49ers vs. Eagles: 5 challenges San Francisco faces in Week 2
By Peter Panacy
The 49ers wrap up their two-game road trip in Week 2 against a surprising Eagles squad that could present challenges to the red and gold.
The San Francisco 49ers were expected to be 1-0 after the opening week of the 2021 regular season.
And while the Philadelphia Eagles weren’t an automatic to also be 1-0 after facing off against the also-lowly Atlanta Falcons in Week 1, Philly’s dominant 32-6 win down south was certainly a big enough statement to convince head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. that the Week 2 bout for the Niners at Lincoln Financial Field won’t be an easy one.
Particularly if San Francisco is trying to stave off yet another late-game desperate comeback, like it did against the Detroit Lions last Sunday.
The 49ers are already dealing with serious challenges early this year, highlighted by losing starters like running back Raheem Mostert and cornerback Jason Verrett, to season-ending injuries.
The back end of a multi-week road trip is never easy either.
Yet there are more concrete challenges Shanahan’s squad will face this week, particularly these five that could present serious obstacles to the Niners starting off the year 2-0.
No. 5: 49ers could again have problems with Eagles RB Miles Sanders
A year ago, a hapless Eagles squad frustrated San Francisco en route to a 25-20 upset win at Levi’s Stadium.
One of the key reasons why was due to the 49ers having all kinds of problems with running back Miles Sanders, who accounted for 76 all-purpose yards on 15 total touchdowns during that game.
True, the Niners defense was already banged up by that point in the season, but Sanders’ ability to impact the game was clearly visible. And he did much of the same again versus the Falcons in Week 1, hauling in four passes for 39 yards while adding 74 rush yards and averaging 4.9 yards per carry.
San Francisco’s inability to stop interior runs, evidenced against Detroit, could present a big opportunity for Sanders to pick up chunk gains in the middle of the field. And with first-year defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans still learning how to properly deploy his linebackers, Sanders might also be an effective weapon out of the backfield to bolster quarterback Jalen Hurts‘ passing efforts.
None of this is to say Sanders will take over this Week 2 bout. But if Philadelphia finds a way to win, Sanders will likely be a prime reason why.