49ers vs. Eagles live blog: Pregame

SANTA CLAR A — This is the live blog for the pregame of the 49ers’ Week 4 game against the Eagles. I will update this frequently with information and analysis from the press box.

11:00 Keys to the game:

1. Pass protection. Which team can protect its quarterback the best?

2. Conditioning of the 49ers’ Nickel defense. Will the Eagles’ up-tempo spread offense tire out Justin Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Ray McDonald, Jimmie Ward, Chris Culliver, Perrish Cox, Patrick Willis, Michael Wilhoite, Eric Reid, Antoine Bethea and Corey Lemonier?

3. Rotating defensive players. Vic Fangio should suit up every backup defensive back and every backup defensive lineman. If Fangio has to deactivate a backup linebacker (Nick Moody or Chris Borland) to make room, so be it. The starting Nickel D must take plays off to stay fresh for the fourth quarter.

4. Covering Darren Sproles. Fangio can’t let Chip Kelly match up Sproles against one of the 49ers’ linebackers in the passing game. Fangio better get a safety or cornerback to cover Sproles.

5. Suspect secondaries. Expect big pass plays and few punts.

6. Red zone difficulties. Neither team has a serious red-zone running game, so field goals will determine the winner, and the Eagles will have more opportunities than the 49ers.

Prediction: 49ers 30, Eagles 34.

12:04 Vernon Davis is warming up, jogging and catching passes over his shoulder.

12:06 Vernon Davis is active. Vance McDonald is not. Other than him, the 49ers’ inactives are Josh Johnson, Quinton Patton, Tramaine Brock, Dillon Farrell, Marcus Martin and Tank Carradine. Carradine must be terrible if the 49ers won’t suit him up for THIS game.

12:08 The Eagles’ inactives are Matt Barkley, Josh Huff, Jaylen Watkins, Jason Kelce, Kevin Graf, Mychal Kendricks and Taylor Hart.

12:09 Emmanuel Acho will start at inside linebacker for Kendricks.

12:10 The Eagles’ starting offensive line: LT Jason Peters, LG Matt Tobin, C David Molk, RG Dennis Kelly, RT Todd Herremans.

12:17 Greg Roman and Chip Kelly have been talking to each other for 15 minutes at midfield near the Eagles’ sideline while Jim Harbaugh has been standing by himself near the 49ers’ sideline. Roman and Kelly seem quite fond of one another.

12:28 Instead of trading down to pick No.40 in 2013 to draft Tank Carradine, the 49ers could have stayed put at pick No.34 and drafted Giovani Bernard.

  1. Since you tend to rely on meaningless counting stats like Yards Per Game and Points Per Game, here are the important matchup stats for people:

    Rush Defense DVOA:
    Eagles: 3rd
    49ers: 14th

    Pass Defense DVOA:
    Eagles: 21st
    49ers: 18th

    Total Defense DVOA:
    Eagles: 7th
    49ers: 21st

    Rush Offense DVOA:
    Eagles: 29th
    49ers: 12th

    Pass Offense DVOA:
    Eagles: 8th
    49ers: 15th

    Total Offense DVOA:
    Eagles: 12th
    49ers: 10th

    Special Teams DVOA:
    Eagles: 3rd
    49ers: 22nd

    TOTAL DVOA:
    Eagles: 8th
    49ers: 18th
    Eagles:

    1. DVOA is actually pretty useless this early in the season. Small sample sizes and all. For example, Bills are the 6th best team in the NFL according to DVOA. Washington the 9th.

  2. don’t say Tank is terrible you’ll be upsetting a lot of people’s feelings as most around here have already anointed him as Justin Smiths replacement

    1. Scooter, why do you think he cannot play ST right now? The guy is pretty athletic for his size. Is he really not that smart of a player???

      1. I’ve no idea ricardo. Maybe a lack of desire to do anything other than play DL? STs is as much about attitude and desire as it is athletic ability.

        It may also be the 49ers are worried about how his knee would hold up.

        Whatever the reason, he needs to convince the coaches to let him play STs or he’ll be riding the pine until injuries force the 49ers hand.

        1. I hope the team is just worried about his knee. But can we just activate him on game day and just put him on obvious passing play? We need better pass rushing capability than anything else IMO.

          1. It wouldn’t help much if he doesn’t fully grasp the play book Richardo. He could mistakenly rush when he should be dropping back into coverage or vice versa.

            1. I hear you Mid and that’s why you only put him on a 3rd and long situation and you tell him go get that QB. I never played football but I don’t think that is too much to ask. Don’t you think so?

      2. I think it’s more that the team doesn’t want to risk a high pick that is at the moment classified as injury – prone playing on STs Richardo.

          1. Going to try to Scooter, although I actually hadn’t planned on it since I was supposed to work today, but my medical condition had other plans. Not that that’s a bad thing. ;-) I just can’t yell at any bad calls or jump up from my chair.

  3. Prediction.
    Eagles 34
    SF 23
    It is a close game until late in the 3rd when the 9ers defense gets worn out and demoralized from watching the offense settle for field goals off of the short fields the D gave them early in the game from turn overs. The Pass rush goes and the niners give up multiple tds in the 4th.

  4. “Instead of trading down to pick No.40 in 2013 to draft Tank Carradine, the 49ers could have stayed put at pick No.34 and drafted Giovani Bernard.”

    Nah, they should have taken Kawann Short, like I said at the time.

      1. Yeah, he would have been good too, but they would have missed out on Reid then. Short was taken at #44 – they could have taken him instead of Tank at #40.

        Short finished 10th among interior DL in terms of pass rush productivity last year according to PFF, and is in the top 10 again through 3 weeks this season. I’ve seen PFF has him ranked as the #2 DT through 3 weeks.

          1. Sacks are just 1 part of pass rush, Grant. He generates pressure down the middle which creates sacks for his outside men by not allowing the QB to step up.

  5. Kansas let go of Charlie Weis earlier today. I’m surprised the media hasn’t already attempted to link Harbaugh to that program.

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