Reigning Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith gets another shot at a team that passed on him in the draft when the Philadelphia Eagles welcome the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon in a battle of Week 1 winners.
The wide out debuted for the Eagles (1-0) in their 32-6 win at Atlanta last Sunday, contributing six catches for 71 yards, including an 18-yard hook up with Jalen Hurts that produced Philadelphia’s first points of the season.
The 49ers (1-0) opened with an impressive offensive showing on the road, getting 189 receiving yards and a touchdown from Deebo Samuel in a 41-33 victory at Detroit.
The Falcons and 49ers entered the April draft with concerns at wideout. Atlanta was on the verge of trading longtime standout Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans, while San Francisco was coming off a season in which its top pass-catcher — Brandon Aiyuk — totaled just 748 receiving yards on 60 receptions.
The 49ers opted for quarterback Trey Lance with the No. 3 selection. Lance debuted against the Lions as a backup, a role in which he threw a 5-yard touchdown pass on his only attempt. He saw action on just three other plays, rushing for 2 yards on three attempts.
The Falcons indeed plucked a pass catcher one pick later. But it was Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, who was limited to four catches for 31 yards in his duel with Smith in the opener.
Smith went 10th to the Eagles, which will give the former Alabama standout six personal incentives this season to show what teams missed out on by selecting other players. Philadelphia doesn’t play Jacksonville, Cincinnati or Miami in 2021, three other teams that went elsewhere on the draft board.
Smith won’t be the only Eagles player performing before the Philadelphia fans for the first time this week. New head coach Nick Sirianni looks forward to the hometown fans’ reaction to his unbeaten squad.
“What a great football city this is. Fans are the best in the NFL,” Sirianni said. “Super excited to feel that energy, to feel that energy when we come out. I’m going to be looking at that screen when Rocky comes on and Adrian says, ‘Win,’ and everybody gets juiced up. I’m going to have some energy when I see that.”
A home crowd filled with energy last week at Detroit was quickly quieted. Lance threw his touchdown pass to Trent Sherfield in the game’s 10th minute, and San Francisco led 31-10 by halftime.
Before the game ended, the 49ers found themselves holding on for dear life, in part because two key players — running back Raheem Mostert and cornerback Jason Verrett – came away with season-ending injuries.
Rookie Elijah Mitchell stepped in for Mostert and delivered 104 rushing yards and a touchdown in the 49ers’ win, and he can expect a deeper supporting cast this week. Rookie running back Trey Sermon is expected to make his NFL debut. He was inactive for the opener.
“I have a lot of confidence in (JaMycal) Hasty, and same with Trey (Sermon). He’ll get his opportunity now,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan noted. “It’s always that way in the league, especially with running backs. It’s next man up, and we expect those guys to not miss a beat.”
The Eagles have won the last two meetings with the 49ers, including 25-20 in Week 4 last October at San Francisco.
–Field Level Media