one that conserves energy. Oh and that stadium gets super, super loud. Tight work, 49ers.
Levi Stadium is beautiful but pretty subtle from the outside. pic.twitter.com/lG0ankCfRh— Mike Kaye (@mike_e_kaye) September 28, 2014
Traveling Fans: While the Eagles lost the game, they certainly showed up on the traveling scoreboard. Hundreds of folks traveled to the game as part of The Green Legion, which sends hundreds of fans to away games every year. I got to sit in on their event and team president Don Smolenski actually came by to thank folks for coming. It looked to be about 30-35% Eagles fans in Santa Clara and you could see fans walking around the streets of San Jose before and after the game. There was a massive turnout.
Nick Foles: This one was bad, no way around it. It isn't time to panic, but there have now been three pretty subpar performances in four games. Every time Foles looks like he is in the right, he tends to give doubters plenty of reason to point things out. He missed guys badly in the first half and couldn't make up for it in the second half. I think throwing 43 passes isn't his game, but when your run game is not there, you have to do something. That is no excuse as he won against the Redskins without a running game. I don't think he is anywhere near being benched, nor should he be, but it is likely starting to be a serious issue for play-calling.
Offensive Line: Yuck! Foles was getting pressured throughout the game and the running backs couldn't find holes with binoculars. It was a mess all-around outside of maybe Jason Peters.
LeSean McCoy: I am starting to buy the whole "there is something up with Shady" narrative. I am not sure if it's him exactly or that he doesn't trust his line to create holes. He has never been the most patient runner, but still it's becoming evident that he needs to greatly improve his game if the Eagles are to have any success. Not having a running game has made things rough on the defense, offense and likely the overall strategy of the team's game plan.
Riley Cooper, Zach Ertz & Brent Celek: The guys that were so dependable for Foles last season all had massive issues on Sunday. Ertz fumbled, which led to an easy 49ers touchdown, Brent Celek hasn't caught a pass since Week 1 and looks lethargic and Cooper was the worst of the bunch. Cooper dropped the game-winning touchdown pass from Foles, lost a fumble and failed to get yards after the catch. This trio has to improve or the Eagles have no shot moving forward.
Chip Kelly: While it's hard to blame the guy due what he had to work with, Kelly called a rough game. Accepting a penalty on defense late in the game was head scratching and the redzone offense was oddly-called. That said, Kelly is brilliant and everyone is due a rough game. His greatest strength (in my opinion) is the ability to bounce back or adjust, and he will more than likely do just that. Again, there is no reason to panic, 3-1 and the Rams are next on the list at home.
Whoever Pulled the Fire Alarm on Saturday Night: Not an excuse, but this was in really poor taste.