Big game tomorrow at Lincoln Financial Field. If the Eagles are, you know, trying to win the Super Bowl, they’ll need to win this game. I got in touch with the editor of Fansided’s 49ers blog, Eric Melendez, to gain some knowledge on this San Francisco team. Here’s what he had to say.
P.S. I’m about seven beers deep, putting this together during the ninth inning of the Phils’ game, so, like, this is impressive that I’m posting right now. Respect that.
1) What is the biggest change Jim Harbaugh has brought to San Francisco?
The Jim Harbaugh era has brought confidence and experience to the 49ers. Players have the confidence that the 49ers can be contenders and a winning team. Harbaugh provides the experience of having played 15 years at quarterback in the NFL and 18 years of coaching at the collegiate and NFL level. The past two head coaches for the 49ers had defensive backgrounds but the 49ers won five Super Bowls on the vertical passing of the West Coast offense. Harbaugh will emphasise the offense more than fired head coaches like Mike Singletary and Mike Nolan.
2) Alex Smith has played fairly well through through three games, leading the NFL in completion percentage. What’s been the change in Smith’s game?
This is another area where the 49ers have seen big changes with Harbaugh as head coach. Harbaugh is known for developing quarterbacks and he has done well in fixing some of Smith’s deficiencies. Harbaugh has taught Smith to use the athletic ability that made him a number one overall pick in 2005. Harbaugh is calling more roll out pass plays to get Smith on the outside and away from the pass rush. Smith has learned to go through his progressions faster and if he does not see anything right away he’s run the football. Even with Harbaugh’s tutelage and Smith’s solid start to the season, Alex Smith is still Alex Smith.
3) Are the 49ers for real? They’ve gotten off to a solid start– is this a product of a somewhat weak schedule or is there a sense they can really make something happen this season?
The 49ers are somewhat for real. The weak schedule has helped in the two wins, but the 49ers are riding their defense and special teams who are picking up the slack for an inept offense. Alex Smith not committing turnovers has helped the team but we need to see more production from the offense if the 49ers want to be taken for real.
4) What’s up with Frank Gore? He’s really struggled this season, averaging the third lowest yards per carry average through three weeks. Will this trend change, or is Gore running out of steam?
Gore had a brief holdout at the start of training camp wanting a contract extension and was coming off a hip injury that he suffered last season. Because of that the 49ers were cautious in their approach to resigning Gore to a new contract. They didn’t want to over pay him but offered a fair contract that did not lock the team in for many years and not much guaranteed. So far, Gore has shown the 49ers were right in offering an incentive laden, two-year guaranteed contract. Gore looks to be losing steam, but he can still be a reliable running back for the 49ers. The offense will need to mix in the other running backs to spell Gore and keep him healthy the whole season. Gore is going through an ankle injury but eventually he will get back to his old self.
5) Tomorrow is a must-win for the Eagles and a statement game for the 49ers. How do you this one playing out, and why?
A big question mark for the 49ers right now is their offensive line. If the O-line can pass protect and make running lanes for Gore and Kendall Hunter the 49ers can pull off the upset. With it being a road game in Philly it will be tough to win. The 49ers will stay close to the end but a turnover will doom them to a loss. 49ers 18, Eagles 24.