49ers vs. Eagles, Week 4 NFL Preview: Looking To Build On First Place Lead

The 49ers head to Philadelphia for the second game of a two game road trip. We take an early look at a tough matchup for the 49ers. For more, head over to Niners Nation.

It's difficult to use the word "should," in football. Especially when referring to a team that "should," have won a game, but that's exactly the feeling the 49ers should have about week two, even now, heading into week three. The team just beat the Cincinnati Bengals and it was a mixed bag of feelings in regards to how everybody played, but they have to feel like they should be 3-0 right now instead of 2-1. Either way, they're on top of the NFC West and heading into a rough stretch of games against tough opponents. Up first is the Philadelphia Eagles on the road.

Despite the fact that the Eagles solely occupy last place in the NFC East, they're one of the tougher teams on San Francisco's schedule, and if the 49ers are riding anything remotely classifiable as momentum, they'll need every bit of it to overcome Philadelphia.

Things the 49ers did well in week three? Well, their defense certainly played well, and it'll be depended on once again. The Eagles didn't look good against the New York Giants in week three, especially on offense. Michael Vick had just 176 yards with no touchdowns and an interception before he was injures. Mike Kafka replaced him and threw for 35 yards with two picks. What went well was LeSean McCoy, who had 128 yards and a touchdown.

The 49ers have been good at stopping the run, so for them defensively, they have to be feeling confident. If they can limit the Eagles offense, then they might stand a change on offense. 

On offense is where they've been struggling. Alex Smith hasn't been turning the ball over, but he hasn't been lighting up any secondaries, either. He's a capable quarterback, and Jim Harbaugh continues to talk about the team finding its offensive identity. That could mean that Alex will be trusted to throw more, or it could mean nothing, you never really know which coach speak.

One worrying thing is the 49ers running game, which is near bottom of the league, and when your running back is Frank Gore, that's just not acceptable. Rookie Kendall Hunter has been getting some touches and will likely get some more, but if the offense is to successful, it probably needs to go through Gore. With Bruce Miller likely to be his fullback in week four, Gore really needs to shine and show that he deserves the money he can earn in his contract and help the team win.

So it's pretty straightforward: the 49ers are 2-1, and facing an extremely tough team. They have a lot to work on, and the Eagles will provide a test for anything they're looking to try out. They'll know a lot better where they stand with the rest of the NFL come next Monday. For the Eagles, they need to show that they're better than they've played, and gain ground in a very competitive NFC East. 

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