The Philadelphia Eagles will host the San Francisco 49ers for their home opener this Sunday at The Linc.
There are a ton of storylines to keep in mind heading into this matchup. Can Jalen Hurts continue his hot start? How will Kyle Shanahan handle his two quarterback packages? Are the Eagles for real? We’ll get an answer to these questions once the clock hits triple zeros on Sunday.
Here’s everything you need to know before the Eagles and Niners kickoff at 1 p.m. in South Philly.
OUT: S Rodney McLeod (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: S Marcus Epps (concussion)
McLeod is still working his way back into the lineup after suffering a torn ACL last season. He should be ready to go within a week or two. As for Epps, his concussion occurred just minutes into last week’s contest. He’ll likely be a game time decision.
OUT: LB Dre Greenlaw (groin), RB Raheem Mostert (IR), CB Jason Verrett (IR)
DOUBTFUL: CB Emmanuel Moseley
San Francisco is entering this game banged up, especially at the cornerback position. Verrett tore his ACL last week and is done for the year. Moseley is still nursing a foot injury and doesn’t appear ready to return.
Greenlaw is another key loss for the Niners defense. He’s coming off a tremendous outing in Week 1. Mostert is out as well and will miss the season after sustaining an injury last week.
Biggest offensive threat to Philly: Shanahan’s rushing attack
If you’ve ever watched a 49ers game since Shanahan has been the head coach, you’ll know that their offense is predicated on the run game. Without it, they have trouble doing anything else.
The Eagles shut down Atlanta’s rushing attack once the game wore on last week, but Arthur Smith’s run game was lethal in the first quarter. They totaled 86 yards on the ground in the first 15 minutes of last week’s game. They failed to convert in the red zone, but that won’t happen against this 49ers offense this week.
Jonathan Gannon’s group needs to play disciplined football from the first whistle. If they allow San Fran to get in a groove on the ground, it’ll open up everything else in their offensive attack and leave the Eagles susceptible to big plays.
Tight end George Kittle and wideout Deebo Samuel are obvious threats in their own rights, but Shanahan won’t be able to get them the ball as effectively without a steady run game. The Birds front seven will need to have a big day in this one.
Biggest area of weakness for San Francisco’s offense: Wide receiver (except for Samuel)
While Deebo Samuel is a legit threat on the outside, the Niners lack a true No. 2 wideout opposite of Deebo. Brandon Aiyuk was expected to be that guy heading into the year, but he didn’t see a single target in Week 1. Some Niners beat writers have speculated that he may be in Shanahan’s dog house, or his lacking production in Week 1 may have something to do with the injury he suffered just a week or so before. No one truly knows at this point.
If Aiyuk shows up in this one, the team’s wide receiver position is much more potent. But that’s no guarantee. The Eagles have a vastly improved secondary this season. Darius Slay and Steven Nelson did a solid job last week against Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage and they should be able to find similar success facing a weaker wide receiving corps this week.
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Biggest defensive threat to Philly: 49ers defensive line
San Francisco’s biggest strength on the defensive side of the ball is their defensive line without a doubt. Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Dee Ford, among others, are a handful for any offensive line to deal with. Luckily, the Eagles have one of the better offensive lines in football, but this will still undoubtedly be a huge test for this group.
The Eagles front controlled the line of scrimmage last week. They opened up rushing lanes all day and kept Hurts upright for most of the game. The Niners defensive line got a total of 33 pressures in Week 1 against Detroit and it’s essentially what won them the game.
This Week 2 matchup between the Eagles offensive front and San Fran’s front four could decide the outcome of this game.
Biggest area of weakness for San Francisco’s defense: Secondary
Like Week 1, the Eagles will be facing a subpar secondary in the 49ers. With Verrett out and Moseley doubtful, the Niners defense will likely roll with rookie Deommodore Lenoir and Josh Norman at corner. Lenoir had a nice outing in his debut, but he’ll be facing a much tougher matchup with the Eagles wide receiving corps.
DeVonta Smith and Jalen Reagor should give this secondary fits, especially if Sirianni can scheme up high percentage throws to get the ball in their hands. The Niners secondary did do some things well in Week 1. They limited big plays, allowing only six plays over 15 yards while holding the Lions to just 3.9 air yards per completion. But again, that was all accomplished with their No. 1 corner in the lineup. Without Verrett, this San Francisco secondary is a real liability.
Sunday’s game will tell us a lot about this Eagles team. Despite the numerous injuries the Niners are dealing with, they’re well coached and still have key players healthy on both sides of the ball.
Sirianni and his team are coming off a high from their Week 1 rout. I’m anxious to see how this team plays early on. Having a let down or getting off to a slow start cannot happen in this one. Coming off such a dominating win, the Eagles are more susceptible to a lack luster start.
Nevertheless, the Eagles have key matchup advantages over San Fran and they matchup well with their strengths along the lines. It’s up to Sirianni to have his guys ready to go with a solid game plan that attacks these glaring weaknesses for San Francisco. And I think he will. I’m going with the Eagles in this one, 24-21. A 2-0 start to the season.
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