Here’s my biggest question heading into this game: Should the Eagles be more worried about the San Francisco offense or defense?
Eric: Great question. San Francisco’s offense features some of the top playmakers in the game, led by Christian McCaffrey, Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk. And Purdy is an MVP candidate in just his second year. The 49ers also have a solid offensive line, anchored by one of the best left tackles in the business in Trent Williams. San Francisco averages 28.2 points per game, tied for No. 3 in the NFL — with the Eagles.
However, it’s been the improvement of San Francisco’s defense that has led to the team’s resurgence after its bye week. Since the midseason trade for edge rusher Chase Young, the 49ers have 15 sacks in the past three games, have forced eight takeaways and have held opponents to an average of 10 points a contest. The addition of Young to the defensive line has freed up reigning Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa, who has five sacks and 28 quarterback pressures over the past three games.
While San Francisco has been playing well defensively, the 49ers will have their hands full trying to bottle up Jalen Hurts and Philadelphia’s potent offense. What’s been working for the Eagles on offense during the team’s five-game win streak?
Ralph: Honestly, what’s been working for them the most is Jalen Hurts. I could make a good argument that he’s been the difference in all five games in the winning streak. The beauty of the Eagles is they have a dozen different ways to beat teams.
They can steamroll teams on the ground. They’ve got two No. 1 receivers who can carry them. The constant, though, is the quarterback. He rarely puts up spectacular numbers, but he has spectacular games where he just finds a way to step up and make big plays exactly when the Eagles seem to need them. He did a lot of that in the second half both against the Bills last Sunday night and against the Chiefs a week earlier.
He didn’t play perfect games. He has thrown a career-high 10 interceptions, including three in the past five games, and that’s one way the Eagles are worse than they were last year. But when the game is on the line, when it really matters, Hurts just finds a way to throw a perfect pass, make a well-timed run. It’s pretty impressive.