Let’s all be honest, after Josh Johnson was injured this was not a proper game. But, the Eagles’ defense played well when the 49ers’ offense did have a quarterback and the Eagles’ pass rush was the reason why the 49ers lost both of their quarterbacks. I enjoyed this defensive performance a lot and I really think Jonathan Gannon has done a good job since Week 1 (you guys know I always defend him) so I was happy to see him (seemingly) announce he is staying.
This was a brutal offensive performance for the 49ers. The Eagles’ defense dominated them in every phase and it’s excellent to see the Eagles' run defense continue to be very good.
I took some heat on Twitter for this opinion but I watched every snap and I saw a fair few occasions where James Bradberry was beaten by Brandon Aiyuk or another 49ers skill player. Bradberry is an outstanding zone corner in quads but can have some trouble at times when matched up one-on-one with a really good receiver. I expect the Chiefs to isolate Travis Kelce on Bradberry’s side a few times but I would hope the Eagles provide some help to that side because the Chiefs don’t have a receiver that scares me. Luckily for all the Eagles’ defensive backs, sometimes their job is made a lot easier because the Eagles’ pass rush is nuts. Haason Reddick was on a mission early in this game and this play basically won the Eagles the game.
#2 Reddick saves a big completion here. Bradberry had a tough game against Aiyuk who beat him quite a few times. Luckily, the Eagles pass rush dominated the 49ers so it didn't matter a great deal. Reddick vs. a tight end is only ever going to end one way... pic.twitter.com/RrPGTSlO32— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 31, 2023
I have no idea at all what Kyle Shanahan was trying to do with Reddick but it didn’t work. The explosiveness he shows is off the charts and you can’t block like with anyone other than a tackle (and probably some help from a tight end/running back). Reddick absolutely wrecked the 49ers’ offense early on in this game. You can also see some aggressive single-high man coverage from the Eagles here. The Eagles' go-to defense on 3rd and long is still their quads (or cover 4, zone match, whatever you want to call it) but they run a lot more single-high on early downs in order to prevent quick throws and I think the Eagles’ defense as a whole is just a lot more aggressive than it was last year.
#3 I don't have numbers on this, but I'd bet the Eagles are outstanding against play-action this year. I can't remember a lot of big plays against them. Shanahan got bored using a tight end to block Reddick so he thought he'd ask a WR to help out too. Reddick is too explosive... pic.twitter.com/nahY3qlUFU— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 31, 2023
However, this game was not about the Eagles’ pass coverage. This game was about the Eagles’ pass rush. The Eagles have so, so many good pass rushers it is ridiculous. There is simply no way any offensive line will be able to feel good about every matchup on a play-by-play basis. Javon Hargrave has been a little bit quieter of late but he is still capable of dominating matchups when left one-on-one with a guard.
#4 Even when the 49ers had a proper QB, the pass rush was ruining their pass game. It felt like every defensive lineman had a splash play. I've sort of forgotten about Hargrave of late but look at the speed & hand quickness here. You can't double everyone! pic.twitter.com/mdfO9mF24J— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 31, 2023
This play shocked me. I did not expect to see Brandon Graham bull-rushing all-pro left tackle Trent Williams back into the quarterback.. but here we are! BG is playing really well and the reduced snap count is paying dividends for him at this stage of his career. He is still an excellent pass rusher and when your 3rd best edge defender can beat the opposition’s all-pro tackle, then your defense is in a very good place.
#5 Is that Brandon Graham bullrushing first time all-pro Trent Williams? When your best pass protector can't handle the Eagles 4th best pass rusher then it's hard to run a dropback pass game. The Eagles pass rush is insanely good and it's awesome to watch BG balling out still pic.twitter.com/0EvV188z59— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 31, 2023
Did you read the stats preview for this game? If you did, you knew this was coming because I highlighted George Kittle as the X-Iso receiver as one of the key matchups! This is an unbelievable route by Kittle and I think we would have seen more of this if the Eagles' pass rush didn’t dominate the 49ers’ offensive line up front. I will add as well, I thought both Bradberry and Slay were really aggressive in coverage because they knew the Eagles’ pass rush would win so they could get aggressive at the line of scrimmage. This is the benefit of playing behind an outstanding pass rush.
#8 As I mentioned earlier, Bradberry had a tough game. This is a heck of a route & Kittle beats him pretty well. I expect the Chiefs to target Bradberry in single coverage by putting trips on the other side. Expect to see some Kelce vs. Bradberry in a couple of weeks... pic.twitter.com/X0e08NXfaB— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 31, 2023
So we have seen outstanding plays from Reddick, Hargrave, and Brandon Graham. Milton Williams can do it too! If he starts adding pass-rushing ability to his game then he is going to be an excellent 3-technique next year. He has all the attributes to be really, really good next year and I can’t wait to see his role increase.
#9 You know your pass rush depth is good when you can get this rep from your backup 3 technique. He looks like a mini Hargrave at times with his explosiveness and speed. Milton Williams impresses every week. pic.twitter.com/kUfOCEjQ3v— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 31, 2023
Did you think we were done there with the pass rush? Oh no. The Eagles' 5th (or 6th) best defensive tackle can also do this and knock out the team's starting quarterback. I don’t care if Brock Purdy, Jimmy G, or Trey Lance were playing quarterback in this game, the 49ers were not going to score a lot of points unless they started blocking the Eagles’ pass rushers in this game. The Eagles dominated the trenches on both sides of the ball.
#10 Just when you think you've seen all the good pass rushers... Along comes Suh and knocks out your backup QB! How many teams have this much depth?! The backup defensive line has BG/Suh/Williams/Quinn. That's a decent starting line!! The Eagles pass rush won them this game. pic.twitter.com/YkddAiVKGB— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 31, 2023
As a final side-note, I don’t even mention Darius Slay in a lot of these pieces because he’s reached the elite level where offenses barely target him and we don’t really either. Reddick will rightly get the headlines, but Slay has had an outstanding year.
This is not the same old Eagles’ defense we have seen before under Jonathan Gannon. I’ve been saying for weeks, this team is not content to just give up short runs anymore. On early downs, the Eagles' 5-man front is aggressive against the run. The Eagles were aggressive against the 49ers' 21 personnel and played their 5-2 defense a lot which is essentially their base defense. Linval Joseph was a great signing and every single Eagles defender is now working to stop the run. Even Darius Slay is avoiding Trent Williams and making a play on the ball carrier! I can’t believe Slay made this play and massive credit to him. I thought Kyzir White was good against the run and TJ Edwards did what TJ Edwards always does.
Eagles defense all22 thread vs. 49ers. #1 Gone are the days when the Eagles D passively allows short runs to burn them. This defense has been aggressive against the run with these early 5 man fronts for a long time now. pic.twitter.com/ywwfEuA1Ru— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 31, 2023
Yes, the rushing touchdown by CMC was terrible defense. Yes, I know Marcus Epps should not dive this low. Yes, CGJ should wrap up the tackle better. Yes, I know it’s a bad play from the Eagles’ defense. I am glad lots of people pointed this out on Twitter to me! Maybe it’s the offensive mind in me, but I just watch this play and think of how good this is from CMC. It’s a ridiculous play. He is a top 2 running back in this league, and he’s not 2...
#6 I know from the Eagles point of view this sucks but... This run is ridiculous. CMC hurdles Epps then instantly jukes Slay and then handles the hit from CGJ. This is nuts. Sometimes you gotta say fair play. pic.twitter.com/zGgGAQVEj8— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 31, 2023
Anyway, back to some good team defense from the Eagles. The Eagles 5-man fronts worked really well against Shanahan’s wide zone running plays and also stopped the easy rollouts which they love to use. This is just fantastic team defense. I had concerns about Reddick’s run defense before the season, but he’s been a really good run defender this year too. Here he sets the edge perfectly, Linval Joseph stops the inside cutback and Josh Sweat cleans up. It’s just good run defense!
#7 This is great team defense. Reddick sets the edge well and Joseph wins inside and stops the inside cutback. CMC has no choice but to cut all the way back across but Sweat does his job too! The Eagles 5-man front is not easy to run on and Joseph was a great signing. pic.twitter.com/bAIt4qEmzc— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 31, 2023
He barely played, but I’m adding this play because I enjoy watching Reed Blankenship play football. Add him to the list of players I am excited to watch over the next few years. This Eagles team is built to win now and has a lot of veterans, but it also has some exciting young talent that I can’t wait to watch. Howie Roseman has done such a good job building this team.
#11 And let's end with Reed Blankenship because he barely played but his instincts and aggressiveness are just awesome to watch. He's probably going to have a Marcus Epps career trajectory and will be a fine starter in the future. pic.twitter.com/gAaLOQ5gPj— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 31, 2023
That will do for this week. This may have felt a bit too easy in the second half, but the Eagles’ defense does deserve credit for their game plan going into the game and how dominant the defensive line was. Bring on the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes!