49ers Vs. Eagles: A Fan’s Prediction

The 49ers have the better record, but on paper, this is a colossal mismatch in favor of the Eagles.

San Francisco couldn’t move the ball against the Bengals for three quarters. I expect more of the same from this unit Sunday against Philadelphia. Alex Smith has no chance against the Eagles vicious pass rush and All-Pro secondary.

Meanwhile, the 49ers can’t cover Desean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin. Don’t believe me? Just ask Miles Austin. No matter who starts at quarterback (Michael Vick is likely to start), the Eagles have amazing team speed and will put up huge chunks of yardage. Andy Reid is a great offensive coach and he will find a way to outsmart Vic Fangio.

So how will the 49ers be able to stay in the game?

Keys to the game

Win the turnover battle
It’s already been established that the 49ers can’t move the ball like the Eagles. But they can get the Eagles in some third and longs and force turnovers. That’s been the 49ers strength so far — the 49ers are a plus-6 this season in turnover margin. If that trend doesn’t continue, they will get annihilated.

Dominate special teams
The 49ers will need either a touchdown from special teams or great field position all day. Fortunately, the 49ers are already winning the special teams game week in and week out. Andy Lee is putting together an amazing season and Ted Ginn Jr. is an elite punt returner. The 49ers will need to put together a special teams performance like they did against the Seahawks in Week 1.

Average at least 5 yards per carry on the ground
The Eagles struggle to stop the run and the 49ers struggle to run the ball. Something has to give. As said before, Smith has no chance in third and longs against this defense. Michael Crabtree will never get open against the Eagles corners. I wouldn’t be surprised if Philadelphia puts Nnamdi Asomugha on Vernon Davis to shut him down. The point is, the 49ers have to run the ball at an amazing rate. Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter need to have a great performance.

The 49ers can run, but they can’t hide Alex Smith. Unless San Francisco dominates the turnover battle and special teams, this one will get ugly. I predict that the Eagles will get an early lead and force Smith into multiple turnovers.

Eagles 30 49ers 9

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