Eagles

5 key matchups Eagles need to win to beat 49ers

We'll get to see just how focused this Eagles team is on Sunday. 

It can be hard to get up for games like this. The Eagles head into Sunday's game at the Linc with the best record in football at 6-1 and they'll face a team that is 0-7. The Eagles opened up as huge favorites (12.5 to 14 points). 

On Thursday, Carson Wentz said the 49ers don't look like an 0-7 team when looking at the film. It just depends on which games you watch. Five of the 49ers' seven losses have come by three or fewer points. The other two have been 20- and 30-point losses. That includes a 40-10 loss to the Cowboys last week. 

Here are five important matchups for the Eagles on Sunday: 

Carlos Hyde vs. Eagles' run D
Through seven games, Hyde is eighth in the NFL with 428 yards on 100 carries (an average of 4.3 yards per attempt). He has also caught 27 passes for 162 yards. But his ability in the run game is what the Eagles have to be ready for. 

The Eagles have been incredible as a run-stuffing unit this season. They've allowed just 67 rushing yards per game, the lowest average in the NFL. But they'll have to stop Hyde without their middle linebacker after Jordan Hicks was lost for the season to a torn Achilles. The last time the Eagles faced a really good running back was against the Chiefs when Kareem Hunt went for 81 yards and two scores in September.

RT Trent Brown vs. DE Brandon Graham 
With four sacks, Graham has been the Eagles' best pass rusher and he's been even better than that number suggests. Graham has, at times this season, been a complete game-wrecker. 

Brown, a seventh-rounder in 2015, isn't bad. He's started every game this season and has given up just one sack. But he's a middle-of-the-road type player who might have trouble with Graham, who is built like a bowling ball. Brown is around 6-8/6-9 and 350 to 360 pounds. If he gets his hands on Graham, he'll be able to handle him. If he can't, Graham could have a big day. 

Big V vs. DE Solomon Thomas 
All eyes are going to be on Halapoulivaati Vaitai as he makes his first career start at left tackle. This will be the first time in Wentz's career he won't have Jason Peters protecting his blindside. 

Vaitai actually played pretty well after coming into Monday's game against Washington and there are some good reasons for letting him play left tackle instead of moving Lane Johnson (see story). He'll have a good test on Sunday against Thomas, the third overall pick in the spring out of Stanford. He has two sacks and 24 tackles so far this year. 

WR Pierre Garcon​ vs. CB Jalen Mills
The Eagles will get to say hello to an old enemy this Sunday. Garcon​ was a tough matchup for the Eagles during his years in Washington. Now, he's on a bad team but still having a good year. He leads the 49ers with 38 catches for 483 yards. He's a physical matchup, so that seems to fit the way Mills plays. 

How good has Garcon​ been against the Eagles? Well, he's been better against the Birds than just about any other team. In 11 games against the Eagles, he has 65 catches for 711 yards and four touchdowns. The last eight times he's faced the Eagles, he's averaged five catches for 60 yards.

QB C.J. Beathard vs. Jim Schwartz 
This week on a conference call with Philly reporters, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked how defenses attack a rookie quarterback like Beathard. He said some teams like to blitz and bring pressure to fluster a young quarterback, while others like to sit back and wait for the rookie to make mistakes. So it'll be up to Schwartz to see how he wants to handle this. 

Beathard took the job from Brian Hoyer two weeks ago during the Washington game. The rookie has completed 55 percent of his passes for 480 yards, one touchdown and one interception in two weeks. The third-rounder from Iowa has some talent, but Schwartz has to be pretty excited to get a crack at a rookie with just one start under his belt.