Niners game plan

Niners game plan, matchups to watch and injury impact entering Sunday's encounter with the Eagles in Philadelphia.


The 49ers still have the element of surprise working for them with first-year head coach Mike Nolan and the new coaching staff. The 49ers probably can't match up with the Eagles' talent, so they will have to find other ways to compete with last year's NFC champions. They used a handful of gadget plays in the opener against the Rams, so the Eagles have to be prepared for anything offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy could implement, including receiver Arnaz Battle lining up at quarterback in the shotgun and running the option. The 49ers must get something going with their ground game. Seven of the 49ers' 10 offensive drives went nowhere last week against the Rams because the 49ers had little success with the run game. The 49ers might want to run more to the right side, where tackle Kwame Harris and Eric Heitmann have the ability to open some holes. Running back Kevan Barlow gained just 22 yards on 14 rushes, and promised the run game will be much improved in the coming weeks. Defensively, the 49ers will have to contend with receiver Terrell Owens, one of the top receivers in the game. The 49ers will have to use a variety of coverages and bring blitzes from the side of the field Owens lines up on to attempt to throw the Eagles' passing game off rhythm.


--- 49ers CB Ahmed Plummer, who will undoubtedly require a lot of deep help from his safeties, vs. Eagles WR Terrell Owens, one of the league's best receivers who should be especially motivated to play against his former team.

--- DE Bryant Young, who matched his 2004 sack total with three against the Rams in the opener, vs. RT Jon Runyan, a 10-year pro who is facing a player making an adjustment to a new position.

--- RT Kwame Harris, who required help from backs and tight ends in dealing last week with Leonard Little, vs. LDE Jevon Kearse, who led the Eagles last season with 7.5 sacks.


--- TE Eric Johnson has not practiced since Aug. 9 because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He missed the opener against the Rams and is listed as doubtful for this week's game against the Eagles. In the event he does not play, Steve Bush and Billy Bajema will split the playing time.

--- Center Jeremy Newberry is expected to start again against the Eagles. He will be relegated to one practice a week because of a right knee problem. Newberry has little cartilage in his right knee, a condition that threatens his long-term availability.

--- WR Johnnie Morton sustained a concussion in the opener against the Rams while hauling in a 30-yard pass reception. He is expected to play Sunday.

--- OT Jonas Jennings missed Thursday's practice with a sore knee but returned Friday and is probably to play against the Eagles.

--- WR Brandon Lloyd was added to the injury report Friday as probable after being limited in Friday's session due to a hamstring injury that occurred Thursday.

--- OG Justin Smiley broke his hand late in practice Thursday but did not miss any practice time Friday and is not listed on the injury report.

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