How the San Francisco 49ers might attack the Eagles on Sunday
The Philadelphia Eagles will be facing a much tougher opponent this Sunday when they host the San Francisco 49ers for their home opener. San Fran has had a rough start to their season but don’t let that fool you. They are still one of the stronger teams in the NFL. While it is still a winnable football game, by all means, it will be a much closer game than Week One.
Looking back at their season opener against the Detroit Lions, the San Francisco 49ers have similar traits to the Atlanta Falcons offense. The only difference is the 49ers are incredibly better at executing their game plan.
One of the most significant similarities is their commitment to the run game. Even with Raheem Mostert out, Eli Mitchell still was a workhorse averaging 5.5 yards a carry with over 19 rushes on Sunday. The 49ers used many heavy formations with fullback Kyle Juszczyk in the backfield as the lead blocker on many plays.
The Atlanta Falcons killed the Eagles in the run game, but they sputtered in the endzone. Eventually, the Eagles expanded their lead so much that the Falcons couldn’t rely on the run game to close the gap. Kyle Shanahan could likely work Eli Mitchell heavy again to wear down the Eagles’ defense on Sunday.
Another thing to watch for when the Eagles are on defense is dominant tight end, George Kittle. Kittle is one of the best tight ends in football and had an okay showing against the Lions. Philly did pretty well against the Falcons 12 personnel in the passing game, but Kittle is much better than Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hurst.
One route tree that hurt the Eagles was when Matt Ryan attacked the sidelines with 5-10 yard out routes with Pitts and company. These routes worked as a bit of a zone beater against the linebackers and corners.
Early on against Detroit, Jimmy Garoppolo ran these same routes and worked perfectly in the redzone. It wouldn’t be a staple of their game plan, but it could be something they go to on third-down situations.
The 49ers have struggled with injuries severely on the defensive side of the football to start the 2021 season. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw is out for Sunday while cornerback Jason Verrett is done for the season after tearing his ACL. Dee Ford, Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw, Emmanuel Mosley, and Marcel Harris are all questionable for Week Two as well.
Still, Fred Warner and Nick Bosa are healthy and will cause numerous problems for this Philadelphia Eagles offense. Detroit ran a lot of tight sets, which caused the 49ers to stack the box often, running a 4-3 nickel defense for most of the game. Fred Warner will cause many disruptions in the run game, so Jalen Hurts might be forced to pass the ball for most of the game.
Week Two will come down to Jalen Hurts once again, and the big question is, will he play just as composed against a much more formidable defense. The 49ers have a strong front seven when healthy, and it wouldn’t be shocking if they threw blitz packages to throw Hurts off his rhythm early on.
Overall, the Eagles have a good shot at winning their second straight but will need to play mistake-free football. This could be tough for a team learning a new offense and defense, but they showed no hiccups against the Falcons.
Being at home will also help the birds tremendously. If Hurts plays like he did against the Falcons, there’s no reason to think they can’t pull off another win at the Linc.
Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports