The 49ers addressed their anemic pass rush by replacing outside linebacker Corey Lemonier with rookie Aaron Lynch on passing downs.
Lynch, a fifth-round pick from South Florida, didn’t have any sacks Sunday. But he was prominent throughout the game, especially in the fourth quarter when he forced a quick throw by Nick Foles on one third-down play then chased him out of the pocket on the Eagles’ final chance for a go-ahead touchdown at San Francisco’s goal line.
Lynch, who primarily rushed from the left side, finished with two quarterback hurries and a tackle for loss.
“He was really running, really pursuing, and put pressure on the quarterback when he was out of the pocket,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “Thought he had some other fine plays. I mean – physical, power, and speed. Just keep coming, Aaron. You’re doing a nice job.”
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The 49ers, who will be without their top pass rusher, Aldon Smith, until mid November, had only four sacks entering the game.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio experimented with more blitzes in last week’s loss to Arizona. On Sunday, he tried shaking up the lineup a bit.
Lemonier had shown promise as a rookie last year. However, he hasn’t had sack since Week 6 last season and mostly was limited to special teams on Sunday.
The 49ers only had one sack – when nose tackle Ian Williams forced Foles out of bounds – against the Eagles. But Foles was uncomfortable throughout the contest. He entered the game with three straight games with 300 or more passing yards. He had 195 yards Sunday as well as a 42.3 passer rating, his worst since Week 2 last season.
Davises go down – The 49ers began the game buoyed by the return of tight end Vernon Davis and right tackle Anthony Davis, then quickly had to go back to playing without them.
Anthony Davis, making his first start of the season, was knocked out of the game when Eagles defender Brandon Graham beat left tackle Joe Staley, sacked Colin Kaepernick and then crashed into the back of Davis’ knee.
Davis walked out of the 49ers’ locker room using canes and had his left knee heavily wrapped.
Vernon Davis was returning from an ankle injury that kept him from last week’s game in Arizona. He suffered a back injury in the third quarter. He had to be helped to the Levi’s Stadium X-ray room following the injury and was still walking gingerly after the game.
Harbaugh did not give a diagnosis for either player, but Vernon Davis said he wasn’t worried about his latest injury.
Red-flag blues – Harbaugh, who was terrible on replay challenges last season, lost both of his challenges Sunday. He is now 1 for 3 on the season.
His second challenge came after a dazzling, one-handed reception by wide receiver Jeremy Maclin on the Eagles’ penultimate drive. It left the 49ers without any timeouts.
“It would have been an amazing catch for him to catch it,” Harbaugh said. “I thought I saw on the replay board that the ball moved and slid a little bit. But great catch by him and would have set up a fourth down. I thought it was worth the challenge.”
The 49ers earlier burned their second timeout of the half when Kaepernick realized he wasn’t going to be able to draw the Eagles offside on a fourth-and-2 situation. Harbaugh said he wanted to take a 5-yard delay-of-game penalty instead but didn’t relay it to the quarterback.
“So that’s a sloppy play on me,” he said. “I should have alerted him if we didn’t get the offsides to take the delay of game. Sloppy, sloppy coaching on my part.”
Loud crowd – The Levi’s Stadium crowd received a far better review Sunday than it did following the team’s Week 2 loss to Chicago.
“It’s a great atmosphere,” Kaepernick said. “I feel like it’s louder than Candlestick (Park), to be honest. The fans helped us being loud, rooting for us today the way they did. It’s great when you have that behind you.”