After two disappointing losses, all is not well, but certainly not lost in Niner Land. With the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) coming into town, the San Francisco 49ers (1-2) will have a difficult task in front of them if they want to return to .500 football and get the season back on the right foot.
The offense has to find a way to finish games. The last two defeats could and should have been easy victories. They led 17-0 against Chicago and 14-6 against Arizona, but San Francisco played horrendously in the second half of both contests and have yet to register a point in the fourth quarter through three games. In fact, they have been outscored in the second half 52-3, compared to outscoring their opponents in the first half 59-16.
The discipline has also been lacking, as the Niners have been penalized 137 more yards than their opponents, and eight penalties have been on third down keeping drives alive. The porous penalty woes stack up to an average of 12 penalties for 101 yards per game, an dramatic increase from the 6.8 penalties to 58.7 yards per game in Jim Harbaugh’s first three seasons as coach.
While one can only speculate as to why this breakdown is occurring, the team needs to correct their issues. The learning curve will have to be accelerated for this week’s game. The Eagles enter the game as one of the top offensive units in the league. Philly is second in the NFL in points per game with 33.7 and seventh in overall yardage with 1257, so it will be up to the Niners defense to limit Philadelphia’s high flying offense.
This is a trajectory game for the 49ers. Win, and they are back to 2-2, where they’ll face Alex Smith and an injury depleted Kansas City Chiefs with a great chance at getting back over .500, or drop their third straight and put themselves in a bigger hole in the toughest division in the NFL. Sunday will be no walk in the park, and I expect the 49ers to play their best game. The season has gotten off to a rocky start, but a win can help right the ship.
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