Eagles-Niners Day-After Dissection

The Eagles have gained just 15 yards on 13 carries in the red zone the last two games. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)

Reviewing the wreckage of the Eagles’ 24-23 collapse to the 49ers while wondering how many hours Juan Castillo plans to go without sleep this week:

By the Numbers

--LeSean McCoy, who entered Sunday’s game as the league’s second leading rusher, had just just nine carries against the Niners and only four in the second half of a game in which the Eagles had a 20-point lead. Andy Reid, who repeatedly has said over the years that he likes to run the ball in the second half after getting a lead, denied that Monday. Must’ve been another Andy Reid.

--The Eagles’ offense has converted just 3 of 12 red zone trips into touchdowns in the last two games. They were 1-for-5 against the Giants and 2-for-7 Sunday. They’ve gained just 15 yards on 13 carries in the red zone the last two games. Mike Vick’s passing numbers in the red zone against the Giants and Niners: 9-for-13 for 41 yards, 2 touchdowns, one interception.

--The Eagles have what is considered the best cornerback trio in the league, yet have just two interceptions in four games. They’re on pace for eight picks.

--All 15 of the Eagles’ sacks have been recorded by their front four, including seven by Jason Babin. A breakdown of Babin’s seven sacks:

By quarter

1Q – 0

2Q – 3

3Q – 1

4Q – 3

By down

First down: 2

Second down: 1

Third down: 4


Pass Defense

In the Niners’ first three games, Alex Smith had averaged just 168 passing yards per game. Against the Eagles, he threw for 291. In the third quarter alone Sunday, he completed 9 of 9 passes for 179 yards and 2 touchdowns.

A season-long problem covering – and tackling – opposing running backs and tight ends continued in the loss. Twelve of Smith’s 20 completions and 154 of his 291 passing yards went to backs and tight ends.

In the first four games, running backs and tight ends have 40 receptions for 478 yard and 6 touchdowns against the Eagles.

On Kendall Hunter’s 44-yard catch and run in the third quarter, which preceded the Niners’ first touchdown, Jamar Chaney abandoned his coverage responsibility on Hunter when Smith broke containment, and pursued Smith. As soon as Chaney committed, Smith dumped it to Hunter.

On Smith’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Josh Morgan, the Eagles blitzed safety Jarrad Page and cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha off the same side. With no inside safety help on Morgan, Asante Samuel, the corner on that side, should have been playing inside leverage on the Niners’ wideout. But he didn’t. He stayed outside, allowing Morgan to run a slant into the hole between he and linebacker Brian Rolle, and Smith delivered an strike to him. It helped that the blitz didn’t work. Both Page and Asomugha were easily picked up.

On another one of the completions to a Niners running back, linebacker Brian Rolle was late getting over to pick up fullback Bruce Miller in the left flat, then tried to push the 250-pounder out of bounds rather than wrapping him up and tackling him. Miller stayed in bounds and picked up 15 yards on the third-quarter play.

The Eagles dealt with Niners tight end Vernon Davis in several different ways, including putting cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha on him. Davis was targeted by Smith six times and had four catches for 45 yards and a touchdown. He hurt them just twice . He had a 26-yard catch late in the first quarter that set up a David Akers field goal. Davis beat safety Nate Allen with an effective in-and-out move on that one. His other big play was his nine-yard touchdown catch late in the third quarter that got the Niners within six points. On that one, he beat middle linebacker Jamar Chaney.

While Asomugha did a good job on Davis, he got beat by wide receiver Michael Crabree on a 38-yard completion four plays before Davis’ touchdown. Asomugha has said several times in recent weeks that he knows teams are going to try and attack the Eagles corners with double moves. Yet, he bit on one by Crabtree who beat him with a stutter-and-go move. Asomugha caught Crabtree after the catch, then blew the tackle on him, allowing him to pick up seven more yards. Asomugha’s tackling skills in his first four games with the Eagles have not been impressive.

Run Defense

The Niners came into the game averaging 2.5 yards per carry. Even with their star running back, Frank Gore, playing with a sore ankle, they rushed for 164 yards on 25 carries against the Eagles. Gore had 127 yards on 15 carries. The Niners had six double-digit runs, including 40- and 25-yarder by Gore.

One hundred thirty of the Niners’ 164 rushing yards came in the first and fourth quarters. In the first four games, 391 of their opponents’ 558 rushing yards have come in quarters 1 and 4. Opponents are averaging 6.6 yards per carry against the Eagles in the first quarter.

A breakdown of the Eagles’ run defense after 4 games:

By Quarter

1Q – 32-211 (6.6)

2Q – 14-83 (5.9)

3Q – 24-84 (3.5)

4Q – 35-180 (5.1)

By Down

1st down – 56-334 (6.0)

2nd down – 35-118 (3.4)

3rd down – 13-105 (8.1)

4th down – 1-1 (1.0)


Key Play That Got Overlooked

Linebacker NaVorro Bowman’s impressive play on Michael Vick on a third-and-three play with 6 minutes left in the third quarter and the Eagles up 23-10. Vick bolted the pocket and looked like he was going to be able to outrun Bowman and pick up a first down. But Bowman took a good angle to the quarterback, made a diving tackle and held him to a one-yard gain, forcing an Eagles punt. The Niners promptly drove 77 yards on five plays and scored on Davis’ nine-yard TD catch to make it a six-point game.

Spotlight On. . . Jamar Chaney and Kyle DeVan

Neither of these guys had very good games. Chaney, the starting middle linebacker, led the Eagles in tackles. But his fingerprints were on far too many of the Niners’ big offensive plays.

There was Vernon Davis’ touchdown catch. Playing inside leverage, Chaney was unable to stay with Davis, then failed to tackle him when he got his hands on him at the three-yard line.

There was his poor decision to abandon coverage on running back Kendall Hunter on his 44-yard catch-and-run in the third quarter. And there were the numerous times he was unable to get off blocks.

Fullback Bruce Miller took him out of the play on Frank Gore’s game-winning 12-yard touchdown run. Earlier in that drive, Chaney couldn’t get off a block by left tackle Joe Staley on a 21-yard run by Gore.

And on the Niners’ first possession, both he and weakside linebacker Brian Rolle were effectively blocked, creating a huge running lane for Gore on an inside trap play that gained 40 yards.

DeVan, who was claimed off waivers from the Colts just before the start of the season and immediately inserted as the starting right guard because rookie first-rounder Danny Watkins wasn’t ready for prime time, played pretty well in the Eagles’ first three games, but struggled Sunday.

He was involved in that ill-conceived Ronnie Brown goal-line play in the second quarter. DeVan was supposed to come across the formation from his right guard spot and pick up linebacker Parys Haralson. But he tripped over somebody’s feet and never made it, which allowed Haralson to come in clean and blow up the play.

In the second quarter, he appeared to make an assignment error that allowed Niners left end Ray McDonald to come into the backfield untouched and get a hand on Vick. In one of his many Houdini acts Sunday, Vick spun away from McDonald and ended up completing a 29-yard pass to DeSean Jackson.

On the very next play, DeVan again was supposed to come across the formation and pick up the Niners’ rookie linebacker, Aldon Smith. But he failed to effectively block Smith, who sacked Vick for a 10-yard loss. DeVan also was called for holding on the play.

In the third quarter, McDonald, who was a thorn in DeVan’s side most of the game, split the gap between the right guard and center Jason Kelce on a second-and-11 and blew up a handoff to LeSean McCoy. He hit Vick just as he was handing off to McCoy. McCoy was promptly dropped for a five-yard loss by linebacker Ahmad Brooks.

Late in the third quarter, with the Eagles facing a second-and-seven at the San Francisco 22 two plays after Vick’s 61-yard completion to Jackson, DeVan was again flagged for holding after McDonald beat him on an inside rush. The penalty negated a six-yard run by Vick and pretty much stalled the drive. Shortly after that, Alex Henery missed the first of his two costly field goal attempts. – Paul Domowitch