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.
Philadelphia DL/LB | Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Josh Sweat, Jordan Davis, Robert Quinn, Milton Williams, Ndamukong Suh, TJ Edwards, Haason Reddick, Kyzir White, Nakobe Dean, Christian Elliss, Kyron Johnson, Patrick Johnson
The Philadelphia defensive front has genuinely been unstoppable this season with the exception of their three losses. Early in the season, the defense settled into a rhythm of creating takeaways and turnovers and never looked back. There’s not really a standout player that had a season above the rest, but each player contributed greatly when it mattered most.
Brandon Graham, who really built a case for Comeback Player of the Year with 11 sacks, 35 tackles and 16 quarterback hits, among other great stats, came off an ACL injury last season. One player that’s been stable on the Eagles for years has been T.J. Edwards, continuing to fly under the radar having a fantastic season with 99 solo tackles, two sacks and five quarterback hits, among other stats.
Offseason additions contributed greatly to the success of the team. Haason Reddick and Jordan Davis, just to name a few, brought some much-needed help to the Eagles defense.
Overall, the pass rush has been complete, with the Eagles becoming the first team to have four players with 10 or more sacks in the same season. Reddick had 16 while Graham, Josh Sweat and Javon Hargrave all added 11 of their own. Fletcher Cox, who had his best season since 2018, added seven of his own while Milton Williams has begun to build on his early career success and added four more in his second season.
In total, the team added 24.5 sacks from the interior offensive line – a consideration that may weigh heavily in this game due to the interior weaknesses of the San Francisco offensive line.
49er DL/LB | Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Drake Jackson, Charles Omenihu, Kevin Givens, Samson Ebukam, Kerry Hyder Jr., Jordan Willis, Javon Kinlaw, Ty McGill, Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Azeez Al-Shaair, Oren Burks, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles
The highlight of the 49ers front seven are certainly Nick Bosa and Fred Warner. Bosa had another career year on his way to leading the league with 18.5 sacks. He is absolutely the player that the Birds will be paying attention to most up front. It should also be noted that Bosa had 51 tackles (19 for loss) on the season, so he will not only be a threat in regards to rushing. For his part, Warner is the top run defender on the team, with a team leading 130 tackles. He can do it all and added two sacks, 10 defensed passes and an interception onto that number. He’ll be the linebacker that Hurts will be looking out for most.
After those two, Dre Greenlaw is the clear-cut next biggest threat. He can fly around the field, as evidenced by his 127 tackles, but would not be a player likely to rush/get home on the quarterback, though he does have some coverage skill to watch out for.
Outside of Bosa, the 49ers defensive line does not have a standout guy. The trio of Samson Ebukam, Charles Omenihu and Drake Jackson are the majority of the rest of the pass rush with 12.5 sacks and 70 tackles between them. They are quality players, but none of them particularly stand out from the group of edge players around the league, though Omenihu did have a big two-sack, three-tackle game in the wild card round.
Penn State product Kevin Givens is really the most notable defensive tackle San Francisco has to offer. Over the year he added 20 tackles as well. Former Eagle Hassan Ridgeway would be their second-most notable defensive tackle (or arguable their top option at the position), though he is on IR and unavailable. He lead 49ers defensive tackles with 28 tackles during the regular season.
Bosa is clear and away the best edge defender of anyone on both teams, but Sweat, Graham and certainly Reddick would be the next bunch. Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave is better than any other edge, let alone DT the 49ers have. The three top defensive ends after Bosa have had the same combined effectiveness of the double-teamed Fletcher Cox and rotational player Milton Williams, both going up the middle, which is not ideal. San Francisco would probably have the lead for edge rushers if they had a player like Sweat or Graham to pair with Bosa, but one player being top heavy at the position does not trump the three-man rotation that the Eagles can throw part of out there every play.
Up the middle, there really isn’t a contest. The Eagles have the top three options at the position and Linval Joseph, who only played half the season, and Jordan Davis, both of whom have been rotating in as backups along with Ndamukong Suh, were able to put up the same numbers and level of play as the 49ers top options at the position.
At linebacker, there is simply no contest for Fred Warner being the clear-cut top option. TJ Edwards may well be the second-best out of both teams, but Dre Greenlaw is right there and the duo of Greenlaw and Warner puts San Francisco in the drivers seat there.
Across the position groups, that’s a 2-1 advantage for the Eagles.