NFL Gridiron Gab Week Five Preview: Philadelphia at San Francisco

Patrick Willis: one of the lone bright spots for the Niners

2004. The last season the 49ers started 0-4.

1979. The last season the 49ers started 0-5.

The 49ers finished both seasons at 2-14.

Does the winless streak end here, or does it extend? If it extends, does this season become a lost one? America will find out in which direction the team is heading on Sunday night when they host the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Niners have been unspectacular during the first quarter of the 2010 season. If the second quarter merely resembles the first quarter, this will be a long season. For the time being, the frustrating Niners have enough time to turn things around and put the first month of the season behind them.

In my eyes, Coach Mike Singletary has preached, not coached, this season. Week in, week out, he mentions the team having “moral” victories. At this rate, we will have a 16-0 season in that category. I only saw the Saints game as a “moral” victory, and that was only before they laid their goose egg against the Chiefs. Whatever they are worth, no more need for moral victories. They will not get us to win the division and make the playoffs. We need the wins that will actually get us there.

The Eagles provide the 49ers a perfect opportunity to show they are willing to turn things around. The Eagles, even without QB Michael Vick, are a challenging team. Should the 49ers win this game, they will have confidence in themselves going forward-something the team lacks greatly presently. The Eagles pose a threat both on offense and defense and the 49ers will not have much time to commit turnovers and make the mistakes that have cost them in previous weeks.

Even though it seems the team cannot win any games, they will one a game at some point this season, and there is no reason why it cannot be against the Eagles. To finish victorious against the Eagles, the Niners will have to mix things on offense. The offense is not sort of playmakers, and they need to be unleashed. Frank Gore, largely quiet this season, should find success against the 28th ranked Eagles run-defense. However, just Gore being successful will not be enough for the Niners to pull out a win. Alex Smith also needs to make the good plays he made against the Saints. If Gore and Smith are successful, and the team does not make any turnovers, they will win this game.

The defense needs a statement game. It ranks in the bottom half of the league in all major statistics. They will need to apply pressure on Kolb all night, which should cause him to make turnovers. To me, Kolb, while he may be better than Alex Smith, is by no means a sound quarterback. Kolb will break down and make mistakes if the Niners defense attacks him from all angles.

Why the 49ers will win:

1.       Gore breaks out, and Smith makes no mistakes. Against the Eagles’ weak poor defense, Gore finally has the game he has been looking for. Alex Smith, with greater freedom to call/change plays does enough to compliment Gore’s efforts and does not add to his league leading 7 interceptions. While we may prefer for Alex Smith to do more, we take what he gives us and are satisfied with his surprising mistake-free day.

2.       Because they have to win. I have been saying this since Week 2, but they really are going to pull out a win because they need to. The losing has got to stop….soon. Also, playing on national TV will give them the platform to prove wrong most of the people that have written them off.

Why the Eagles will win:

1.       Kolb wants to prove himself. Vick is Philadelphia’s starter when he becomes healthy and he has the full support of the locker room. Kolb-while always having said the right things-shows that he is more than capable of carrying this team on his shoulders.

2.       They have done it before. In their last 4 games against the Niners, the Eagles have been on the Win column. They take care of everything the Niners throw at them and leave San Francisco with a 3-2 record.

My Prediction: Niners win 20-14. The 49ers do just more than the Philadelphia Eagles to pull out a win. While it was not pretty, fans are satisfied with the result.

Note: While I do not want to get ahead of myself and look past any team, if the 49ers win this Sunday, they will have a great opportunity to be 3-4 by the time they make their trip over to Europe.

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