Fearless Prediction: 49ers-Eagles

Game Snapshot

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

SURFACE: Grass

TV: FOX (Dick Stockton, Charles Davis, Laura Okmin)

KEYS TO THE GAME: 49ers TE Vernon Davis is of particular

concern to the Eagles. He’s QB Alex Smith’s favorite target over

the middle, and opposing tight ends have caught a combined 70

passes in Philadelphia’s past 10 games. San Francisco featured more

of RB Frank Gore on Monday night, and the result was far improved

play overall from the offensive line. The Eagles have a

quick-strike offense, but they have to be wary of the 49ers’

improving pass rush after San Francisco relentlessly battered Kurt

Warner. It’s imperative for the Eagles to utilize RBs LeSean McCoy

and Leonard Weaver on the ground and in the short passing game to

avoid constant third-and-longs.

FAST FACTS: Smith is the first 49er to throw multiple

touchdowns in four consecutive games since Jeff Garcia in 2003. …

Weaver is averaging 6.8 yards per touch over the past seven games.

Personnel News

49ers:

  • LB Patrick Willis is making a case for NFL Defensive Player

    of the Year with an impressive all-around season. Willis leads

    the 49ers with 147 tackles, according to the coaches’ film

    review. He has 13 tackles for loss and four sacks to go along

    with two interceptions and three forced fumbles.

     

  • LT Joe Staley is expected to return to action Sunday against

    the Philadelphia Eagles after missing the past six starts because

    of a knee injury. Barry Sims has played well since taking over

    for Staley on the first series of the 49ers’ Nov. 1 loss to the

    Indianapolis Colts.

     

  • QB Alex Smith appears to be getting closer to winning the

    team’s starting job for next season. “I think he will continue to

    improve as he gets more familiar with planning the game itself

    within the constraints of the offense,” 49ers offensive

    coordinator Jimmy Raye said. “I would think, for this

    organization, that he would be their quarterback in 2010, yes.”

     

  • TE Delanie Walker, who has gotten more action in recent

    games, did not practice Thursday because of an ankle injury.

    Walker has 13 catches for 163 yards this season, but has only

    been featured in recent games as the 49ers have gone with more

    two-TE sets.

     

  • RB Frank Gore, coming off a 167-yard performance against the

    Arizona Cardinals, returned to full practice after reporting a

    toe injury. He should be fine for Sunday’s game against the

    Eagles.

    Eagles:

  • WR Kevin Curtis was a full participant in practice for the

    second straight day and probably will see his first action Sunday

    since Week 2. He has been out with a knee injury.

     

  • WR Jeremy Maclin, who has a partially torn plantar fascia in

    his foot, didn’t practice Thursday and isn’t expected to play

    Sunday against the 49ers.

     

  • RB Brian Westbrook, who has missed six of the last seven

    games after suffering two concussions, practiced on a limited

    basis Thursday but isn’t expected to play Sunday against the

    49ers.

     

  • TE Brent Celek practiced on a limited basis Thursday after

    missing Wednesday’s practice with back soreness. He played

    through it last week and probably will attempt to do the same on

    Sunday.

     

  • LB Akeem Jordan likely will rotate at middle linebacker with

    Jeremiah Trotter again on Sunday. Jordan missed four games with a

    hyperextended knee before returning last week. Once his knee is

    close to 100 percent, he’ll likely return to his regular

    weak-side linebacker spot.

     

Inside The Camps

49ers:

The 49ers have reason to feel good about how young defensive

players Ahmad Brooks and Dashon Goldson are improving late in the

season.

Brooks has risen recently to become one of the team’s top

pass rushers, while Goldson has shown tremendous improvement over

the past month of the season.

Brooks, who did not play a snap for the 49ers last season

after being claimed off waivers from the Cincinnati Bengals,

recorded three sacks Monday night against the Arizona Cardinals. He

now has five sacks for the season.

“Patience is a virtue, and I’ve been very patient,” Brooks

said. “It’s time to let the dog loose. It’s time to get the cage

open and show what I’m capable of doing.

“I’ve been here since last year and been doing everything

the coaches ask me to do, and everything is paying off because I

don’t complain about it.”

Goldson had the best game of his professional career on

Monday, as he recorded two forced fumbles and an interception. He

also pried the ball loose from Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald

to prevent a long touchdown pass.

Goldson is second on the 49ers with 100 tackles. He has

three interceptions, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a

sack on the season. And the 49ers feel good about his ability to

affect change during the course of a game.

“He’s got some range,” 49ers defensive coordinator Greg

Manusky said. “That’s why we drafted him where we did. He did a

good job making plays on the deep ball and coming up and filling

(gaps) in the run game. He’s had some good games the past couple

weeks.”

Eagles:

Wide receiver Kevin Curtis is expected to see his first game

action in nearly three months Sunday when the Eagles host the San

Francisco 49ers.

Curtis, who caught 77 passes for the Eagles in ’07 after

signing with them as a free agent, missed seven games last season

with a sports hernia and has been out since Week 2 this year with a

knee injury. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in late

October.

He returned to practice on a limited basis two weeks ago but

has been a full participant this week. With Jeremy Maclin expected

to miss the game with a torn plantar fascia, Curtis likely will be

activated. How much he’ll play remains to be seen.

Reggie Brown and Jason Avant will rotate at the starting

wide receiver spot opposite DeSean Jackson in two-wide receiver

sets.

“There’s a plan for Kevin,” offensive coordinator Marty

Mornhinweg said. “So we’ll go about it like that with a plan. I’m

sure Andy (Reid) has talked to him. I’ve talked to him. And so I

think he’ll be effective within that plan.”

Curtis probably won’t play more than seven or eight snaps on

Sunday as the Eagles try to ease him back in.

“You know how we do that with a man that hasn’t played for a

period of time,” Mornhinweg said. “We’re going to do it in a

certain way. The communication is critically important between him

and the trainers and the head coach and me. So we have a plan and

those plans can change depending on how he’s feeling.”

PREDICTION: Eagles 26-20