The Philadelphia Eagles wowed the world during this year’s Free Agency period, but the results so far have not born out the Dream Team label plastered across their foreheads by one of their FA signings, Vince Young. They are 1-2 and living in the NFC East basement, despite having a top ten offense and a near top ten defense.
They opened the season by beating the Rams in St. Louis, which was quite nice, but have since lost to the Falcons and Giants. Losing at home to the 49ers would surely start a Fire Andy Reid rebellion in the team’s fan base. There’s probably a rebellion already started, since we’re talking about fans so notoriously nasty that they even have their own nationally recognized logo: The Philly Boo Birds. Any 49er fans attending this game had best bring a body guard and some beer-proof clothing. A kevlar vest and a hard hat wouldn’t be too far over the line.
The Eagles have no reason to think they will lose this game. The 49ers have the worst offense in the league and their top ten defense has been compiled largely from playing two teams with pitiful offenses — the Seahawks and the Bengals. In addition, the Eagles have basically slaughtered hell out of the Niners the past few years, with the Niner secondary completely overmatched by DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.
If Jim Harbaugh somehow coaxes a win out of his team this Sunday, he will be viewed around the league as a miracle worker or a magician, take your pick.
The only thing going for the 49ers next Sunday is that this seems to be the year that teams that have your number don’t. Buffalo broke the New England jinx and Detroit broke the Minnesota jinx. Both those teams are legitimately 3-0, though, and not illegitimately 2-1.
If you have surmised that I am not keen on our chances this week, you would be correct. Barring a Ted Ginn eruption or six turnovers from the Eagles, there seems little chance for us to win. The offensive line would have to suddenly gel, the pass rush would have to be awesome, the running game would have to explode, and the passing game would have to get more than 5.9 yards per attempt. In season, team wide massive turn arounds are about as frequent as an honest word from a politician’s lips.
The Eagles most vulnerable area is their offensive line, which isn’t much better than the 49ers’ line. They’ve also given up the 3rd most rushing yards in the league. In addition, Michael Vick has a swollen right hand, which could make him fumble prone or even keep him out of the game altogether. It hasn’t mattered much who’s playing QB for the them when they’ve faced the 49ers recently, since our pass rush has not been a force. That absolutely has to change this week, or we will be toast.
Frank Gore might not play in this game, which would allow us to spring Kendall Hunter on an unsuspecting Eagles team. There would no doubt be more runs to the outside with Hunter in the game, instead of the meat and potatoes smash into the line 2.5 yard effort we’ve seen all year.
If the 49ers do win this game, it will almost certainly be another ugly, blue collar, nail biter win. And if they did pull that off, there’s no telling how far this 2011 Niner team could go. In that sense, this game gives the team an opportunity to take a giant stride toward credibility in the league. And in the team’s own heart.