Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has left two of the three games this season due to injuries. In week two Vick suffered a concussion and in week three he bruised his right hand leaving both games early. Not surprisingly the Eagles lost both games Vick did not finish. Going back to last season Vick has 206 QB hits when dropping back for passes. This season the Eagles offensive line is similar to the 49ers offensive line in that neither can pass protect. The Eagles O-line has allowed 20 QB hits, tied for sixth most in the NFL, and five sacks this season. It is no wonder why Vick seems to get injured each week.
After the Eagles loss last week to the Giants Vick said,
“I felt I got hit late. No flag. At some point, something catastrophic is gonna happen. Not to blame the refs, but more precautions should be taken. I’m on the ground all the time in the pocket. Every time I throw the ball, I’m on the ground. I get hit in the head. I don’t know why I don’t get the 15-yard flag like everybody else does. I’m not trying to blame the refs. I just want them to take notice.”
Of course Vick said he was not criticizing the refs and he was not a complaining and I agree with him. Vick was pointing out the obvious. Not that the refs don’t throw flags but the Eagles O-line is not very good and no matter how many offensive weapons you have, if there is no protection you have no offense. Just ask the 49ers.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has shown he is not afraid to use blitz’s to get pressure on the quarterback. The 49er defense went blitz crazy in week one against Tarvaris Jackson who was making his first start with a new team, bruised up Tony Romo and his ribs in week two and brought rookie Andy Dalton back down to reality limiting him to 157 passing yards after a 300 yard performance the previous week. Fangio again will unleash his defense against a bruised up Vick by being extremely aggressive to try and force him into mistakes and having him hit the grass as much as possible. Vick has issues with his accuracy and if he thinks he might be on his back after every play that will affect not only his passes but his confidence as well.
The only way the 49ers can win on Sunday is by having a high-pressured defense on every drive. The defense has shown they can hold a lead long enough for either the special teams or the offense to win the game in the fourth quarter.
With Vick not 100% healthy the Eagles will run plenty of times during the game. The 49ers defense is ready for RB LeSean McCoy and the Eagles’ second ranked rushing attack with 182 yards per game. The 49ers defense is ranked third overall giving up 62.7 rushing yards per game. Something’s got to give in the game. My money is on the 49ers defense stopping the Eagles rushing attack who have not given up 100 rushing yards to one player in 25 straight games dating back to November 22, 2009.
Despite losing key defensive players the 49ers picked up right where they left off from last season. Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga has surprised me with how well he has played switching from defensive end to nose tackle. The emergence of LB NaVarro Bowman who has great speed and vision much like fellow linebacker Patrick Willis is a big reason for the defenses success this season. Bowman has 30 tackles this season which is tied for fourth in the NFL and had a career-high 13 tackles last week against the Bengals.
The 49ers defense is one of two teams that have not allowed a rushing touchdown this season. If the defense can extend their streak to 26 games without a 100 yard rusher and not allow a rushing touchdown the 49ers will be able to pull off the upset regardless of how Alex Smith and the offense plays.