Plus, San Francisco led the NFL with 20 interceptions and a plus-13 turnover differential final season and it had the second-most turnovers pressured (30). With Steve Wilks taking up the place former defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans left off, it’s exhausting to see the 49ers not rating on the high of each main defensive class.
Ewing: Razor skinny, you say? Philadelphia’s protection solely gave up 0.9 extra yards per recreation final yr. Granted, the Eagles gave up 3.9 extra factors per recreation, however they didn’t have the luxurious of going through Arizona twice final season.
I’d by no means let you know that the Niners don’t have an excellent line of defense. They do. Philadelphia’s line is simply higher. Final yr, the Eagles grew to become simply the fourth team in NFL history to report 70 sacks in a season. Hargrave had 11 of them, however even should you took his sacks out of final yr’s whole, the Eagles would’ve nonetheless had 15 extra sacks than the 49ers.
Not like San Francisco, Philadelphia has spent the previous two years including younger expertise to its protection, particularly former Georgia stars Nakobe Dean, Jalen Carter, Jordan Davis and Kelee Ringo. The Eagles protection may very well be even higher than it was in 2022.
BEST SPECIAL TEAMS
Gallagher: Judging particular groups models as an entire is hard as a result of kicking, punting, returning and training all must be taken under consideration.
Rookie third-round choose Jake Moody will presumably take over because the 49ers beginning kicker. And whereas the 59-yarder he made within the Faculty Soccer Playoff semifinal in opposition to TCU was the second longest within the NCAA final season, he solely made 82.9 p.c of his 35 field-goal makes an attempt in 2022 and his profession field-goal proportion is simply 82.1. Eagles kicker Jake Elliott’s profession proportion isn’t significantly better at 84.7, however he’s made 87 p.c or extra of his discipline targets the previous two seasons and he has six seasons of NFL expertise.
However that’s the place Philly’s particular groups benefit ends. Whereas the Eagles averaged 0.6 yards per punt extra final season, the 49ers positioned 15 extra punts contained in the 20, surrendered fewer punt return yardage (153 to 201) and had the second-fewest punts returned (17 of 61) within the NFL. San Francisco averaged almost a yard extra per kickoff return (23 to 22.1) and almost two extra yards per punt return (10.8 to 9.2).
The Eagles could maintain the sting in discipline targets, however the 49ers are the higher crew in the case of punting and returning. And as we all know, generally video games between evenly matched groups come right down to who can win the field-position battle.
Ewing: I’ll give San Francisco the benefit at punter. Arryn Siposs was horrible final yr, no extra so than in Tremendous Bowl LVII when his fourth-quarter shank led to a 65-yard return by the Chiefs’ Kadarius Toney. Eagles followers are hoping that UDFA Ty Zentner wins the job in coaching camp, which tells you all it is advisable know in regards to the place.
Punting and field-position numbers might be difficult with a crew like Philadelphia. The Eagles had 32 fourth-down makes an attempt final yr, the fourth-highest quantity within the league. That didn’t go away many probabilities for Siposs to place one within the coffin nook.
You’re proper to present the nod to Elliott. He’s no Adam Vinatieri, however not like Moody, he already has a roster spot. Kickers might be irritating, however they have an effect on the sport greater than punters and returners. Because of this, I give the Eagles a slight benefit on particular groups.
BEST HEAD COACH
Gallagher: Once more, this one is actually shut, however I’m going to go together with Kyle Shanahan over Nick Sirianni. Whereas there’s no denying the work Sirianni put in taking the Eagles from a 9-8 crew in 2021 to a 14-3 Tremendous Bowl contender final yr, Shanahan merely has extra skins on the wall.
He led the 49ers to a Tremendous Bowl in 2019 and coached in one other because the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons in 2016. San Francisco has performed in back-to-back NFC Championship Video games the previous two seasons beneath Shanahan, and the crew might make it three straight this yr with arguably the most effective roster he’s had in his seven seasons as 49ers head coach.
Ewing: Let’s take a better take a look at that 9-8 Eagles season. In 2021, Sirianni inherited a last-place crew that went 4-11-1 the yr earlier than. He had an unproven QB in Hurts. In two years as Eagles head coach, Sirianni’s regular-season report is 23-11.
Shanahan additionally inherited a last-place crew in 2017, nevertheless it took him three years simply to have a profitable season. In his first two years as Niners head coach, Shanahan went 10-22.
Over the previous two years, each coaches have 23-11 data. The 2 are 1-1 in opposition to one another, with Sirianni’s Eagles outscoring the Niners, 42-24. This may increasingly sound like recency bias, however issues change quick within the NFL. Expertise issues, however in the intervening time, Sirianni has the higher hand.
Gallagher: Though it’s robust to go in opposition to the reigning NFC champion Eagles, my vote is for the 49ers. Had Brock Purdy not been injured in January’s NFC Championship Recreation, who is aware of how issues would have performed out? (Try that play beneath.) The excellent news is that this query may reply itself in Week 13 on Dec. 3, when these groups face off in a rematch of the convention title recreation, hopefully with shut to completely wholesome rosters. The sport is once more in Philly, by the best way.