Fearless Prediction: 49ers-Eagles
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
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.
Inside The Camps
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."
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