What we're watching: Eagles-Niners

Each week, we tell you what we'll be watching in the upcoming Eagles game. Here is a look at the keys to Sunday's game against San Francisco:

1. Getting off the field: Last week, the Redskins ran 75 offensive plays against the Eagles, which was the most by an opponent since the Cowboys took 84 offensive snaps in a 38-24 Eagles win in Week 5 of ’06. Redskins converted 11 of 19 third-down opportunities. In the Eagles’ three losses, opponents have converted 24 of 46 third-down tries. In their two wins: two of 24.

2. Cutting down on the Gore: Niners running back Frank Gore leads the league in yards from scrimmage. He’s averaing 4.8 yards per carry and has a team-high 19 receptions. Eagles should be able to contain him on the ground better than they did Clinton Portis last week. But their linebackers and DBs need to keep him in check when they throw to him.

3. Run, baby, run: With or without Brian Westbrook, Eagles need to strike a better run-pass balance than they have the last 2 weeks, when 73 of their 114 offensive plays have been pass plays. The Eagles are 29th in the league in rushing average (3.5), but they have to get better at it, not abandon it.

4. A special-teams difference: The Eagles’ kickoff coverage has been erratic all season, which too often has given opponents a short field to work with. They need to tighten things up this week against the Niners’ Allen Rossum, who is fifth in the league in KR average (28.9). Meanwhile, the Eagles’ explosive punt returner, DeSean Jackson, should get some home-run opportunities against a punt- coverage unit that is ranked 27th in the league.

5. Getting out of that second-half rut: The Eagles’ offense has been horrendous in the second half this season. Just 38 of their 127 points have come after intermission. In the last four games, they’ve put up just 21 points in the second half. Last week against the Redskins in the second half: three points, four first downs.