Gameday: Eagles @ 49ers

The Philadelphia Eagles looked like they could be one of the NFL’s elite teams before stumbling in their last two games. Injuries to Brian Westbrook aren’t helping their cause.

The Eagles will be missing their star running back for the second time in three weeks Sunday when they visit the San Francisco 49ers in hopes of avoiding a third straight defeat and an even bigger deficit in the loaded NFC East.
Westbrook returned from a one-game absence due to an ankle injury last Sunday, finishing with 33 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries and six catches for 51 yards in Philadelphia’s 23-17 home loss to Washington. He played the entire game despite breaking two ribs, which will sideline him this week.

“Brian wants to go. He’s in the mind-set that he wants to play, but it’s a decision that I’ve got to make,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said Friday. “He’s a tough nut and I know that. I’ve got to do what I think is best for him and the football team down the road. It made the decision a little easier for me than it is for him. Obviously, he wants to contribute and compete.”

Westbrook led the NFL with 2,104 scrimmage yards in 15 games in 2007 and is tied for the league lead this season with six total touchdowns despite missing the Eagles’ Week 4 loss at Chicago.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Westbrook said. “You try to go out there, you want to be as healthy as possible and produce for your team. When you’re out there and you keep getting injured and keep getting nicked up, it’s tough to handle that type of thing.”

Without Westbrook, the Eagles (2-3) could have a hard time bouncing back from consecutive disheartening defeats that derailed their strong start.

Philadelphia opened the season with a dominating 38-3 victory over St. Louis before falling short in a 41-37 loss at Dallas in a matchup of NFC East favorites in Week 2. The Eagles got back on track as their defense carried them to a 15-6 victory over Pittsburgh in Week 3, but have lost their last two to Chicago and Washington by a combined 10 points.

“I was embarrassed these last two weeks,” quarterback Donovan McNabb said Sunday after Philadelphia blew a 14-0 lead by getting outscored 23-3 in the last three quarters. “I mean, to two teams we shouldn’t have lost to. When you make mistakes and you don’t capitalize on opportunities, things like this happen. … You find yourself here wondering why.”

The Eagles have scored 38 points in the second halves of their first five games, compared to 89 points before halftime. They’ve totaled only nine second-half points in their last two games.

Those recent struggles have put the Eagles in an early hole in the NFC East, widely considered the league’s best division. They’re in last place with two fewer wins than each of their division rivals.

“It’s going to be tough for us, but we’re going to continue to fight,” Westbrook said. “We’re not going to quit.”

The 49ers (2-3) were making similar statements after they were held to a season-low 199 total yards and outscored 23-7 in the final three quarters of their 30-21 loss to New England last Sunday.

“We’ve just got to play as one,” said running back Frank Gore, who had 54 yards on 12 carries and caught a touchdown pass. “We’ve got a lot of great talent in here, but we’ve just got to get over the hump.”

San Francisco committed three turnovers last week and has totaled 11 in three losses, compared to one in two wins.

An inconsistent J.T. O’Sullivan is one reason the Niners have lost their last two games. The first-year starter has completed less than half of his pass attempts in that span while throwing five interceptions.

Though the 49ers missed a chance to get a signature win over a high-profile team like New England, they’ll get another chance to prove their mettle against the Eagles, who are still considered an NFC contender.

“I think we lost a game that we should have won today, (and) I think everybody feels like that,” defensive lineman Justin Smith said last Sunday. “We have to get back and learn from it. It’s not the end of the world. We’re 2-3. We need to come out and get a win next week.”

San Francisco has lost its last two games against Philadelphia by a combined 53 points. McNabb passed for 296 yards and two touchdowns, and Westbrook ran for 117 and two scores in the Eagles’ 38-24 victory the last time the teams met Sept. 24, 2006.

-Fox Sports

Sheridan’s line: Eagles by 5.

• Last meeting: The Eagles won 38-24 in S.F. in 2006.

• Streaking: 49ers DE Justin Smith’s 112 consecutive starts is tied for the most by an NFL defensive lineman with Bills DE Aaron Schobel.

• Run for your life: The Eagles need to improve their running game. They’re averaging just 3.5 yards per carry, and likely will be without RB Brian Westbrook and Pro Bowl RG Shawn Andrews in San Francisco. That puts a large burden on backup Correll Buckhalter, especially in the short-yardage situations the Eagles have struggled in.

• Short and efficient: 49ers QB J.T. O’Sullivan has struggled with his decision making when under pressure, and no team devises more complex blitz packages than the Eagles. Translation? A heavy emphasis on RB Frank Gore and the short passing game to avoid third-and-long. In the Eagles’ two wins, teams have converted 4.1% of their third downs. In their three losses, 52.2%.

• Specialties: Eagles K David Akers is 3-for-14 from 40-plus yards last two years, 30-for-30 from inside 40.

• Key injuries: Eagles: Andrews (back) and Westbrook (fractured ribs) are not expected to play. 49ers: OLB Manny Lawson (hamstring) and RT Jonas Jennings (shoulder) are likely out.

• Need to know: The 49ers defense is allowing opponents to convert 41.4% of their third downs.




The Pundit of 49ersNews. I do what I can to supply the Niner fans with their fix.
  • Tim

    That would be true if Nolan was not our coach. I fully expect the BS defense again today as I refuse to play the part of the boy who cried wolf and get disappointed again.

  • Tim

    • Need to know: The 49ers defense is allowing opponents to convert 41.4% of their third downs.

    That my friends is the main reason we keep losing. Nolan fool me once shame on you fool me twice shame on me. Who will you make look like a superstar today. I predict Buckhalter.

  • josh

    go to stoogetv.com Links are being posted for the game

  • Roscoe49er

    Soft nickel defense again…Can anyone guess the outcome?

  • Niner Pundit

    ST have saved Nolan's job for at least another half…

  • Billy

    Martz is a dipshit we could have run but no pass pass pass so we had two 3 and outs only 18 carries for Gore. NEWS!!! We were winning when Gore was running!!! Not when Sullivan was getting sacked.

    Nolan and his stupid challenge

  • Tim

    WTF is this guy thinking when he throws the ball. Why did they stop doing what was working?

  • hunterboyz

    Post a link So I can watch this game…
    I’m in Louisiana, and they will not show it here.
    We can win. Any given sunday right…

    Lets get some Gold Niners!

  • crazydave

    Nolan is a retort he should have challenged that hank basket play and maybe the eagles wouldn’t have had that touch down a Nolan fuck up again…thank you Nolan……

  • Tim

    Nice 3rd down D again this week. It hurts to watch.

  • josh

    not that I can stand Nolan coaching us, but that might not have been Nolans fault. He has to get the call from up in the booth to challenge it and they might not have seen it.

  • josh

    2-4

  • josh

    gee this looks familiar…we’re losing as usual

  • Roscoe49er

    Why is nolan getting so upset…if you give McNabb all day to throw he is going to pick us apart.

  • Tim

    I mean seriously in all my years of watching the NFL I have never seen 3rd down defense like this.

  • josh

    at least frank is getting some deserved touches

  • josh

    punt

  • josh

    wish we had different owners/ how can you not have fired Nolan by now?

  • josh

    oh now you challenge a play that will stand.

  • josh

    that would have been a good time to go for two…Nolan is an idiot and only goes for one

  • LOTTIE 901

    FIRE HIS ASS TONIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • LOTTIE 901

    GOOD ONE STRICKLAND

  • Tim

    Pundit Robinson is actually getting some PT today.

  • Tim

    Why do we not run this offense every week our team is built for it. Every play does not have to gain 30 yards. I hope they keep feeding Frank thats what gives the O-line some confidence

  • Lowrance

    I have ZERO problems with VD celebrating after his 57 yard ERNED pass play.

    But let’s get rid of Simms…. Glass….Kwame…. they’re all the same….

  • Billy

    WOW good coaching by NOLAN!??!
    Im glad!! Maybe there is some hope

  • Lowrance

    WOW! What a great call by Martz. Screen to VD with 3 blockers and zero defenders. Too bad JT overhtrew it.

    Nice game calling for the most part against that hard rushing Eagles defense.

  • josh

    way to go away from running the ball. This is where we lose.

  • josh

    why are you challenging a field goal…how dumb can you be

  • josh

    dumb ass Mike Nolan used up all the challenges

  • Roscoe49er

    another awesome finish…had a good lead…we start throwing it…we lose the game. GREAT COACHING!!!

  • Billy

    We may win yet again cause D is acually stopping them!!

  • josh

    That’s why Martz isn’t such a good Offensive coordinator. He doesn’t run the ball enoguh. See what happens…we pass, we lose same as the previous years. Just looks different.

  • Roscoe49er

    If Nolan doesn’t get fired this week, this team will quit on him in the short future. This is unacceptable. Something has to be done. I love this team and it tears my guts out to see them end a game that way.

  • JD

    Once again, I think Shaun Hill should be given a chance…