The biggest grudge match in this Sunday's Eagles-49ers game probably won't get to take place. Hanging above Jason Babin's locker on Wednesday was a picture of former Eagles and current 49ers backup offensive tackle Chris Patrick. Babin and Patrick routinely got into shoving matches at training camp.
On the picture, it had the quote, "I'm coming for you."
Patrick may not get his hands on Babin, but running back Frank Gore certainly will have his crack at the Eagles defense. The reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week rushed for 167 yards on 25 carries in the 49ers' 24-9 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Gore capped off the scoring with a 2-yard plunge for his seventh rushing touchdown of the season. With 835 rushing yards this year, Gore is close to breaking the 1,000-yard barrier for the fourth consecutive season. In the meeting between the Eagles and the 49ers last October, Gore rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown.
"He's got speed. He's not afraid to hit the hole and he's not afraid to hit back," Babin said. "In my opinion, if I were one of those fantasy league football guys, he'd be one of my picks. But we're excited to line up and get after it."
Priority No. 1 on Sunday is stopping Gore. The Eagles have not allowed a running back to gain 100 yards in 20 regular season games. If the Eagles accomplish that, the next objective is to get to 49ers quarterback Alex Smith. The Eagles have just nine sacks in their last five games after totaling 27 in the first eight. Babin explained that the reason for the decline is the change in protections up front.
"Everyone's like, 'We need more pressure, we need more sacks.' But teams have been going with max protects, slides, squeeze - the numbers are against us," Babin said. "We got some reps in the game (vs. Giants) man-to-man. We were so excited. A lot of people don't get it from the outside looking in, they're like, 'Oh, we should have more sacks.' Well, it's four-on-seven and they throw it quick."
Babin nearly sacked Giants quarterback Eli Manning in the end zone in the final minute of Sunday's game, but Manning got the ball out at the last possible moment.
"I watched that over. That was a sack/safety. If you're laying on your bellybutton and throw the ball, you're down. Right? From the grand scheme of things, it's a moot point because the game is over," Babin said. "I sure as heck wanted that on my stat box. But the most important thing is that we win the game, we got after it. It wasn't pretty. We're advancing."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 5:28 p.m., December 16