What can the Eagles learn from the Lions’ comeback vs. the 49ers?
The San Francisco 49ers held a 21-point lead at halftime against the Lions last Sunday. But, a second-half in which Detroit outscored San Fran 23-10 helped Jared Goff come within one possession of tying the game.
More importantly, the Niners lost RB Raheem Mostert and CB Jason Verrett to long-term injuries and LB Dre Greenlaw is dealing with a groin injury. Still, how were the Lions able to find success in the second-half and almost pull off the comeback?
For one, Goff attacked the 49ers’ linebackers over-pursuit and made them uncomfortable in coverage. The Lions targeted Fred Warner nine times as he allowed eight catches for 80 yards. After Dre Greenlaw left the game with his injury, it became an all-out assault on third-year LB Azeez Al-Shaair. Goff threw at him 13 times and completed eight passes, with two drops, for 76 yards and a touchdown.
The main benefactors of these linebacker mismatches are the tight ends and running backs. Eagles’ fans saw what rookie Kenneth Gainwell is capable of in the passing game, and this might be the spot where Boston Scott emerges from his shell. If one of San Francisco’s linebackers covers Zach Ertz or Dallas Goedert one-on-one, expect them to be a constant target and in for a huge day.
Jason Verrett, who locked down the right cornerback spot, suffered an unfortunate ACL tear and will miss the remainder of the season. Journeyman defensive back Dontae Johnson filled in for Verrett and allowed three catches for 25 yards and a touchdown on five targets. The Niners already have a rookie fifth-round pick in Deommodore Lenoir starting at the left corner, so Jalen Hurts can undoubtedly test this secondary.
Goff threw the ball 57 times during the comeback, which is not ideal. His top three receivers were TE TJ Hockenson, RB D’Andre Swift, and RB Jamaal Williams, who all had eight catches each, with Swift receiving the most targets (11) and Hockenson close behind (10).
If you look at Jared Goff’s passing chart against the 49ers, he had the most success on throws inside of 10 yards and to the outside between 10-20 yards. The Eagles have to exploit an injured and inexperienced 49ers’ cornerback group with their speedy wide receiving core.
The final part of this is the success of the running game. Defensive ends Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead are formidable opponents on the edges. The Eagles might want to take a page out of the Lions’ playbook and keep runs to the inside.
Of Detroit’s 116 rushing yards, 70 of those came when running behind their left guard or center. This game will be another important opportunity for Seumalo to earn that well-deserved contract extension.
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