KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:15 Pacific
SITE: Monster Park in San Francisco
TV: FOX, Kenny Albert, Brian Baldinger
2006 NFL RANKINGS: Eagles: offense 1st (10th rush, 2nd pass); defense 20th (10th rush, 26th pass). 49ers: offense 6th (12th rush, 6th pass); defense 18th (16th rush, 19th pass)
SERIES: 27th meeting. The 49ers lead the series, 17-8-1. The two teams faced each other in Week 2 last season, with the Eagles winning easily, 42-3. Quarterback Donovan McNabb threw for 342 yards and a career-high five touchdowns in that game.
KEYS TO THE GAME: RB Frank Gore's ability to be a productive workhorse on the ground has helped create time for second-year QB Alex Smith to take more shots downfield. He'll look often for WR Antonio Bryant working against a secondary without injured CBs Lito Sheppard and Rod Hood. The Eagles will also start DE Trent Cole with Jevon Kearse out for the season. Smith & Co. will have to put some points on the board because San Francisco has its own defensive concerns going up against Philadelphia's balanced offense. The Eagles are utilizing a lot of play-action passes, and WR Donte Stallworth will have an advantage working against CBs Shawntae Spencer or Walt Harris. The 49ers also could use a heavier mix of the 3-4 scheme to help account for the versatility of Eagles RB Brian Westbrook.
FAST FACTS: Eagles - Team's defensive ends have 9.5 sacks, five fewer than they had all last season. ... QB Donovan McNabb's career 2.07 TD-INT ratio (139-67) ranks second all-time behind Steve Young's 2.17. 49ers: - Smith has thrown for 521 yards in two games after passing for 875 yards in seven starts last year. ... 91-38 (.705) home record since 1990 is fifth-best in the NFL.
BY THE NUMBERS: 2.0 - The average yards per play the 49ers are out-gaining the opposition through two games. The offense is averaging 6.6 yards per play, while the defense is allowing 4.6 yards. … 446 - Yards of total offense the Eagles are averaging through two games, which ranks No. 1 in the NFL.
QUOTES TO NOTE
--- "If you just look at the roster overall, we're vastly improved. Just look at the surrounding cast around quarterback Alex Smith right now. It's not only the new guys, but the young guys having another year of experience" -- 49ers coach Mike Nolan.
--- "I don't want to bring up the past, but we went through something similar to this against Tennessee (in 2002). We got through it and learned from it. This is a reminder of the same situation. I'm not going to predict the future. But it's important that we learn from it like we did with that game." -- coach Andy Reid, comparing Sunday's loss to the Giants to the Eagles' season-opening loss to Tennessee in '02 when they blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead. The Eagles won 12 games that year and went to the NFC Championship Game
EAGLES GAME PLAN: With cornerbacks Lito Sheppard and Rod Hood out, Jim Johnson likely will ease up on the blitz frequency and not leave inexperienced Joselio Hanson and slot corner Dexter Wynn exposed. Offensively, the Eagles will use their fast-improving play-action game to attack a secondary that gave up three touchdown passes to Arizona in Week 1.
49ERS GAME PLAN: In Norv Turner's offense, the 49ers are devoted to the power running game. Although that remains a big part of the team's focus this week, they also might allow quarterback Alex Smith to take a few more shots down the field. The Eagles are banged-up in the defensive secondary, and 49ers castoff Joselio Hanson might be in the starting lineup at one of the corner spots. Smith has not been timid about trying to get the ball down the field. He tried a lot of plays down the field last week against the Rams, and his completion percentage suffered because of it. Smith completed just 11 of 22 passing attempts, but hit on a couple big plays against the Rams, including a 72-yard TD pass to Antonio Bryant. "When you do take shots you aren't going to hit them all," Smith said. "When I see the film, I see the potential to be better." Bryant, Arnaz Battle and Bryan Gilmore each have shown ability to get down the field. The 49ers also like to use trick plays to take some of the aggressiveness out of the opposing defense. Defensively, the 49ers have to continue to scheme their pass rush to create opportunities to get some hits on McNabb. The 49ers have nine sacks in the first two games, and most have come on some form of blitz. The 49ers have done a good job defending the deep ball, so coach Mike Nolan and defensive coordinator Billy Davis feel a little better about taking some chance by sending extra rushers.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--- Eagles CB Sheldon Brown v. 49ers WR Antonio Bryant. Bryant has notched two straight 100-yard receiving games. He's QB Alex Smith's go-to guy.
--- 49ers CB Walt Harris, who has held up well on deep patterns against good sets of receivers, vs. Eagles WR Donte Stallworth, who has quickly emerged as a favorite of QB Donovan McNabb's with 222 yards receiving in two games.
--- 49ers OLB Manny Lawson, who recorded the first two sacks of his NFL career last week, vs. Eagles LT William Thomas, a three-time Pro Bowl selection who outweighs Lawson by nearly 100 pounds.
--- 49ers FS Mike Adams, who is developing as a solid young center fielder, vs. Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, whose TD-interception ratio of 139 to 67 ranks No. 2 in league history.
-- 49ers LT Jonas Jennings, expected to return after missing a game with a right ankle sprain, vs. Eagles DE Trent Cole, a situational pass rusher who has recorded two sacks in each of the first two games.
--- With LDE Jevon Kearse out for the season with a knee injury, the Eagles will activate Jerome McDougle. RE Darren Howard will moved from the right side to the left side. McDougle will rotate at RE with Trent Cole.
--- CB Lito Sheppard (ankle) is expected to be out for at least 3 more weeks and his replacement, Rod Hood (heel strain), probably won't play this week. That means Joselio Hanson, who played in NFL Europe this spring, will start against the 49ers.
--- LT Jonas Jennings (right ankle) is expected back in the lineup Sunday after missing one game with a high ankle sprain.
--- RG Justin Smiley (left shoulder) is expected to play Sunday.
--- DL Ronald Fields (right shoulder) left last week's game in the first half, but he is expected to be ready if needed against the Eagles.
--- NT Anthony Adams (left ankle) sustained a sprain last week but practiced at the end of the week and should start Sunday.
--- WR Taylor Jacobs (left hamstring) is not expected to play this week against the Eagles and is listed as doubtful.
--TE Delanie Walker (separated right shoulder) is expected to miss at least another week. He sustained his injury in the 49ers' final exhibition game, Sept. 1.
Game breakdown: 49ers vs. Eagles
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