As the Eagles turn the page and begin to focus on Sunday night's showdown against the 49ers, here are some of the key matchups to keep an eye on ...
DE Brandon Graham vs. OT Anthony DavisYou don't see two first-round draft picks go head-to-head every week. The 49ers made Davis one of two first-round picks in this year's draft as both selections were used on offensive linemen (OG Mike Iupati). The 49ers' focus this offseason was to fortify the line to pave the way for Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore, while taking pressure off quarterback Alex Smith. However, the 49ers rank near the bottom of the league with just an average of 78.8 rushing yards per game. The 49ers will test Graham to see if they can successfully run at him to try and generate some momentum for the offense.
WR DeSean Jackson vs. SS Taylor MaysWith strong safety Michael Lewis' release, rookie safety Taylor Mays has stepped into the starting lineup. There was no question prior to the draft that Mays had the athleticism to be a good player, but the question was whether he could translate those attributes to the football field. Mays showed some of that athleticism when he recovered a blocked punt in the back of the end zone, while keeping his feet inbounds for a touchdown against Atlanta on Sunday. DeSean Jackson was kept under wraps against the Redskins (3 rec., 19 yards) and he'll certainly want to try and burn the rookie in front of the national television audience.
LB Akeem Jordan vs. TE Vernon DavisWhen it comes to freakish athleticism, Vernon Davis ranks near the top of the list in the entire NFL. After a breakthrough 2009 campaign, one in which Davis caught 13 touchdown passes, Davis is off to another good start with 19 catches for 209 yards and a touchdown this season. Quarterback Alex Smith is prone to relying on the checkdowns so it will be imperative that the Eagles keep Davis in check.
RB LeSean McCoy vs. MLB Patrick WillisRunning back LeSean McCoy has proved over the past couple of weeks that he can be the focal point of the offense. McCoy is much stronger and more decisive than he was in his rookie season and it's showing in his average of 5.5 yards per carry and the fact that he leads the Eagles in receptions. It remains to be seen whether McCoy will suit up this week because of a rib injury. The 49ers run a 3-4 scheme and inside linebacker Patrick Willis is one of the premier backers in all of football. The 6-1, 240-pound Willis is in his fourth season and has accumulated over 100 tackles in each of his first three seasons. The Eagles must account for him at all times.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 9:40 a.m., October 5