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On Sunday afternoon the 49ers found their identity. They rode a dominant defensive performance and the legs of Frank Gore to a 26-21 come from behind victory to reach the quarter pole of the 2014 season with a record of 2-2.
Let's get to the answers for the 5 burning questions that I asked on Friday.
1) Can the 49ers avoid penalties? - No. They were still penalized 10 times for 80 yards. The big difference is that for the first time this season the defense did not allow a first down as the result of a penalty. This played an important role in the defense being able to consistently get off the field for the first time all season.
2) Will the defense start to trust the man next to them? - Absolutely Yes. The 49ers defense played great football against the Eagles. Not only did they shut out an offense that came into the game scoring at least 30 points in the first three games this season, they didn't allow the Eagles to cross midfield until only 5 minutes remained in the game.
3) Will the 49ers look to establish the run game? - No and Yes. It was a tale of two halves offensively for the 49ers. In the first half they came out and called 24 passes on 38 snaps, and one of those plays was at the end of the half when they took a kneel down.
In the second half the 49ers called 24 runs on 37 snaps. As a result the offense looked much more in sync and they scored their first touchdown in the second half of the game all season.
When the 49ers get Frank Gore involved in the game good things happen.
4) Can the defense put pressure on Nick Foles? - Yes. The 49ers took advantage of a banged up Eagles offensive line and pressured Foles throughout the game. Foles dropped back to throw 45 times on Sunday and faced pressure on 14 of those plays, or 31% of his attempts. That's nearly a ten percent increase over their average from the first three weeks.
One change that we saw yesterday was Aaron Lynch replacing Corey Lemonier as the rush end on passing downs. Lynch rewarded the coaches by registering 2 quarterback hurries, and 2 quarterback hits on the day. In addition, Lynch showed off his athleticism when he ran down Darren Sproles for a 4 yard loss on a pass play late in the game.
5) Will the 49ers finally play a full 4 quarters? - Yes and No. The 49ers offense and defense did, but their special teams looked like they missed their wake up call. For the first time since 1965 the 49ers gave up three touchdowns without one being allowed by the defense. A special teams unit that is usually among the best in the league has allowed two blocked kicks and a punt return for a touchdown over the last two weeks.
* When the 49ers started their second drive of the second half from the Eagles 23 yard line after Perrish Cox recovered a Zach Ertz fumble, it marked the first time since the first half of the Bears game that the 49ers started a possession on the opponents side of the 50.
* The 49ers improved to 5-5 (including postseason) when Colin Kaepernick attempts at least 30 passes in a game. They are 18-5 when Kaepernick attempts less than 30 passes in a game.
* Frank Gore's 174 yards of total offense is the most he's had in a single game since he put up 182 total yards in a week 7 win over Seattle in 2012.
* The often maligned Jimmie Ward had a good game yesterday. The rookie slot corner gave up 3 catches for a total of 17 yards, with a long of 8 yards.
* The 49ers offensive line finished with a combined -4.4 grade from ProFootballFocus. The only 49ers offensive lineman with a positive pass protection grade through the first 4 weeks is Jonathan Martin.
* The Eagles targeted Jeremy Maclin ten times when he was lined up against Perrish Cox. He was limited to two receptions for 26 yards.
Prediction Time: 49ers 26 Eagles 24
Missed it by that much.