Saturday, August 1, 2015

Eagles-Niners: What We're Watching

Each week, Daily News football writer Paul Domowitch will tell you the things he will be keeping his eyes on during that week’s game:

Eagles-Niners: What We're Watching

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San Francisco 49ers Vernon Davis, the most productive tight end in the NFC, could cause problems for the Eagles defense. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
San Francisco 49ers Vernon Davis, the most productive tight end in the NFC, could cause problems for the Eagles defense. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Each week, Daily News football writer Paul Domowitch will tell you the things he will be keeping his eyes on during that week’s game:

1. Protecting the rock. The 49ers forced seven turnovers in their win over the Cardinals Monday night and have 15 takeaways in their last five games. But the Eagles don’t turn the ball over much. Their 17 giveaways are the fourth fewest in the league. Donovan McNabb has the best career interception percentage in NFL history and the Eagles have had just four games with multiple giveaways this season.

2. The Niners’ pass rush. Mike Singletary’s defense has been getting after the quarterback lately. The Niners have 15 sacks in their last three games after recording just 19 in their first 10 games. But the Eagles’ offensive line allowed just one sack to the Giants last week and have given up just 10 sacks in the last five games.

3. Gore-y stuff. Frank Gore rushed for 167 yards in Monday’s win over the Cardinals. But the Niners, like the Eagles, don’t need much encouragement to become a one-dimensional offense. If the Eagles are able to shut down Gore early, offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye will lose his number and Alex Smith will air it out 40-plus times.

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4. Another tight end challenge. The Eagles have had trouble controlling tight ends all season. In the last 10 games, opposing TEs have 70 catches for 776 yards and eight touchdowns against the Birds. They’ve got another tough challenge this week in the Niners’ athletic Vernon Davis, who has a league-high 11 TD catches and leads all NFC TEs with 815 receiving yards.

5. The Michael Vick factor. Vick is starting to become a factor in the Eagles’ offense, particularly down in the red zone, where the Eagles have converted five of their last eight trips inside the 20 into touchdowns. In the last two games, Vick has run for a pair of TDs and thrown for another. He had seven rushing attempts and four pass attempts vs. Atlanta and the Giants, and averaged 9.8 yards on those 11 plays.
 

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Giants lineman Shaun O'Hara weighed in on the $15,000 fine he received for his role in an altercation with the Eagles' Trent Cole in the final minute of Sunday's game. Cole was ejected from the final 8 seconds and also received a $15,000 fine.

O'Hara told reporters that he plans to appeal, according to the Associated Press. “I know that it was a very physical game and there was a lot going on, a lot of things that escalated up to that point,” O’Hara said. “One thing I’ll say is I’m always going to stick up for myself and stick up for my teammates. There was certainly a lot of pushing and shoving, but I felt the pushing and shoving was going both ways until it escalated.”

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For Les Bowen's earlier report from Eagles practice, click here.

Daily News NFL Columnist
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