Gore powers 49ers past Eagles to avoid 3-game skid
Sep. 29, 2014
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Frank Gore has assured his coaches and teammates he'll do anything, as much as needed or as little.
He will help groom rookie Carlos Hyde, he will block and sit more plays out even though he'd rather take part in every snap.
Gore produced his biggest day so far this season to get the San Francisco 49ers back on track, catching a career-best 55-yard touchdown pass and running for his first 100-yard game in a 26-21 comeback win against the previously unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
Gore came in with just 35 carries and 139 yards through the first three games, including only six rushes for 10 yards in last Sunday's loss at Arizona. He finished with 119 on Sunday.
But the highlight was the catch, on which Kaepernick threw off-balance, across his body and across the field.
Even coach Jim Harbaugh didn't see that coming as his 49ers (2-2) avoided their first three-game skid in his four seasons and handed the Eagles (3-1) their first defeat.
"Kap did a great job keeping his eyes up field. I had no idea. When he stopped, pulled it up and started to throw, I didn't know where he was going with the ball," Harbaugh said. "The speed, the angle, the way he got into the end zone was something. I didn't think he was going to get it in."
Not that Kaepernick was planning it that way.
"I don't think I've ever had one quite like that," Kaepernick said. "It was a great job by Frank."
"Great job by Kap," Gore offered, standing next to his quarterback on the postgame podium.
Here are some more things to know from the 49ers' first victory at new Levi's Stadium:
49ERS D: Vic Fangio's group has regained its swagger — and it didn't hurt that the defensive coordinator found a timely way to prepare his unit. During Friday's practice, Fangio ran an up-tempo session in which players had to adjust on the fly and deal with plays coming in late to resemble what the Eagles might present.
It sure seems to have worked perfectly. The Eagles didn't get past midfield until late and went without an offensive touchdown.
"It was very loud. He was calling in calls real late so the players would have to kind of scramble to get the plays and communicate," safety Antoine Bethea said. "Made it real easy for us today on Sunday. I think that was a great coaching move by coach Vic."
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles threw two incomplete passes from the 1 in the waning moments after gaining six first downs on a lengthy drive, more than the five the Eagles managed before that.
BIG-PLAY EAGLES: Philadelphia wasted some memorable big plays.
Darren Sproles had a career-best 82-yard punt return for a touchdown — fifth-longest in Eagles history — and Malcolm Jenkins ran an interception 53 yards for a score for the Eagles. Brad Smith recovered Trey Burton's blocked punt against Andy Lee for a TD.
The Eagles have forced a takeaway in 17 straight games including the playoffs.
BETHEA'S 100TH STRAIGHT START: Bethea made his 100th consecutive start, the longest streak by an active safety — and it was a memorable outing.
Bethea forced a fumble and made an interception on the Eagles' last-ditch drive to seal it, his first pick since joining San Francisco as a free agent. He spent his first eight seasons with the Colts.
"It was important to me, man. That's something I hold close, dear to my heart," Bethea said. "Just being reliable, being able to have my coaches and teammates to rely on me week-in and week-out. That's something I've really held onto my career so far."
EAGLES MAKESHIFT O-LINE: The Eagles never got going in the run game, and it sure didn't help to have a patchwork offensive line.
They managed 22 total yards rushing.
"We had the ball enough," running back LeSean McCoy said. "We didn't do anything with it."
Left guard Matt Tobin and center David Molk made their first career starts for the Eagles on a beat-up offensive line. Molk replaced Jason Kelce, who had sports hernia surgery last week. With All-Pro left guard Evan Mathis and backup right tackle Allen Barbre already hurt and starting right tackle Lane Johnson serving the final game of his four-game suspension, left tackle Jason Peters was the only player in his usual spot.
"Man, I feel real bad right now," Peters said. "I can't really describe the feeling. We're two yards from a win and they stopped us. It hurt."
DAVIS AND DAVIS: A pair of offensive standouts named Davis returned to the field, then got hurt again.
49ers tight end Vernon Davis came back after missing one game with a left ankle injury, then left with a back injury in the third quarter. He was still experiencing spasms after the game but said an X-ray was negative.
Right tackle Anthony Davis made his season debut after nursing an injured hamstring for the preseason and first three games, but he also exited. Kaepernick was sacked and fell into the back of Davis' left knee.
Harbaugh had no updates on either player afterward.
"I'll be all right," said Vernon Davis, who had two catches before the injury.