Man Up: Where to begin with Eagles' D?

After re-watching the Eagles' 24-23 loss to the 49ers, I counted exactly one defensive player who played well: Jason Babin.


After the first three weeks, blame was placed mostly on the linebackers and safeties. But after Sunday, the cornerbacks and defensive linemen are going to have to take some responsibility too.

Having said that, here's the player-by-player breakdown:

Jason Babin - Like I said, Babin played well, accounting for all three of the Eagles' sacks. He now has seven on the season, tops in the NFL. Babin sacked Alex Smith on a third down in the second quarter, forcing the 49ers to attempt a field goal. Later in the quarter, he pressured Smith on a stunt on third down, helping to force an incompletion. His second sack was a gimme. The 49ers left him unblocked, and Babin sacked and stripped Smith. In the fourth, he pressured Smith and forced him out of the pocket on an incompletion. He nearly had another sack on the play where Smith fumbled the snap and threw it away. There was nothing cheap about Babin's third sack. He just beat the right tackle and brought Smith down. He was called for roughing the passer in the third. Babin played all the snaps at right defensive end after Cole went down.

Cullen Jenkins - Jenkins had some good moments, but was in the middle of a couple big 49ers runs. He rushed upfield, and Gore found room between him and Mike Patterson, picking up 40 yards early on, although maybe that's what Jenkins is supposed to be doing in the wide-9? He was blocked to the ground on Gore’s 25-yard run in the fourth. Jenkins played a couple snaps at defensive end on the 49ers' final drive. Earlier, Jenkins stopped Kendall Hunter after a gain of 2. He delivered a hit on Smith in the pocket in the red zone at the end of the first. And Jenkins recovered the Smith fumble in the second.

Mike Patterson - Like I just mentioned, a big hole opened up between him and Jenkins on Gore’s 25-yard run in the fourth. Patterson stopped Gore after a 2-yard run in the first. He and Cole forced Smith out of the pocket on the play where he hit Hunter for the 44-yard gain.

Trent Cole - According to reports, he'll miss the next two games with a calf injury. Cole was relatively quiet on Sunday, but is the Eagles' best defensive player. He got to Hunter first as the Eagles dropped him for a 4-yard loss early on. I'm not sure when you'll see this again, but Cole's name does not appear in the box score: no tackles, no sacks, no QB hits in this one. Credit Smith, the 49ers scheme and left tackle Joe Staley.

Phillip Hunt - He saw more of a role after Cole went down, playing 21 snaps. As a pass rusher, he got good pressure on Smith in the first, forcing him to step up and throw incomplete. Not sure that the Eagles can count on him against the run though. Hunt stopped Hunter after a 2-yard gain in the third, but Vernon Davis effectively blocked him one-on-one on Gore’s 4-yard run late. All of Hunt's snaps came at left defensive end.

Trevor Laws - Only noticed him on a couple plays. Smith stepped up after pressure from Hunt, and Laws got a hit in on him as he threw incomplete. He tackled Gore after a 5-yard gain on 3rd-and-17. Laws has not been much of a factor this year.

Antonio Dixon - Something I don't believe we've seen previously this year: Dixon and Patterson lining up next to each at defensive tackle on a few occasions. Likely an effort to stop the run. Dixon brought Hunter down after a 4-yard gain on one play. He got his hand on Smith on an incompletion in the first and suffered an injury in the third quarter. 

Jamar Chaney - His struggles have been one of the real surprises of this season, at least from my perspective. Chaney was better in this one, but still very much up and down. He was slow to get off his block and to the ballcarrier on Hunter’s 18-yard catch and run. The right tackle manhandled him on Gore’s 40-yard run in the first, and Chaney got blocked on Gore’s 25-yard run in the fourth. He was blocked again on Gore’s 12-yard touchdown run and got beat by Davis on the 9-yard touchdown. The good moments? Chaney was in on a tackle, dropping Hunter for a 4-yard loss. He and Moise Fokou combined to drop Kyle Williams after a 4-yard gain on a wide receiver screen. Chaney made a good tackle on Delanie Walker after a 4-yard completion. Credit him with hustling downfield on the 38-yard completion to Michael Crabtree and making the tackle after Jarrad Page and Nnamdi Asomugha both missed. Chaney also stopped Gore after a 3-yard gain in the third. It's worth noting that he stayed on the field in the Eagles’ dime package. Previously, Chaney had been replaced by Keenan Clayton.

Brian Rolle - There was good and bad from Rolle, but he looked like belonged and can be a playmaker. He showed good closing speed, hitting Crabtree and forcing an incompletion in the first quarter. Rolle got around an offensive lineman and dropped Gore for no gain in the second. On the flip side, he dove at Hunter’s feet but couldn’t make the play on the 44-yard catch and run in the third. In coverage, he missed a tackle on Bruce Miller, who picked up 15 yards. He was called for a 15-yard facemask on the 49ers' game-winning drive.

Moise Fokou - Again, ups and downs with Fokou. At this point, you know what you're getting from him on a week-to-week basis. He got blocked on Hunter’s 7-yard run on the 49ers’ first drive and again on the 18-yard catch and run by Hunter. Fokou was blocked on Hunter’s 12-yard carry in the third too. He stopped Gore after a gain of 2 in the first. He and Chaney dropped Williams after a 4-yard gain on a wide receiver screen. Fokou stopped Hunter after a 3-yard gain in the third. And he chased Smith out of the pocket and forced him to throw it away in the fourth.

Casey Matthews - He was the whipping boy through the first three weeks of the season, but Matthews only played two snaps in short yardage, and the 49ers averaged 6.6 yards per carry as a team.

Akeem Jordan - He played two snaps in short yardage.

Asante Samuel - Not a good day for Samuel. He gave up an 11-yard completion to Crabtree on a six-man Eagles blitz in the first. Crabtree beat him again for a 14-yard gain on 3rd-and-3. I have abstained from criticizing him too much for his tackling, but Samuel just gave a poor effort on the 30-yard touchdown to Joshua Morgan. He had a chance to at least make contact with him at the 5, but let Morgan run into the end zone. The Eagles rushed seven on the play and were in zone. Morgan found an opening between Samuel and Rolle. Fox analyst Jim Mora blamed Samuel for the touchdown. Later, he gave up a 9-yard completion to Morgan. For the first time all year, he lined up inside on the slot receiver in certain packages.

Nnamdi Asomugha - Asomugha did a good job on Davis for much of the game, but for the third time in four weeks, he was beat on a big play. This time, Crabtree got past him for a 38-yard gain. To make matters worse, Asomugha missed the tackle after the completion. He later missed a tackle on Davis after a 7-yard gain. Again, probably not at the top of the list of Eagles concerns, but the Birds paid for a shut-down corner, and Asomugha has given up three plays of 25+ yards, not including a 41-yard pass interference penalty in Week 1.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie - He played 31 snaps, and Juan Castillo once again moved Rodgers-Cromartie around. He got just enough of Hunter to prevent a touchdown on his 44-yard gain in the third. I believe he was only targeted once. Quarterbacks haven't thrown much his way the past two weeks.

Joselio Hanson - He took some snaps away from Rodgers-Cromartie, playing both in dime packages, and some nickel. Didn't see much action. But did you notice that the 49ers wisely took advantage of the Eagles playing with six defensive backs on a 3rd-and-7 on their game-winning drive by running with Hunter and picking up 14 yards?

Nate Allen - He just looked a step slow throughout. Davis beat Allen for a 26-yard gain in the first. He got blocked and had trouble switching directions in the open field on Hunter’s 44-yard catch and run. He looked very hesitant on the 30-yard Morgan touchdown. Allen had a shot to bring him down at the 10, but couldn’t even get a hand on the 49ers wide receiver. Allen was up in the box, but got blocked by the tight end on Gore’s 25-yard run in the fourth. He looked a step slow getting to Gore, who bounced an 8-yard run to the outside late in the fourth. Allen did have some good moments. He helped break up a third-down pass for Hunter on third down in the second. He made a good tackle on Crabtree after a 2-yard pickup on third down in the third. He had good coverage on Ted Ginn Jr. on a deep ball in the fourth.

Jarrad Page - For some reason, when Page looks bad, he looks really bad. Gore’s 40-yard run would have been a 16-yard run had Page not been juked by the 49ers running back around midfield. He was responsible for help over the top on the 38-yard completion to Crabtree. Page didn’t get there in time, and when he did, missed the tackle. He got a good hit on Hunter in the flat to help force an incompletion. He had good coverage on Ginn in the end zone at the end of the first. Page had good coverage on Davis on a second-quarter incompletion. And he made a good tackle on Davis after a 3-yard completion.

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