The Philadelphia Eagles are hosting the San Francisco 49ers in their home opener at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. In order to preview this Week 2 matchup, I reached out to our enemies over at Niners Nation. The knowledgeable Kyle Posey (also of The SB Nation NFL Show fame) kindly took the time to answer my questions about this upcoming tilt. Let’s take a look at his answers. (Don’t forget to also check out my side of the exchange coming up at NN.)
1 - The 49ers were dominating in Week 1 prior to allowing the Lions to get back into the game with a chance to tie at the end. Why did that happen (I saw you said Jason Verrett’s injury was a factor) and to what extent is that concerning moving forward?
I think it was a combination of a few different things. The score was 41-17 and the 49ers pulled their starters. The backups gave up a couple of scores. An onside kick bounced off George Kittle’s facemask after the defense had already been on the field for a four-minute touchdown drive. Then, the emotional factor of having to turn it back on after seeing Verrett go down all factored in.So why? A combination of taking your foot off the gas, backups playing, and losing a key starter who has fought back from multiple season-ending injuries.
The most concerning part would be downgrading athletically from Verrett. The 49ers are staring at starting at one of Josh Norman or Dre Kirkpatrick. Two veterans that have “been there,” but two veterans who were available in September.
2 - What do you make of how the 49ers are handling the quarterback position? Should they just be starting Trey Lance? How much of a rotation should we expect to see?
I’m not sure what the plan is and I’m not sure the team does either. Lance played four snaps and had three designed runs. Sure, he threw a touchdown pass and it looks great in the stat sheet, but nobody feels like Lance “developed” after one game. It’s tough to wrap my head around a third and long carry.
On the one hand, Lance hasn’t proven he’s better than Jimmy Garoppolo. On the other, based on what we saw Week 1, you’d think the No. 3 overall pick would be able to go out and complete the passes Jimmy G did against Detroit. As long as Garoppolo plays well, it’ll be tough to find the right times during the game to get Lance some reps.At the same time, you can’t pull Garoppolo after his first mistake. That’s not how this works. Gradually, we should see more Lance. To what extend I don’t think Kyle Shanahan even knows that answer.
3 - What is the 49ers’ biggest strength? How should they be attacking the Eagles?
I would have said the defensive line last week or any other week and while that remains true, I think we need to give the 49ers offensive line just as much credit. Them and George Kittle dominated the Lions and gave Elijah Mitchell plenty of running lanes while protecting Jimmy Garoppolo and giving him a clean pocket to manage from.I’d be lying to you if I didn’t mention Nick Bosa and Dee Ford. The team is crazy deep along the defensive line but it’s these two edge rushers who single-handedly can ruin your drive — just ask Detroit.
To answer your question, it’s the trenches on both sides of the ball.
4 - What is the 49ers biggest weakness? What should the Eagles be looking to exploit?
It has to be the secondary, especially now that Jason Verrett is down. That’s not the only starter the 49ers are missing, though. Emmanuel Moseley has been in and out of the lineup during the summer and missed Week 1. Moseley didn’t practice on Wednesday and if he can’t go on Thursday, a fifth-round rookie who lacks top-end speed and Josh Norman will face DeVonta Smith and Jalen Reagor. That’s advantage Eagles.
One of the 49ers biggest strengths is their team speed on both sides of the ball. If your corners can’t run, aren’t sudden, or confident, it’s a recipe for disaster. Based on how well Smith played Week 1, I’m terrified of what he’ll do to San Francisco.
5 - Who wins this game and why? Score prediction? And what are your expectations for the rest of this 49ers season?
I think Philadelphia gives the 49ers defense problems with their athletes. Philly being good on both lines will keep this game close. Ultimately, I don’t put much stock into beating the Falcons as they aren’t a real team and it seemed like they quit early on in that game.
I like that the Niners have seen a mobile QB all summer in Trey Lance to prepare for a mobile QB in Hurts. I liked what Hurts did Week 1 but don’t think he was asked to do much. Let’s see him face some adversity and a defense that’s fast with good pass rushers. I’ll take the 49ers to win 24-20.
There’s so much talent on the roster that the 49ers are good enough to overcome the loss of Verrett and potentially Moseley. San Francisco should make the playoffs, be among one of the better teams in the league before ultimately falling in the second round of the playoffs. I think it’d be a disappointment if this team didn’t make the playoffs.