Philadelphia Eagles News

Behind Enemy Lines: Rookie QB Set To Make First Career Road Start

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The 6-1 Eagles will face the visiting 49ers for the first time since 2014. Here are a few players to keep your eye on.

The Eagles host the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. The 49ers overhauled their front office and coaching staff this offseason by bringing in former NFL safety John Lynch to be the team's general manager and former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan as head coach. The 49ers are 0-7 but five of those losses have been by three points or fewer. Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard will make his first start on the road after taking over for veteran Brian Hoyer.

For more insight into the opponent, we go behind enemy lines with 49ers.com senior reporter Joe Fann. You can follow him on Twitter @Joe_Fann.*

1. What's the scouting report on new QB C.J. Beathard?

Joe Fann: Beathard comes from a pro-style system at Iowa, which helps him look the part. As Kyle Shanahan will often say, it's very clear that the game isn't too big for Beathard. That means to say that the rookie looks comfortable. He'll take a big it hit (he's taken some shots already) and get right back up without flinching.

Along with some typical rookie mistakes have been some very impressive throws. Beathard's 480 passing yards in just over six quarters of play are more than Mitchell Trubisky's 348 yards over three starts. He's also sneaky athletic and has the ability to make plays with his legs. Beathard has 44 rushing yards and a touchdown already.

The one thing Beathard really needs to focus on is ball security. He lost two fumbles in Week 7 against the Dallas Cowboys. Getting rid of the football and avoiding costly sacks/turnovers will be paramount against Philadelphia's talented front seven.

2. Kyle Shanahan's offensive scheme has been very successful for many years. How have the running backs and wide receivers adjusted to the new scheme?

Joe Fann: I think everyone likes Shanahan's offense, but it's complex and takes time to master. Remember it wasn't until Shanahan's second year in Atlanta when the Falcons offense turned into a juggernaut. So even with some of the top skill players in football – Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, etc. – making Shanahan's offense hum isn't going to happen overnight.

As for the specific players, Pierre Garçon is headed towards his third 1,000-yard season, Carlos Hyde is just shy of a 1,000-yard pace, and Marquise Goodwin has nearly topped all of his career numbers through just seven games. There just hasn't been enough consistency from the offense as a whole.

3. The 49ers are winless, but most games have been close. How is the team handling the early-season struggles?

Joe Fann: They've handled it as you'd expect, probably. Everyone is frustrated to be 0-7. The stretch of five straight losses by three points or less was one gut punch after another. To their credit, players and coaches have all been accountable and no one is playing the "what if" or "but we've been so close" game. The resolve of the locker room will continue to be tested until the 49ers get their first win of 2017.

4. Who is an X-factor to watch – one on offense, another on defense?

Joe Fann: Offensively I'll go with rookie tight end George Kittle. He played with Beathard at Iowa and has the speed that can stretch the field up the seams. Kittle has struggled with drops, but he still has the athleticism to cause matchup problems for an opponent.

Defensively, it has to be Reuben Foster. The 49ers sorely missed their first-round pick while he was out with a high ankle sprain. With NaVorro Bowman gone, Foster is the one leading the defense and calling plays. He's also a special talent with the ability to make game-changing plays. That's something San Francisco's defense has been lacking all season.

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