After losing their last two games – and being outscored 38-3 in the second half in the process – you got the sense that the San Francisco 49ers desperately needed a win against the previously unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles this past Sunday.
Well, they got it. The 49ers beat the Eagles, 26-21, and if not for a couple of turnovers and special teams miscues, the final score could have easily been 26-0. The Eagles’ three touchdowns came on a blocked punt in the end zone, a pick-six by Malcolm Jenkins and an 82-yard punt return by Darren Sproles – all in the first half.
Philadelphia wouldn’t score again, and the 49ers (2-2) avoided a 1-3 start.
“It was huge for us,” San Francisco safety Antoine Bethea said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “The previous two weeks, we had some tough losses, but being able to come back and bounce back in front of our home fans, that’s what we needed.”
The 49ers defense limited the Eagles to 22 yards on 12 carries (1.8 yards per carry) and just 11 first downs, as Nick Foles went 21-of-43 for 195 yards and two interceptions.
The Eagles (3-1) had scored 67 points in their previous two games.
“We all had to be on the same page,” Bethea said of the defense. “Just watching the film, you can see (that other defenses were) out of position and (would) miss a guy here or there. But I think we did a good job communicating and tackling those guys. McCoy and Sproles are most definitely dangerous guys when they have the ball in their hands. We just had to make tackles and keep everything in front of us.”
Bethea finished with a team-high seven tackles despite almost missing the game with an ankle injury.
“It was sore, but that’s football,” he said. “I was able to battle through it and get through the game.”
It was Bethea’s 100th straight start.
“It’s important to me,” Bethea said of the streak. “Being able to go out week in and week out, your teammates (and) your coaches depend on you and know that you’re reliable – that’s something I hold close to my heart.”
Bethea, 30, spent the first eight seasons of his career in Indianapolis, winning a Super Bowl as a rookie. He’s enjoyed his time in San Francisco thus far, including his time playing for Jim Harbaugh – even though Deion Sanders might indicate otherwise. Sanders recently reported that Harbaugh does not have control of the locker room and that some of the 49ers do not like playing for him.
Bethea refuted those claims.
“No, we a family,” he said. “It’s all about guys in that locker room and that’s all it’s about. Everybody in our locker room is trying to go out there and win and we’re a family. Outside people are going to say what they say.”
The 49ers host Kansas City (2-2) this Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET. The Chiefs have won two straight games, including a 41-14 beatdown of the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football.