We're back this week with a few questions and answers with JasonB and the fine folks at Bleeding Green Nation. The 49ers face off against an Eagles team that has put up quite the mix of impressive performances, followed up by stinkers as seen in their rather ugly loss at Oakland earlier this season. Personally I'm not expecting a stinker from Philly, but let's hope for the best (or the worst if you will).
NN: The Eagles have struggled the last couple weeks with McCoy and Weaver leading the rushing attack, but the Eagles continue to win. Is the team simply beefing up the passing attack to cover for the rushing and can it be effective the rest of the season and into the playoffs?
BGN: Well, they ran well against Washington and they ran petty well against the Falcons. The Giants game ended up being a shootout, but they ran well at the end of that game when they needed to. I guess I don't really feel like they've been struggling. They've run when they needed to, whether it be with McCoy or Weaver or even Mike Vick. It's no secret that this is a pass first offense, but in that context I think they've done well enough. It could always be nice to see more though.
I guess to answer you question, the Eagles ability to win from here on out is and was always going to be predicated on their ability to throw the ball.
We continue with a few more questions after the jump...
NN: The 49ers have gone pass-heavy lately, which would seem to play into the hands of a solid Eagles pass defense. Asante Samuel remains the big name in that secondary, but what else will Alex Smith and the 49ers receivers have to account for on Sunday?
BGN: I would expect that they're going to come after him pretty often. When the Eagles have played young or inexperienced QBs this year, they've amped up the blitz. In fact, against the Bucs I swear they blitzed almost every down. I wouldn't be surprised if they tried a similar thing this weekend. The guy to watch on the Eagles D in that department is definitely Trent Cole. I'd say all around the best player on defense and clearly the best pass rusher.
The secondary has been up and down. The safety positions have been iffy, but the corners are both having fantastic seasons. Asante Samuel has 7 picks and Sheldon Brown has 5 (and a couple of TDs). They both like to jump routes and can be susceptible to the double move at times.
NN: Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb often face a steady stream of criticism, and yet the keep on winning. How do Eagles fans currently view the two of them?
BGN: The amount of criticism they face is always overblown. It's generally a vocal minority that you hear complaining. For the most part, people are behind McNabb and Reid... but mostly all Eagles fans have some level of frustration with the lack of a superbowl this past decade. With how good this team has been and how many times they've been in the playoffs, you'd think they'd would have got one by now.
NN: One of the 49ers problems has been in pass protection. It's improved since moving to more of a shotgun offense, but is still something they'll be battling. Can you tell us a bit about the Eagles pass rush?
BGN: I guess that answer to #2 is the same here.
NN: What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Eagles offensive line?
BGN: They're generally a very good pass blocking line and an inconsistent run block line. Running off the left side where Jason Peters and Todd Herremans are is usually where they're most effective. The line is probably weakest trying to get a push straight up the middle in the short yardage.