Our staff writers break down the San Francisco 49ers Week 8 matchup, a road game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Let's dive into the keys to the game in this "Four Downs" preview of Sunday's divisional matchup, presented by SunPower.1st Down:Who will score the 49ers first touchdown?@JoeFann: Pierre Garçon
It's supposed to be a downpour in Philadelphia on Sunday. That means Carlos Hyde is likely to be featured early and often against the Eagles. After being out-snapped by Matt Breida in Week 5 against the Indianapolis Colts, Hyde has dominated reps at running back over the past two weeks. An early deficit against the Dallas Cowboys cost Hyde a chance at a big game, and yet he still managed 68 yards on just 14 carries. Hyde's 27 receptions are also second on the team. He should be busy in Week 8.
@KeianaMartinTV: Trent Taylor
Since the offseason, Kyle Shanahan has admired Taylor's physical style of play and ability to separate and beat his man. Taylor has mustered five or more targets in four of the 49ers last five matchups. Last week, Taylor caught all five of his targets from rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard for 39 yards. I'm going to take it a step further and say that Beathard-Taylor rookie connection finds its way into the end zone on Sunday.2nd Down: Which 49ers defender will force a turnover?
@JoeFann: Reuben Foster
Foster was fairly quiet in his return to action in Week 7 against the Dallas Cowboys. Now that he's got a full game under his belt, this may be the week he settles in and starts making plays. Foster had a half-dozen interceptions in training camp and nearly had a pick-six in Week 1. My gut tells me he'll have a chance for one against Carson Wentz.
**@KeianaMartinTV**: DeForest Buckner
Last week against the Cowboys, San Francisco's second-year defensive lineman batted down back-to-back passes on the opening drive, but he wasn't able to get a sack in the game. The Eagles took a huge blow last week losing their nine-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jason Peters for the year. Philly has given up 18 sacks on the season, and "DeFo" is eager to record another one. A strip-sack and a fumble recovery on Sunday would add a jolt to the 49ers defense.3rd Down: What is the key statistic?
@JoeFann: Third-down defense
There's not much analysis to this one. The 49ers are currently allowing opposing offenses to convert on third down at a 50-percent clip. San Francisco's defense will have to get off the field in Philadelphia if the 49ers are to have any chance of getting their first win.
Last week, the 49ers committed three turnovers, two of which resulted in points for the Cowboys. San Francisco is currently tied for fifth in the league in fumbles. Ball security will be key for a 49ers offense looking to build momentum against the Eagles 20th-ranked defense.4th Down: What is your bold prediction?
@JoeFann: The 49ers win
OK, I'll bite. I know Keiana has gone this route a few times, and I'm going to give it a shot this week. Sunday's matchup has "random NFL upset" written all over it. The Eagles are the best team in the NFL and will be playing at home. San Francisco just got walloped by 30 and is 12.5-point underdogs. And yet, it's going to be ugly in Philadelphia. A powerful storm is likely to hit the city and bring heavy amounts of rain and wind. That should work in the 49ers favor.
**@KeianaMartinTV**:100 rush yards against No. 1 rushing defense
With a young quarterback in tow, San Francisco will be looking to ignite their running game. That won't be easy against an Eagles defense that is giving up the fewest rushing yards per game (67). The only time the Eagles allowed more than 100 yards on the ground occurred in their only loss this season to Kareem Hunt and the Kansas City Chiefs. I'd like to see Hyde and Co. get the ball rolling on the ground and test the Eagles run defense.