An in-depth look at Sunday’s 1 p.m. matchup at Lincoln Financial Field.
When the Eagles run the ball
The Eagles have been the epitome of a balanced offense over the last five games. They have a 52.4 run percentage since Week 3 and have averaged 34.8 carries per game and 4.3 yards per carry during that time. They lead the league in runs of 10 yards or more with 31. Ten of them have been by QB Carson Wentz. Wentz had a career-high five rushing first downs last week against Washington, giving him 15 for the season. The only Eagle with more is LeGarrette Blount (16). Take Wentz’s eight carries for 63 yards out of the Eagles’ ground numbers Monday night and they averaged just 2.6 yards per carry. Blount and Wendell Smallwood combined for 54 yards on 22 carries. The loss of LT Jason Peters figures to have a significant effect on the Eagles’ ground game. The 49ers gave up 265 rushing yards to the Cowboys last week, including nine runs of 10-plus yards. Teams have been averaging a league-high 34.3 rushing attempts per game against the Niners.
When the Eagles throw the ball
Carson Wentz has taken a giant step in his development in his second season. He is fourth in the league in passing (104.0) and has an NFL-high 17 touchdown passes, one more than he threw his entire rookie season. He has the league’s fourth-best yards-per-attempt average (7.98). He’s been amazing on third down. He leads the league in third-down passing (133.1). Eight of his 17 TD passes have come on third down. Last year, he had three. TE Zach Ertz is sixth in the NFL in receptions with 39, including 26 for first downs. He is tied for the league lead in red-zone TD receptions with five. Wentz is getting more efficient with his deep ball. He has completed 7 of 13 attempts of 20 yards or more in the last three games. He was 5-for-22 in the first four. The 49ers have just four interceptions and are 28th in the league in opponent yards per attempt (7.9). CB Rashard Robinson has been called for a team-high eight penalties, including four for pass interference.
When the 49ers run the ball
The 49ers are 23rd in the league in rushing (96.0 yards per game), but a respectable 12th in rush average (4.3 per carry). Carlos Hyde rushed for 988 yards last season and is on a similar pace this season with 428 yards through 7 games. He’s a strong, tackle-breaking runner. The Niners had 159 rushing yards against Seattle in Week 2 but, since then, have averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. They have a solid pair of tackles – Joe Staley and Trent Brown – but the interior of their line is a problem. The Niners’ are averaging only 3.82 yards per carry on first down. The Eagles are first in the league in run defense, holding teams to 67.0 yards per game and 3.8 per carry. But they haven’t really been tested. Just one team has run the ball more than 19 times against them (Carolina, 25, in Week 6). Last week’s season-ending injury to MIKE LB and defensive play-caller Jordan Hicks was a blow. The Eagles have allowed just 24 rushing first downs, third fewest in the league.
When the 49ers throw the ball
Rookie C.J. Beathard’s first NFL start last week against the Cowboys was a rocky one. He completed just 22 of 38 passes, failed to throw a TD pass and was sacked five times. Most NFL teams considered him career-backup material going into the 2017 draft, but the Niners seem to think he can be a quality starter. Neither of the Niners’ starting WRs — Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin — have a TD catch yet. The Niners have just 17 pass plays of 20-plus yards, the 10th fewest in the league. They are 29th in third-down efficiency and 28th on third-and-long (eight yards or more). Beathard is averaging just 5.3 yards per attempt on third down. Garcon has been targeted 16 times on third down, but has just six receptions. The Niners’ interior linemen will have their hands full with Eagles DTs Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan. Jim Schwartz also figures to test Beathard with blitzes. Opponents have a 45.1 passer rating vs. the Eagles blitz this season.
Kenjon Barner has done an impressive job of replacing Darren Sproles as the team’s punt returner. He’s averaging 16.3 yards per return, second-highest average in the league. Niners rookie Trent Taylor is fifth at 12.3. Barner will be going up against the league’s No. 1-ranked punt-coverage unit Sunday. The Niners have allowed a total of 24 yards on 15 punt returns this season. Eagles PK Jake Elliott had made 12 FGAs in a row before missing a 45-yarder vs. the Redskins last week. He’s 5-for-6 from 48 yards or longer. Opponents have advanced just two of his last 31 kickoffs beyond the 25-yard line. Niners PK Robbie Gould has the league’s seventh best career FG accuracy rate (86.3%). He has missed just one of 17 attempts this season. The Eagles lost their special teams leader two weeks ago when Chris Maragos suffered a season-ending knee injury. Their punt-coverage unit, which has held opponents to 6.2 yards per return, will be tested Sunday by the Niners’ Taylor.
Eagles 38, 49ers 17
— Eagles WRs Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor vs. 49ers CBs Rashard Robinson, Dontae Johnson and K’Waun Williams: Robinson has a team-high eight penalties, including four for pass interference. Agholor has five TD catches. ADVANTAGE: Eagles
— Eagles DTs Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan vs. 49ers Gs Laken Tomlinson and Brandon Fusco/Zane Beadles and C Daniel Kilgore: Cox and Jernigan will be a handful for a Niners interior line that has struggled much of the season. ADVANTAGE: Eagles
— Eagles LBs Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks vs. 49ers RB Carlos Hyde: The Eagles own the league’s best run defense. Kendricks and Bradham must pick up the slack with Jordan Hicks (ruptured Achilles tendon) out. Both have been playing well. ADVANTAGE: Eagles
Hot and Not
Eagles: QB Carson Wentz. He’s thrown 11 touchdown passes in the last three games.
49ers: PK Robbie Gould. He has made 16 of 17 field-goal attempts this season.
Eagles: RBs LeGarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood. The pair combined for just 54 yards on 22 carries against the Redskins on Monday night.
49ers: QB C.J. Beathard. Was sacked five times and had just one completion longer than 20 yards Sunday in his first NFL start.