Eagle eye on the enemy: San Francisco 49ers
28 October 2017 Opinion
Eagles return to the Linc for their first back-to-back home game of the season on Sunday versus the winless San Francisco 49ers. Most people assume the game will be a blowout; however, until last week against the Dallas Cowboys, the 49ers were in close games every week. Overall, the 49ers have a lot of question marks but arguably a young corps of talent that will definitely pose a threat to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Let’s review the matchup and see what is in store for Sunday’s game:
Carson Wentz has truly made a name for himself during his sophomore season. We are halfway through the season and his name is high on the list for MVP consideration. It is absolutely deserved. He has been playing and progressing at a high level since week 1. Sunday he will be challenged by the weather elements, according to the forecast. One thing I’ve learned is you shouldn’t doubt the North Dakota product when it comes to getting the job done. He’ll be challenged without his starting left tackle Jason Peters vs a very solid pass rushing defense; however, he also knows how to change the play at the line of scrimmage in order to get proper protection or change the play altogether. He has the luxury of being at home the next 2 weeks as Big V gets settled in.
CJ Beathard is a rookie QB. He looked decent against the Redskins when the 49ers pulled Hoyer two weeks ago. He can definitely run the ball and we’ve seen flashes of his passing capabilities. Overall, the 49ers will need to depend on the run game to support the rookie. I do see his potential but with the weather conditions being what they are, I suspect Shanahan will keep his throws to a minimum this weekend.
The Eagles offensive line will look different on Sunday. I won’t say it will be worse than it has been in week’s past but losing Jason Peters for the season is a huge blow to this football team. Peters was playing at a high level until he went down early in the second half on Monday night against the Redskins. Big V has yet to start at left tackle position in his NFL career but it was the right call for the coaching staff to plug him in there for Sunday’s game. Johnson will be the future LT on this team but moving him and shuffling the offensive line this late in the season would cause more harm than good. Big V took a lot of snaps in the offseason in place of Peters and is likely the most qualified option Eagles could have to take on this opportunity. With home field advantage, I have high hopes that Big V will settle in and be able to handle the defensive pass rushers coming his way this Sunday.
The 49ers are also hurt on the offensive line. Starting right tackle Trent Brown has not practiced all week due to a concussion. Although he is currently listed as questionable, he is likely not to play Sunday. Starting right guard Brandon Fusco also did not practiced all week and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. If Fusco’s biceps injury is serious, the 49ers could be without the starting right side of their line vs. the Eagles dominating defensive line.
The Eagles have a winning formula being able to rotate in starters and depth guys like crazy all season. Early on in the season we’d see a full switch out and big plays ended up happening while the defensive starters were standing on the sidelines. This past Monday, we started to see Jim Schwartz rotating the line while keeping some starters on the field as others got rest. By doing so, the drop off in pressure and impact each down was not noticeable and our guys were able to stay fresh to keep wreaking havoc on every down Monday night. With possibly two starting offensive linemen out and a rookie QB, the 49ers better get set… cause here they come.
The 49ers have invested a lot in their defensive line. They’ve drafted defensive pass rushers high for several years now and have a lot of young talent to work with. This past draft, the 49ers took Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster in the first round alone. The 49ers GM knows a thing or two about how important defense can be and proved it in that one, two punch. Foster hasn’t been 100% since entering the league. He played last week but has been battling ankle and rib injuries this week. Thomas has 2 sacks this season and is tasked with facing Big V in his first ever start at the LT position. Eagles offensive line has been able to help Wentz out all season against very stout defensive lines. I think Pederson and Stoutland will be concocting ways to keep Wentz upright and impose the line’s will while running the ball on Sunday.
Darby is likely to be out for the Eagles against the 49ers. He hasn’t played since week 1 so it shouldn’t be made into a big deal. According to Doug Pederson, his limitations in practice are merely able his conditioning. We should see him in coming weeks. With Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin, the 49ers have a decent WRs corps but it is no greater than any challenge Eagles defensive backs have seen thus far. So long as the line is able to get to the QB, the secondary will be able to do the cleanup work.
The 49ers already have their starting nickle CB K’Waun Williams declared out for Sunday’s contest. The real story about this team’s secondary is how they moved their top player out of it. Starting Safety Eric Reid will now be playing LB position for the 49ers. It seems like an odd move but we will see how that pans out for the 49ers Sunday.
Eagles running game has stifled a bit in the last two games. I expect them to get more creative in the run game to keep the chains moving during the bad weather. It will be difficult to run on this defensive line; however, Eagles got an idea of how to exploit their run defense watching last week’s tape in the matchup against the Cowboys. I expect a good game from Alshon Jeffery as well. The media has been asking all kinds of questions to him about contracts and being a number one WR and I could really see him showing them why he is here. I love the selflessness of these offensive skills guys. No one is selfish and demanding the ball. They are enjoying winning and competing. I expect that to continue on Sunday vs a team reshuffling their defensive backfield.
The 49ers main skills position guy is Carlos Hyde. He has been very good thus far and kept the offense in a lot of close games. If Eagles defense can prove running the ball only results in lost yardage, Hyde’s impact could be eliminated early on. Garcon is absolutely a talent. He has been for years and has a resume of burning Eagles defensive backs. With a rookie QB facing the Eagles defensive line, I can’t expect him to get many good throws his way. Goodwin is a speedster WR. He really has looked dominate in Shanahan’s offense. I think he will be a special talent for the 49ers in coming years but this game likely won’t give him much to work with.
Back home in the Linc with some bad weather? Ah, at least we’ve got Wentz, a good run defense and good running game. The 49ers are a competitive challenge but overall the Eagles are the better team with the home crowd on their side. It should be a wet one but a great win for the birds.