San Francisco 49ers prove they can win in vastly different ways

PHILADELPHIA -- After scoring his first NFL touchdown and helping the San Francisco 49ers outlast the Philadelphia Eagles, receiver Jauan Jennings giddily strutted off the podium following a short media session.

As Niners linebacker Fred Warner replaced Jennings on the dais, he looked out at the assembled media and said, "That's that 2-0 feeling," and a big smile crept across his face.

Suffice to say, the Niners were in a better mood after Sunday's rugged 17-11 victory against the Eagles than they were after last week's high-scoring, high-wire escape against the Detroit Lions.

"The hard ones are always the ones that mean the most," Warner said. "Nothing in this league is easy. Or given. We've got to earn everything. That's what the message was before the game."

In Week 1, the Niners piled up the yards in a 41-33 win, but the postgame locker room was subdued because they nearly blew a 28-point lead and watched as three key starters departed with significant injuries.

But Sunday's celebration wasn't just about winning a game that multiple players described only as "grimy." It was more about the accumulation of the two victories. The Niners have showed in the first two weeks of the season that they're capable of winning in vastly different ways from week to week.

"I have been around this league for a little while now, and teams that can win different ways, whether it's offense, defense, special teams stepping up, that makes for a good team," quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said.

While last week's victory offered a glimpse into how dynamic the Niners' offense can be when it's clicking, Sunday's game was more about a resilient defense, an offense making timely plays and a special teams unit that tight end George Kittle took extra care to recognize for its performance.

The Niners finished with just 306 yards of total offense and the defense gave up a number of big plays. At one point late in the second quarter, the Eagles had outgained the Niners 204-64.

With numbers like that and no Philadelphia turnovers, nobody would have been surprised to see San Francisco down by multiple scores going into halftime. Instead, defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw blocked a field goal attempt, and the defense conjured a fourth-down stop after a 91-yard completion from quarterback Jalen Hurts to receiver Quez Watkins, who didn't score because safety Jaquiski Tartt tracked him down at San Francisco's 6.

On the ensuing possession, the Niners' offense finally found traction, driving 97 yards for Jennings' 11-yard touchdown catch just before the half. That they had a halftime lead was surprising, even to them.

"For it to still be 7-3 at halftime, I thought, was pretty unbelievable," coach Kyle Shanahan said.

From there, the Niners played complementary football on the way to the win. The defense didn't allow a touchdown until there were 4 minutes, 6 seconds to play and end Nick Bosa finished with two sacks and a forced fumble. The offense never got fully on track but still managed 38 rushing attempts and didn't turn the ball over. In addition to Kinlaw's blocked field goal attempt, punter Mitch Wishnowsky dropped three punts inside Philadelphia's 20, including two inside the 10, and finished with a net average of 42.6 yards per punt.

It wasn't pretty, but it got the job done. With the win, the Niners are 2-0, with both wins coming on the road for the fifth time in franchise history. Each of the prior three times that has happened -- including 2019 -- the 49ers made the Super Bowl.

As the season goes on and the competition ramps up, the Niners will undoubtedly find themselves in more games like Week 2 than Week 1. They'll have to conjure similar resilient performances.

"That's what you have to do to be a good football team," Shanahan said.