3. The Philadelphia Eagles need to limit George Kittle.
George Kittle is fully healthy for Sunday Night’s game, and defending him provides a difficult task for Philly all night long. They don’t have to shut him down, but they do need to limit his impact. Kittle excels as both a blocker and a receiver, and he’ll probably be asked to help Mike McGlinchey in pass protection at times or help block in the run game.
What Philly needs to watch for is him releasing from a block into a route and then getting open space to run. That helps the 49ers convert first downs and chew the clock which they did masterfully last weekend versus the New York Giants.
Losing the time of possession battle could be a deciding factor in a matchup like this. Philly cannot afford to have a YAC (yards-after-catch) monster like Kittle in the open field with how bad their tackling has been.
They also cannot afford for Nathan Gerry or Jalen Mills to be on him. Then again, who else can guard him. Darius Slay or Rodney McLeod might be the best option at times, but Slay would lose his effectiveness if the call is a run. Either way, as long as Gerry or Mills don’t draw the assignment, Philly could have a decent chance.
The ‘Birds’ could also benefit from having two guys keyed in on Kittle at all times. With his physicality and route running, most one-on-one matchups will be a nightmare. If the Birds take him out of this game, the 49ers will have to make adjustments quickly and on the fly.