Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Win over Eagles wasn’t always pretty, but could it help propel the 49ers to lofty heights?

Sep 19, 2021 at 3:28 PM--

There will be more than enough things for the San Francisco 49ers to dissect and criticize once they get a chance to review the film of their 17-11 road win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, but it was clear after the game that they couldn't have been happier about the fact they were able to come away from the East Coast with a victory.

And even though the 49ers still have their share of question marks after a 2-0 start to the season, it seems like they believe the win over the Eagles might wind up being the type of spark they need to have a highly successful run the rest of the way.

The 49ers were far from being at their best against the Eagles on Sunday, but they delivered key plays on offense, defense and special teams when it mattered most to put together a hard-fought win. They were outplayed for much of the first half but held the Eagles to a field goal before taking the lead right before halftime, then they pounded away at the Eagles' defense over the course of the second half to build a 17-3 lead before holding on for the victory. It was a decidedly different game than the season opener in Detroit against the Lions, which saw the 49ers jump out to a 41-17 lead only to get a scare at the end when the Lions rallied to cut the final score to 41-33, and not surprisingly, the locker room was a more jubilant place on Sunday than it was after getting the unwelcome scare in Detroit a week earlier.

"The hard ones are always the ones that mean the most," linebacker Fred Warner told reporters after the win over the Eagles. "Nothing in this league is easy or given. You've got to earn everything. That's what the message was before the game. We knew it was going to be a battle. They're a great team, just like we are. But I think we just won in those moments where it mattered. Obviously it's never perfect -- we can be so much better, and we're getting right back to work when we get back home."

It's not easy for a West Coast team to earn an East Coast road win under any circumstances, but the 49ers had to do it after being on the road for ten days. They chose to stay at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia after the Lions game rather than fly back to the Bay Area, which made for a long road trip to open the year. But they took care of business and now have two important wins under their belt as they head into their home opener against the Green Bay Packers next Sunday night (8:25 p.m. ET/5:25 p.m. PT, NBC).

"Anytime you're on the road for ten days, it's a lot on guys mentally and physically," tight end George Kittle said Sunday. "You're not in your routine. You're not at your home place, your own practice facilities, your own meeting rooms, stuff like that, so you get a little bit out of your routine. ...To grind it out in a grimy, dirty game like that and get the dub, you've got to have wins like that under your belt if you expect to have a good season."

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been on winning teams throughout his career, having won two Super Bowl rings during his days with the New England Patriots before being traded to the 49ers in 2017. Based on his experience, wins like the ones the 49ers had against the Lions (where they had to fight off a rally at the end) and the Eagles (where they overcame a shaky start and won with big plays in all phases of the game) are a sign that a fun season may be ahead.

"When you can win different ways like that, I think that makes for a good team," Garoppolo said Sunday. "I've been around this league for a little while now, and teams that can win different ways, whether it's offense, defense, or special teams stepping up, that makes for a good team."

Third-year defensive end Nick Bosa hasn't been in the NFL as long as Garoppolo and has only played in one full season after losing most of the 2020 campaign due to a torn ACL, but he's seen enough to feel like Sunday's win is a big deal.

"I've only had one year really that I played in and it's just the games like this where you find a way and you get a win before you head back home on an away trip -- that's what propels you to a great season, I think," Bosa said. "Hopefully that's the case. We're going to keep on working."

Of course, the 49ers have to make sure to keep their momentum going against the Packers next week. Otherwise, they'll be taking a step back after two steps in the right direction to start the season.

"You'd love for this one to be easier but we found a way to get a really tough win," 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said Sunday. "Going on these back-to-back road trips, I think we've won the last six of them and they're not easy. You go through some ups and downs and want to get home, but I'm really happy winning both of these two. We've got to make sure we don't have a let-up coming back because I think we have done that a little bit in the past after being on the road twice. You remind the guys to get some rest these next two days, but you can't let up after that."

But there's no doubt this is a happy team at the moment after getting out of Philadelphia with a win. The 49ers have two road victories under their belt, and now they get to head home where they're comfortable to try to turn their 2-0 start into something much bigger.

"Don't get me wrong -- I wish I had a lot of plays back," Warner said. "I'm sure the defense would all say the same. But it's so hard to win in this league. When you go home 2-0 and get to go home and have a Sunday night game against a great team, it's a good feeling."

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