Eagles Wake-Up Call: Getting To Know the 49ers
Next up for the Eagles is a trip to San Francisco to take on the 49ers. Here are five things you need to know about the Week 4 matchup:
1. In some ways, the 49ers are the bizzaro-Eagles. The Birds keep getting off to slow starts, but have found ways to turn it on in the second half en route to a 3-0 record.
The 49ers have been getting off to strong starts, but then are falling apart. San Francisco has been outscored 52-3 in the second halves of their games. They blew a 14-6 halftime lead against the Cardinals and were shut out in the second half. In Week 2 against the Bears, they were outscored 21-3 in the second half after holding a 17-7 halftime lead.
The Eagles, meanwhile, have outscored opponents 74-24 in the second halves of games.
2. Some believe the wheels are falling off in San Francisco. The team has lost back-to-back games, and Greg A. Bedard of The MMQB thinks he’s seen this script before:
The players’ disposition and the coach’s increasing disconnect with his team look familiar to me: The situation reminds me of Nick Saban as he coached the Dolphins during their 1-6 start to the 2006 season, when they were a preseason Super Bowl favorite. It wasn’t long before Saban started looking at other options, which led to him taking the Alabama job. The players knew he wasn’t all in, and it all ultimately collapsed.
Harbaugh is in the fourth year of his five-year contract, and both sides have tabled contract talks. With Harbaugh’s alma mater, Michigan, just 2-2 this season with blowout losses to Notre Dame and Utah, there is only going to be increased chatter of Harbaugh’s future.
While it would be silly to count the 49ers out given their success in recent years, it’s clear that as far as September games go, this is a big one for them.
3. Colin Kaepernick’s numbers are decent. He’s completing 70.2 percent of his passes and averaging 7.4 YPA. Kaepernick’s thrown four touchdowns against three interceptions and is always a threat with his legs (27 carries, 129 yards).
He’s got good pass-catching weapons in Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Stevie Johnson. All three have 160+ yards apiece through the first three games. Crabtree is probably the most physically gifted. Boldin is the most accomplished. And Johnson caught all nine balls thrown his way last week.
The 49ers were without TE Vernon Davis against the Cardinals. His status for Sunday is up in the air.
Given Kaepernick’s ability to keep plays alive and the Eagles’ lack of a pass-rush vs. Washington, it’d be no surprise if the 49ers decided to air it out and take advantage of a leaky secondary.
4. The defense is playing without Aldon Smith and NaVorro Bowman. The 49ers struggled to generate a pass-rush against the Cardinals as Drew Stanton completed 18 of 33 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns. Jay Cutler threw four touchdowns against San Francisco in Week 2, but averaged just 5.2 YPA.
The 49ers have just four sacks in three games. Defensive lineman Justin Smith has three of them.
The Eagles will be playing with a banged-up offensive line and could have issues, but this is far from a top-level pass-rushing unit.
5. San Francisco got away from its run game last week. Frank Gore had just six carries overall and one in the second half.
Gore has 35 carries in three games and is averaging 4.0 YPC. The Eagles did an excellent job last week against Alfred Morris. Against San Francisco, they’ll be challenged with the Gore/Kaepernick combination on the ground.
WHAT YOU MISSED
T-Mac looks at how Jeremy Maclin and Jordan Matthews responded against DeSean Jackson.
My day-after piece focuses on Nick Foles’ toughness. We also have game balls, locker room nuggets, five thoughts, snap counts and more.
Chip Kelly’s take on Cary Williams’ comments and the Jason Kelce injury.
My player-by-player game review of the Eagles’ offense.
Some great photos from the Eagles’ 37-34 win.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz draws comparisons between the clutch late-game play of the Birds under Chip Kelly and the recently successful Baltimore Orioles under manager Buck Showalter:
I think Chip Kelly would like Showalter quite a bit. They have a different way of looking at sports. Conventional wisdom isn’t always so wise. Kelly might be impressed that his defense came up with a clutch stop at the end of the game, but he also might tell you that if they didn’t allow one of the two previous TD drives, there wouldn’t have been the same need to make that clutch stop.
You have to be impressed with the way the Eagles have responded at key moments in each of the first 3 games. They have been a clutch team. You just wish they would quit putting themselves into a position where they need to make such plays.
Paul Domowitch of the Daily News reviews the Eagles’ performance:
Both of the Eagles’ outside corners – Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams – struggled mightily Sunday. So did safety Nate Allen, who was as much, if not more, to blame for DeSean Jackson’s 81-yard touchdown catch as Williams, who was playing outside technique on the play and expecting inside help that he never got from Allen. Fletcher was targeted 13 times by Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins and gave up 10 completions for 104 yards, including two of Cousins’ three TD passes – a four-yarder to fullback Darrell Young on the Redskins’ opening drive, and a four-yarder to Pierre Garcon on a quick slant on their second possession. Fletcher also was flagged for defensive holding on a third-and-two-play in the second quarter. Williams was targeted 10 times and gave up seven completions for 98 yards.
We’ll catch up with the coordinators and have practice notes this afternoon.