Leading up to the Eagles match-up with the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Sports Talk Philly and Eagledelphia will compare the personnel of the two teams each day until gameday is here.
In this edition of our week-long comparison, we will look at the running backs that the Eagles and 49ers will field on Sunday.
WRs & TEs | Devonta Smith, AJ Brown, Quez Watkins, Zach Pascal, Britain Covey, Dallas Goedert, Jack Stoll, Grant Calcaterra
The Eagles have new record holders here – two of them. While AJ Brown set a record with 1496 yards on the season (88 receptions and 11 touchdowns), DeVonta Smith set a receptions record with 95 on the season (1196 yards and seven touchdowns).
Beyond that, the Eagles receiving corps has not been stellar with Quez Watkins, a player arguably responsible for four interceptions and a lost fumble over the last several weeks, posted just 33 receptions and 354 yards with three touchdowns on the year. In far fewer snaps, Zach Pascal added 15 receptions for 150 yards and a touchdown as the fourth option.
At tight end, Dallas Goedert is the unquestioned star. In just 12 games, he posted 702 yards and three touchdowns on 55 receptions, putting him on pace for 994.5 yards had he not missed five games as a result of an uncalled facemask penalty by Washington. The Birds second tight end, Jack Stoll, does not have eye-popping stats (11 receptions, 123 yards) but is one of the leagues best blockers at the position, helping more in the running and screen game than he does in the passing game.
Britain Covey serves mainly on punt returns while Grant Calacatera is typically only found if there is an injury at tight end.
49er WRs & TEs | Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud III, Danny Gray, George Kittle, Ross Dwelley, Tyler Kroft, Charlie Woerner
Deebo Samuel is the name that most people are more likely to know, but you could debate whether he is the 49ers top guy or not because Aiyuk has been so good. Samuel missed some time this year (four games) that put his number back a bit. He ended the regular season with 632 yards receiving and just two touchdown reception, but he is also threat to run as the 49ers utilize his speed. On the ground he added 232 yards and three touchdowns on 42 attempts. Deebo can be a bit more of a boom or bust type player and his playoff games are an example of that: in the wild card round he tallied up 165 yards and two touchdowns while in the divisional round he managed just 56 yards on eight touches (no scores).
For his part, Aiyuk has been the more consistent option for the 49ers. He totaled 1015 yards and three touchdowns over the course of the regular season. He does have his ups and down like all players do, but he has had between 37 and 84 yards in 16/20 games this season as a player who will typically get his share of catches and yardage.
Jennings and McCloud have served as the third and fourth options respectively this season. Jennings added 416 yards and a touchdown in the regular season and has made a pair of catches in each playoff game so far. McCloud added 243 yards and a touchdown of his own during the season, but has taken only a handful of snaps with the offense during San Francisco’s playoff run.
Danny Gray is an interesting choice for a roster spot. He has just one catch for 10 yards on the season and one rush for nine yards. He’s the type of player you’d expect plays a lot of special teams snaps, but he doesn’t – he’s played more special teams snaps than offensive snaps in just three of 15 games this season (including playoffs).
The name George Kittle is known across the football community, but like Christian McCaffrey, he is simply not the player he was a few years back. Once a clear top-five player at the tight end position who would challenge Travis Kelce for the top spot, Kittle suffered an injury in 2020 and hasn’t been the same since. He missed only two games this season and put up 765 yards with 11 touchdowns, making him still an easy candidate for a top-five spot at the position, but certainly not challenging for the top spot overall.
Kroft serves as the primary backup for Kittle and sees most of the remaining offensive snaps available on the offense, but he operated mostly as a blocker and put up only 57 yards on the season. Dwelley typically serves as the backup for Kroft and is usually found on special teams with only a handful of offensive snaps avaiable to him if Kittle and Kroft are good to go. He had broken loose a few times earlier in the season, recording 105 yards on three catches, but he’s only seen 12 offensive snaps since week eight.
Woerner serves only on special teams.
This is a close match-up. The Eagles clearly have the two top receivers in this group this season, but Aiyuk did have 1,000 yards and Samuel should have had 1,000 yards (albeit a combination of rushing and receiving) had he not missed so many games. When you get down to depth, the pair of Jennings and McCloud have been far more involved in the 49ers passing game than any third receiver has for the Birds.
In 12 games Goedert put up nearly the same amount of yardage that Kittle did in 15, but Kittle clearly had the stronger presence in the red zone. The 49ers also lack any real depth at the position outside of blocking. The Eagles backup at the position, Jack Stoll, is comparable to what the 49ers have, but San Francisco lacks a second option as a receiver at tight end, something that Grant Calcaterra had begun to grow more into during Goedert’s absence.
With things really even at tight end, the balance is tipped by the top-heavy receivers that the Eagles possess with eye-popping stats in catches and receiving yards. The 49ers do have the edge when it comes to depth and could easily take the lead here if something were to pull Smith or Brown from the game, but for now the Eagles squeak out another win at the position.