Week 8 Preview – It’s Not So Sunny in Philadelphia

The 0-7 San Francisco 49ers are out of playoff contention and are looking for ways to make the most of the season. Rest assured, they want to win games and will continue to do all they can to get W’s.

At the same time, they are truly evaluating every player on the roster and will look for ways to maximize each of them as they prepare for the offseason.

What will it take for the 49ers to win this game?

When the Eagles have the ball

Quarterback Carson Wentz has been fantastic in 2017 and will likely not slow up in any way come Sunday.

Wentz is a possible MVP candidate and is 4th in the NFL in Quarterback Passer Rating with a 104.0 rating. He leads the NFL in touchdown passes with 17, has thrown only four interceptions and is 4th in yardage with 1,852.

He leads a potent passing attack comprised of receivers Nelson Agholor, Alshon Jeffrey, Torrey Smith and tight end Zach Ertz and they are killing defenses.

LeGarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood are getting it done on the ground just enough to allow Wentz to take over games.

For the 49ers to slow this offense, it all starts up front. The defensive line has to find a way to pressure Wentz several times throughout the game and force him into throwing before he’s ready.

While the offense will have to score to keep things close, it will be up to the defense to make the Eagles one-dimensional, limit penalties, and find ways to get off the field.

The pass rush will have a better chance to make an impact as starting left tackle Jason Peters will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas, and Elvis Dumervil need to find ways to pressure Wentz and keep him from picking apart the defense.

There is a change at linebacker as Eric Reid will play the WILL position this week. He has the size and speed, but it will be interesting to see if Reid can shift into a new position effectively. Reid may have the best chance of anyone at stopping Zach Ertz.

If they can keep the Eagles from making big plays to their wide receivers, it will go a long way into getting the defense off the field.

When the 49ers have the ball

Right now, the biggest problem on the 49ers is the offensive line and it isn’t close. No one is playing well. Joe Staley was beaten several times, Laken Tomlinson is a complete liability at left guard, and Trent Brown is even missing at times. If they can’t protect quarterback C.J. Beathard, there is no chance of the 49ers even being in this game.

The Niners will need to run well and that starts up front. If run lanes are created, it will be up to Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida to take advantage and do all they can to give Beathard manageable second and third downs.

Beathard needs to be able to sustain long drives and that will depend on protection and how well the ground game can be. If Beathard can operate out of an effective play-action, they will have plenty of chances to move the ball to score points.

The 49ers are still leading the NFL in penalties and in dropped passes and if the losses are going to stop, this has to be cleaned up. Pierre Garcon is the surest-handed receiver on the team and will be the focus of the Eagles’ defense on passing downs. It will be up to Marquise Goodwin, George Kittle, Trent Taylor and Aldrick Robinson to make plays and hang onto the football if the 49ers are to have a chance in this game.

The Bottom Line

This is going to be a very difficult game to win, but it is possible. Once again, San Francisco will have to play a perfect game.

The most likely scenario, however, is that the Eagles make plays on offense, draw early penalties to set themselves up for the early lead, something that the Niners have allowed all season.

0-8 is likely going to be a harsh reality and that means the Niners will have to look elsewhere for their first victory.

Click HERE for Matt’s latest podcast with former 49ers running back Dexter Carter as they review the Dallas game, preview the Eagles game, and talk about the 49ers’ honoring of Dwight Clark last Sunday.

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