Though they’re members of different NFC divisions, the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles have become recent rivals. Sunday’s meeting at Lincoln Financial Field marks the fourth consecutive year the two teams have squared off in the regular season. The Eagles have won those three previous meetings, but the 49ers are optimistic about their chances on Sunday, especially coming off a 13-8 road win in Cincinnati. Here are five things to look for when the teams meet once more.
1. Stop Vick
Keeping Michael Vick out of the Eagles starting lineup would be the prudent thing to do. The banged-up quarterback needs to rest his injured right hand. At least, that’s what head coach Jim Harbaugh said jokingly to reporters this week in Youngstown, Ohio. “We can’t count on that,” said Harbaugh with a grin, “so we’re going to have to prepare for him.” The funny soundbite was aired on Sportscenter this week, adding more attention to an important matchup for both teams. According to former Philadelphia quarterback and current ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, Vick has been hit to the ground 45 times in three games. The talented quarterback has already suffered one concussion this season, before injuring his non-throwing hand last week in a loss to the New York Giants. The 49ers defense is determined to put together a good showing against one of the league’s top play-makers and dangerous threat for the NFL’s second-best rushing attack. “Michael Vick is a tremendous player,” linebacker
2. Gore’s Health
3. No Sacks
The 49ers began the season by not allowing a single sack in a 33-17 win over the Seattle Seahawks, but have since allowed 11 sacks in their last two contests. The 49ers offensive line struggled with communication last week, according to Roman, and will have to address those issues in a hurry against an Eagles defense that has 12 sacks this season. Roman said all of those sacks have come from Philadelphia’s defensive line, a talented group in its own right. Free agent addition Cullen Jenkins has 4.0 sacks at defensive tackle, while the team’s two ends, Jason Babin and Trent Cole have 4.0 and 3.0 sacks, respectively. It’s certainly a tough test, but one the 49ers are ready for. The 49ers made a lineup change in the second half last week when versatile lineman
4. Green Akers
5. Business Trip
It’s one thing to enjoy the serene atmosphere of Ohio for a week. It’s another thing to capitalize on the comfort, by making it a perfect 2-0 road trip. That’s exactly what the 49ers aim to Sunday. The team will be looking for consecutive road wins for the first time since 2006 when they beat Seattle (12/14) and Denver (12/31). Furthermore, a win on Sunday would be the first time the team won consecution 1 p.m. kick-offs on the East Coast since 2001. It’s never easy for West Coast teams to win early contests on the East Coast, but the 49ers aim to make it happen and staying in Ohio this week was an attempt to ensure that it happens.