On Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles (2-2) come to town to take on our San Francisco 49ers (0-4). We have plenty of coverage of the game here on Niners Nation, but you can also check out our gamestream over at SB Nation Bay Area and keep up to date on injuries at this stream here. Beyond all of this though, I wanted to highlight some things. We'll start with the obvious ...
Five Players To Watch
Kevin Kolb, Quarterback, Starter, Eagles
With Michael Vick, by all accounts, being out for the game, Kolb wHill get the start. Kolb began the season as the starter before playing ... not so well, and after a couple of strong performances from Vick, Kolb because one of the league's premier bench warmers. Now he's back, and the 49ers would appear to have an easier matchup on their hands: don't be so sure. Kolb is backed into a corner right now, and he could come out slinging, especially if running back LeSean McCoy is still banged up, which he will be.
Taylor Mays, Strong Safety, Starter, 49ers
Mays started his first NFL game last Sunday against the Falcons, and did a decent job of it. In fact, he did better than decent, what with his stellar defensive play and his ample special teams contribution. It's unrealistic to think we'll see another toe-tapping catch in the back of the end zone , and he should, in fact, play less special teams now, but we can expect/hope for a defensive performance much like last week's. His speed will likely play a factor against Philly's young, speedy receivers.
Brian Westbrook, Running Back, Backup, 49ers
I hesitated when I typed "backup," for Westbrook, because it's just ... odd to consider him as such, considering when he was brought in, the majority of us were excited about the dynamic aspects he could bring to this offense, which he's yet to do. If it came down to Delanie Walker or Westbrook seeing the field, true, I'd rather see Walker, but with him being ruled out for the game due to a high left ankle sprain, I think the next mis-match we could invoke would be Westbrook.
Alex Smith, Quarterback, Starter, 49ers
No player is under as much scrutiny as Alex Smith this season for the 49ers (maybe in the entire league). Rightly so, because Smith is the one hope for this team this season. Head coach Mike Singletary has bet it all on #11 this season and thus far, it's resulted in an 0-4 record, for one reason or another. I'll give Smith a pass for the Seattle game, Miichael Crabtree screwed that one up. I'll give him the Saints game because he played well. I'll give him a portion of the Kansas City game, but I was losing patience. Crabtree was still bad then, too. But then the two interceptions happened against the Falcons, and what now? I don't quite know, but every single pass is probably going to be met with 100 comments here on NN.
Nate Allen, Safety, Starter, Eagles
From what I can see, this guy has been a beast, and all this year I've heard talk of "attacking young safeties," and things of that nature, but Allen is one safety I'm perfectly fine with never seeing a ball go his way. If we pass at him, Smith's 3TD and 78457485748 INT will look a lot worse.
Other Things To Look For
This is, in all essences, a deflated fanbase, which is totally understandable at 0-4. On Monday night against the Saints, Candlestick was absolutely rocking. It was loud, it was insane, I couldn't talk for two days afterward. How about now that we're an 0-4 football team? Will it have even a fraction of that volume? I certainly hope so. I'll be there, yet again, yelling and screaming until I can't think, let alone speak. DreZ should be there as well, he's the other member of NN I know who will be going, so if my tailgating doesn't kill him, I expect him to be just as loud. The 49ers need to create a hostile environment for the Eagles. I recall snowballs being thrown at Niners fans last year, since it's not snowing in San Fran ... I vote rocks.
Throughout the rest of this season, I will be paying attention to how the 49ers get their plays on. How much time is left on the play clock when they begin, whether or not the team was lined up with more than five seconds remaining, whether or not Smith makes any adjustments before the snap, and whether or not he didn't due to not having enough time when he couldn't.
This is the first game this season where I haven't had a clear idea of what the gameplan at least should be. It's always "Well, Walker should be out there to exploit the defense, Gore can run on these guys ..." etc. The Eagles are pretty solid all-around with some threats at many positions, so what's the strategy, with Ted Ginn coming back and Delanie Walker hurt? How much will the team go deep, how much time will Brian Westbrook get? Things like that.
IF APPLICABLE: Five Things To Do When The 49ers Start Losing
Sacrifice Some Manner of Small Animal
The football Gods are not easy to please, but it has been proven that they do react to sacrifices of this kind. I need only point to Eagles quarterback Mi-- ... OK, I won't go there, but I really, really should. Still, I heartily suggest some form of prayer coupled with some sort of ritualistic invocation.
Make a Sandwich
There's not many things in this world that can console me while the 49ers are losing. One of those few things is a really good sandwich. I may not make it through Sunday, as I'll be at the game, and if they start losing, I won't have the resources with which to make myself a sandwich. You, however, can save yourself. If you need instructions on how to make a good sandwich, just wait for my upcoming sandwich blog.
Tell Bleeding Green Nation How Much You Hate Them
What a bunch of jive turkeys, am I right? I mean, where do these guys get off, cheering on a team currently beating the 49ers? There couldn't possibly be anything more incessantly annoying than an Eagles fan.
Call Mike Singletary "Dingleberry."
That's not old yet. I promise. It's not annoying at all. Please do it some more. Please?
IF APPLICABLE: Five Things To Do After The 49ers Lose
Apologize to Bleeding Green Nation for Telling Them How Much You Hate Them
They're not bad guys, just a little misguided. The 49ers lost, but it's not the fault of those guys, and in actuality, they run a pretty sweet blog over there. I'd probably rank it in the top half of SB Nation's NFL blogs. They really are a bunch of good guys, and probably not at all like your stereotypical Philly fan. We can hate them for a little while, because we need to. But eventually we'll go back, and we'll say, "Look, guys. We just needed to be angry for awhile. We needed that space, and we needed to do this for us. We're sorry, and to make it up to you, we're taking you out for a nice dinner." Make-up sex may or may not ensue, we'll see how it goes. Just don't act too eager, OK guys? Don't you ruin this for me.
Listen to R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts," on Loop for Six Hours Straight
Everyboooody huuuuuuuurts sooooometimes.
Write an Open Letter to the York's Telling Them How Much They Suck but that They Also Must Fire Mike Singletary and Alex Smith
Everyone else is already doing it, may as well jump on the bandwagon and tell everyone that a mid-season sacking of Mike Singletary will turn this team right around and not at all create even more set backs. This, of course, will simultaneously start up the David Carr bandwagon, which, as I recall, lasted about forty-eight seconds this preseason in its first iteration. What a confidence-inspiring bunch.
It's probably his fault in some way, shape or form. McCovey Chronicles, SB Nation's Giants blog, has done a stellar job of blaming Grant for many mishaps, so it's about time we had a guy to lambaste, and I vote Fooch. Just figure out a way to do it. I mean, let's look at his faults. Number one, he's not Ninjames. That's a red flag right there, isn't it? Number two, he's NOT NINJAMES! Jeez.
MOST DEFINITELY WILL BE APPLICABLE: Things To Do When The 49ers Win
Sing A Variation Of The "I've Got A Golden Ticket," Song from Willy Wonka
I suggest some form of "We found a way to win it ... we found a way to wiiiin it," or something of that sort.
Be Sad That the 49ers Couldn't Go 0-16 Just to Spite Moran Norris
If this team were to go 0-16, the one silver lining is that all of you who absolutely hate this guy can take solace in the fact that he'd be suffering through two 0-16 seasons. Wouldn't that be great? I bet Smileyman is, well, all smiles at that thought.
Talk About How Alex Smith Lost Us The Game Even Though We Won
You know there will be some people here still doing it. Smith could throw fifteen touchdowns and we'll have a hundred essays on here about how he deserves to be benched for not throwing sixteen.