EAGLES EXPECT A HANDFUL OF RAIN AND A TOUGH 49ERS TEAM ON SUNDAY
If you look at the San Francisco 49ers’ 0-7 record you may think “how can the Eagles lose to these guys?”
If you look at their record closely, you can see how the Birds could lose to these guys.
The 49ers are a solid team that simply hasn’t closed out games this year.
San Francisco is winless but has had very close games against teams in five of their seven losses including The Seahawks (12-9), Rams (41-39), Cardinals (18-15), Colts (26-23) and Radskins (26-24).
The Eagles had a costly win over Washington last week. The Birds lost future Hall of Fame left tackle Jason Peters and their top linebacker Jordan Hicks for the season due to injury.
The weather is forecast to be heavy rains throughout the afternoon. Any Eagles fan who has added this to the win column should hold their horses.
The Birds will need Halapoulivaati Vaitai to step up and play well at left tackle where he has been named starter.
Head coach Doug Pederson said he, offensive coordinator Frank Reich and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland thought about moving right tackle Lane Johnson over to left tackle and put Vaitai at right tackle where he played most of his minutes as an Eagle. Johnson is the heir apparent to the left tackle spot once Peters retires. But they all agreed to just mess with one spot rather than two.
“We had conversations, ‘we’ being myself, Stoutland, and Frank Reich, had conversations earlier in the week,” Pederson said. “We want to do what’s best for that group and for us offensively. Really right now Lane Johnson is playing extremely well at the right side. Didn’t want to disrupt two positions. So it made sense to keep V [Vaitai] over on the left side.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles will no doubt lean on linebackers Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks to pick up the slack for Jordan, who wore the helmet that receives the play calls from defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. The two combined for 25 tackles against Carolina a few weeks ago after Hicks left the game with a leg injury.
Bradham was asked if he was the guy.
“Sure, (I’ll be) a lot more vocal,” Bradham said. “Bringing a lot vocal-cality. Each game is going to be very important.”
Braham was asked he will be more involved in calling defensive plays. Hicks was given that duty when he walked in door as a rookie out of Texas.
“Yeah, that’s what its been so far,” Bradham said. “When situations happen in a game. I’m pretty sure we’ll keep it the same. It’s been working for us, so hopefully we’ll keep it up.”
Bradham said the team was still feeling the sting from learning Hicks was lost for the year.
“It hurts man,” Braham said. “To lose a guy like that. Obviously a huge leader who had an impact on our defense. It hurts to see one of your guys work so hard and does everything right, comes to work every day, motivates us every day ad just leads us every day. It hurts to see him go down.”
How often during spring and summer workout has Bradham and Mychal Kendricks been on the field together at the same time?
“Really not that much,” Bradham said. “It started happening more when the season started and we had the situation when Jordan got hurt the first time. But we’ll play hard and we’ll communicate. We’ve got to keep this thing going, we’ve got to keep it rolling.”
The Eagles depth at linebacker is now being tested more than ever. Bradham talked about injuries to the team and how the Eagles will need the younger players to step up.
“It definitely takes a toll on us,” Bradham said. “But we’ve got guys like (rookie) Nate Gerry is stepping in. I’m sure he’s going to be ready to play. Kamu (Grugier-Hill), as you know, is tremendous on special teams. He’ll be ready to play when he gets the opportunity on defense. We still kinda strong and solid.”
According to Bradham, the Eagles will not take the 49ers for granted.
“Oh no definitely not,” Bradham said. “We’re definitely not looking ahead. We’re focused on them, we’re focused on the 49ers. We’ve got to play it that way. We know they’re trying to get their first win. We just have to make sure it’s not us.”
The 49ers will likely start rookie C.J. Beathard at quarterback. The former Iowa standout has not been productive going 41 of 74 for 480 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the three games he has played.
The 49ers have a good running back in Carlos Hyde (38 carries, 428 yards, four TDs) and a solid receiving corps.
“He seems like he’s a good quarterback,” Bradham said. “He’s got some great receivers who are abe to take the top off in (Marquise) Goodwin and (Pierre) Garcon, whose a big, powerful guy. I remember him last year when he was in our division. So he (Beathard) has some talent around him. The running backs are running well and the offensive line is pretty good. So he’s got some talent around him. He’s going to make plays. We’ve got to eliminate everything.”
Safety Rodney McLeod said the Eagles defense is preparing for the rain and the 49ers offense, ranked No. 17 out of 32 teams by ESPN.com.
“We’re still preparing for everything,” McLeod said Thursday at his locker. “There’s no telling what the weather is going to be on Sunday. They are calling for a lot of rain. It might be a heavy run game for them. They’ve have a good running back over there in (Carlos) Hyde so we’ve got to expect that. They like to run the ball and stay ahead of the chains so that’s all expected but we’ve still got to prepare for everything that they’ve shown and be ready for Sunday.”
McLeod was asked how he blocks out a team’s record and avoids profiling the opponent to be an easy mark.
“I just treat it as the next opponent coming in to oue home field,” McLeod said. “They’re the next team on the schedule and we’ve got to prepare just like that. We can’t treat them any different based on their record. They’ve had a lot of close games that have come down to the last yard. We know what to expect. They’re and offensive team. We’re going to have our hands full on Sunday.”
He isn’t kidding you.
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii