The Philadelphia Eagles (0-2-1) and the San Francisco 49ers (2-1) are set to play each other this Sunday night at Levi’s Stadium. In order to preview this Week 4 matchup, I reached out to our enemies over at Niners Nation. The knowledgeable Kyle Posey kindly took the time to answer my questions about the upcoming contest. Let’s take a look at the answers.
1 - The 49ers blew out the Giants despite being injured af. How did they do that and what’s the injury situation looking like for this week’s game?
While San Francisco has 49 injured players, they still have a ton of good ones, and Sunday proved that. It also proved that both head coach Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh can adapt and put their players in positions to succeed. The defense, aside from a couple of long runs courtesy of Danny Dimes, didn’t allow much of anything. They blitzed him a bunch, and New York didn’t have an answer. On offense, it was a lot of play-action passes, and the Giants fell for them every time. If you have a bad linebacker, Shanahan will exploit and humiliate him all game. That’s what happened.
2 - On a scale of 1 (least confident) to 10 (most confident), what’s your level of confidence in the 49ers going into a game with Jimmy G at QB? And then how about with Nick Mullens?
I’d say about a 6. Last year it was through the roof, and it was obvious the 49ers were the best team every time they’d take the field. This year, injuries have hit the team pretty hard, and we’ve yet to see a game where everyone is healthy. We won’t for the rest of the year, but it’ll probably be a few more weeks, maybe even a month, until all of the players return from injury. I say “6” because I want to see how the banged-up defense does against a quality offense. I also want to see what happens when the 49ers get down and are forced to play from behind. As I said in the previous question, they have good coaches and good players, so they’ll always be competitive, but the 49ers haven’t played a good team yet.
3 - What is the 49ers’ biggest strength? How should they be attacking the Eagles?
Coaching. Shanahan and Saleh always have this team prepared. It helps to have a bunch of good players who execute, but Kyle is a wizard as a play-caller, and Saleh has been forced to get more aggressive with injuries to Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, and that has helped the defense. I’m in the mindset that you blitz young quarterbacks as the reward far outweighs the risk. I think we see a good amount of blitzes against Carson Wentz. On offense, hello, Nate Gerry.
4 - What is the 49ers’ biggest weakness? What should the Eagles be looking to exploit?
The 49ers’ biggest weakness is easy. It’s their offensive line. It’s been bizarre. Multiple players are struggling, and it’s not as if they lack talent upfront. Three first-round picks are starters. Statistically, the 49ers have one of the worst offensive lines in the league, but that also matches up with the eye test. For whatever reason, they haven’t been able to get their running game going. Play-action has helped against the pass rush, but the line has made players who aren’t good look like stars. Philly’s defensive line has a significant advantage in this game, and that’s probably the biggest area where most fans are concerned. Fletcher Cox going against the 49ers interior line could spell fora disaster.
5 - Who wins this game and why? Score prediction? And what are your expectations for the rest of the 49ers’ season?
I like the 49ers in a somewhat sloppy one, 23-17. I believe Philly’s pass rush will make life difficult for the 49ers consistently, but also like Brandon Aiyuk to have a big game against the Eagles secondary. The difference in this one will be Wentz staying on tradition and throwing the ball to the other team. The expectations change every week. After last week, I have San Francisco making the playoffs, despite half of the team being injured. They have a brutal stretch coming up here against five definite playoff teams, so we’ll learn more about the Niners then. They’ve been resilient and prepared, which is a good sign. The hope is they’re healthy to go through the “gauntlet” of their schedule.