The 49ers did not travel back to the West coast after last weeks game in Cincinnati as Jim Harbaugh had the team set up shop in Youngstown, Ohio for the week so the 49ers did not have to travel cross-country two weeks in a row. The 49ers will need all the help they can get going up against the Eagles on Sunday as they face their toughest opponent of the season so far. Injuries on both teams could be the reason why one of the teams comes out on top. The 49ers are looking to start a winning streak and extend a lead in the NFC West. The Eagles are coming off of two straight losses and the “Dream Team” does not want to start the season 1-3. Here are five things to watch out for in the 49ers vs. Eagles game.
Michael Vick’s Injury
Whether it’s the lack of pass protection from the Eagles offensive line or defensive players getting dirty hits on Vick that are not called for a penalty by the refs, the quarterback is in a fragile state. Vick suffered a concussion in week two and broke bruised his right hand in week three, so you know the 49ers defense will bring extra pressure to get hits on the quarterback. Vick throws left handed but if his right hand is not 100% he will not be able to fully grip snaps and throw, which means turnovers for the 49ers defense.
49ers Offensive Line
As much as the Eagles may have offensive line woes, the 49ers trump them. With right guard Chilo Rachal most likely out of the starting lineup after last weeks bad play, expect backup Andy Snyder to start and hopefully do a better job. The problems with the 49ers O-line is not on any one player, but every starter on the line. Even franchise player Joe Staley is having troubles at left tackle. If the offensive line wants to prove they are not as bad as they have shown, playing well against a very good Eagles defensive front-seven would be a great time to start.
Frank Gore’s Injury
Frank Gore is expected to play on Sunday but his ankle is not 100%. Harbaugh will play Gore early in the game to test his ankle and see if he can be effective. If Gore is showing any signs of the ankle limiting him, Harbaugh should not hesitate to go to Kendall Hunter for a majority of the carries. The 49ers offense will need to make something out of every possession in the game and an ineffective and injured Gore will not accomplish anything.
Winning in Philly
The 49ers winning last week on the road was a big deal even though it was against the Bengals. Before last weeks win the last the time the 49ers won a non-divisional game on the road was in the 2009 season. A win in Philly will not only give the 49ers confidence playing on the road but more importantly a win will make the 49ers 3-1 and show they are contenders by beating one of the strongest teams in the NFC.
49ers Wide Receivers vs. Eagles Secondary
Even if Michael Vick is knocked out of the game with an injury the 49ers still have to score against a very good Eagles defense. The heart of the Eagles defense is in the secondary with Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The 49ers will be without Braylon Edwards who has an injury and Michael Crabtree is expected to play although he is not 100% with a foot injury so the 49ers will be short at receivers. Alex Smith is most effective at the short routes so using Crabtree with quick slants could be the best way to utilize him against a stout Eagles secondary. Look for Vernon Davis to be the focal point of the passing game again over the middle regardless if he is double teamed or not. The Eagles may have a great secondary but Davis provides a mismatch the 49ers can exploit. Look for under the radar WR Joshua Morgan to contribute significantly to the passing game.