Date & Time: October 4th – 8:20 P.M.
Location: Santa Clara, CA – Levi Stadium
Philadelphia: JJ Arcega-Whiteside (Doubtful), DeSean Jackson (OUT), Avonte Maddox (OUT), Alshon Jeffery (OUT), Trevor Williams (OUT), Jason Peters (OUT), Dallas Goedert (OUT)
San Francisco: K’Waun Williams (Questionable), Dee Ford (OUT), Dre Greenlaw (OUT), Emmanuel Moseley (OUT), Raheem Mostert (OUT), Jordan Reed (OUT), Ahkello Witherspoon (OUT), Jimmy Garoppolo (OUT)
Both of these teams are extremely banged up. One is without it’s starting quarterback and the other is missing pieces along the offensive line and in the wide receiver room. For Philadelphia, this is an absolute must-win game on Sunday night. This team cannot afford to fall to 0-3-1. It’s been almost 3 years since these teams matched up. Here’s the preview of this injury riddled matchup:
This is a depleted unit for Philadelphia. They are missing the following positional starters: Left tackle, Right Guard, Left Guard, X wide receiver, Z wide receiver, and second tight end (important because of offensive personnel the Eagles deploy).
Along the offensive line, Jordan Mialata will make his first career start at left tackle. He will likely be matched up with the 49ers right defensive end, Kerry Hyder Jr. Hyder Jr. has generated 6 pressure through 4 games along with 3 QB knockdowns and 2 sacks. Mialata will have his work cut out for him on Sunday night.
The Eagles starters at wide receiver will likely be Greg Ward, John Hightower and Deontay Burnett. Travis Fulgham was elevated to the main roster earlier in the week and the team signed Hakeem Butler as a tight end, but he’s unlikely to play as he’s still learning the playbook.
The way to move the ball against this Niners defense for the Eagles should be to ride Miles Sanders in the passing game and running game. Sanders had several good wheel routes last week against the Cincinnati linebackers. Sanders is dealing with a glute injury but he says he’s 100%. Sanders is averaging 5.0 yards per carry and the Niners are giving up 4.4 yards per carry. If Sanders gets going early, Doug Pederson cannot afford to go away from him.
For Carson Wentz, this is another matchup where he’ll have an opportunity to flip the script. He’s missing 5 of his top offensive targets but the 49ers will be without their top 3 cornerbacks. Doug Pederson spoke about wanting to, “unclutter” the mind of his quarterback. The ways to do this include using tempo, allowing Wentz to play to his strengths (i.e. getting him out of the pocket), and sticking with the running game if its working and mixing in the play action pass game off that. For Wentz the key in this game will be his ability to trust his targets outside of Greg Ward and Zach Ertz. Specifically John Hightower, who has gotten open on intermediate routes and quick passing concepts such as outs, drags and slants. It’s up to Wentz to play with the guys he has and get them the ball
Make no mistake about it, this is still a tough matchup for the Eagles offense. The Niners allowed only 9 points against an abysmal Giants offense. They are missing pieces on their pass rush, as well as their secondary but they are still a dangerous unit.
The Eagles are missing their number 2 and 3 cornerbacks. Cre’von Leblanc will likely start outside and draw either Kendrick Bourne or Brandon Aiyuk in coverage. Deebo Samuel has been reported to be active for this game and will likely be on a snap count as he returns from injury. Trent Taylor may get a lot of action in this game. This is a matchup that will seemingly work in favor of Nickell Robey-Coleman, as Taylor is 5’8 just like Robey-Coleman.
Kyle Shanahan will attack the Eagles linebackers. George Kittle is back in the lineup. If the Niners get in the redzone and Kittle is on the field, a touchdown is almost guaranteed. Nate Gerry has appeared completely unaware at times on the field this season. This matchup spells disaster for the Eagles defense.
Elsewhere on offense, the 49ers are starting Nick Mullens. Mullens had 343 yards and a touchdown last week against the abysmal Giants. He was sacked twice and was pressured on 34.2% of his dropbacks. As a whole the Niners offensive line has given up 34 pressures through 4 weeks. They’ve given up 8 sacks and 19 QB hits. The Eagles defensive line sacked Joe Burrow 8 times and pressured him 12 times. This is an area where the Eagles defense can really wreck this game (Fletcher Cox, times yours).
Doug Pederson has his work cut out for him, as does Jim Schwartz. This is yet another season since the magical 2017 run where the Eagles are facing adversity early on in the year. Pederson has somehow managed to press the right buttons and prove doubters wrong whenever his team’s backs are against the wall. Time will tell if Pederson can do the same this time around. Schematically and coaching wise, offensively Pederson has to be more creative and fluid with his playcalling. He has to stick with what gets hot and help his quarterback. Defensively, Jim Schwartz has to let his guys hunt. Don’t overthink it and let his guys attack a unit that hasn’t been good so far in 2020.
For the 49ers, Kyle Shanahan has simply gotten the job done so far this season. He’s coached the players that were active and he hasn’t let up or made excuses. Expect Shanahan to attempt to attack the Eagles weaknesses and when he finds something he can exploit (THE LINEBACKERS IN SPACE), he will stay on it.
This will be a low scoring affair between two injury riddled rosters. One team is simply better than the other at the moment.
Bold Prediction: The Eagles defense gets a turnover
Pick: 49ers 20, Eagles 16