49ers have all the pieces to follow in the footsteps of Super Bowl champ Eagles

From the head coach to the franchise face, the Niners look a lot like Philly

Tommy Call
September 06, 2018 - 4:59 pm

The reigning champ Philadelphia Eagles set fire to the NFL last season, running all the way past the perennial favorite New England Patriots for franchise’s first Lombardi trophy.

After such an arrival to the upper NFL echelon, it’s easy to forget that the Eagles had losing seasons three of the last five years, including back-to-back 7-9 seasons before making their Super Bowl run.

Was it a miracle?

No.

Did the Eagles get lucky?

Far from it.

Could the 49ers go on an unprecedented run leading to their sixth Super Bowl title?

Maybe.

As the 2018 season begins, there are several similarities between the 2017 Eagles and the 2018 49ers. How can this year’s iteration of the Niners become the 2017 Eagles? Let’s take a look.

Quarterback

It all starts with the quarterback and for the first time in awhile, the 49ers have a good one.

Can Jimmy Garoppolo play at an MVP-caliber level like Carson Wentz did last season? Potentially. The 49ers solidified their offensive line and backed it up with a loaded receiving corps.

Garoppolo has no excuses, but to be Wentz, Garoppolo will have to really stretch the field with the deep ball, a question mark surrounding his game.

The deep passing attack was something Wentz did well last season and all Super Bowl quarterbacks, for that matter, push the ball down the field regularly; Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers and even Nick Foles.

Looking at Wentz’s stats from last season before his injury he had 3,296 yards passing, 33 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. Extremely efficient football — Can Garoppolo repeat that? With Jerick McKinnon’s injury the 49ers offense will rely heavy on Jimmy G’s arm. Can Garoppolo eclipse Wentz’s statistically? Again, potentially.

Coaching

After being coined one of the least qualified head coaches in NFL history by former general manager Mike Lombardi, Doug Pederson played an integral role in Philadelphia’s Super Bowl season.

To mimic the Eagles ascension, Kyle Shanahan will need to make a jump similar to Pederson’s. Pederson embraced the gritty Philadelphia culture from blaring Meek Mill in the pregame to running gutsy trick plays on the goalline in the Super Bowl.

Pederson weathered the storm after Wentz went down and was able to coach in the same aggressive style during the playoffs with his backup quarterback. Shanahan is an aggressive players’ coach similar to Pederson.

Shanahan might even have the upper hand with his scheme and play calling ability he just has to put it all together in year two just as Pederson did in Philly.

Defense

Everyone will remember Philadelphia’s Super Bowl run because of their dynamic offense led by Foles and Wentz, but their stellar defense is what lead them to the promised land. Similar to Philadelphia, San Francisco’s offense is widely notarized, but a defense led by DeForest Buckner, Reuben Foster and Richard Sherman could separate them from 6-10 to playoff contender.

Philadelphia played solid at all levels of their defense last season, forcing pocket pressure from the interior defensive line and creating turnovers in the secondary. The 49ers have four young defensive players at their corp with Foster, Buckner, Ahkello Witherspoon and Adrian Colbert. The Eagles got heavy contributions from young players like Jalen Mills, Jordan Hicks and Derek Barnett. Sherman should step in as the Malcolm Jenkins veteran role on the backend. Fletcher Cox turned into one of the best defensive players in the NFL last season — a similar route Buckner could take if he continues to wreak havoc in the trenches.

Depth

The biggest question mark in the 49ers-Eagles comparison — depth.

The Eagles dealt with several big time injuries last season starting with running back Darren Sproles early. Sproles, regardless of age was going to play a factor in Philly’s offense, but undrafted rookie Corey Clement stepped up. Can Matt Breida be the guy to fill McKinnon’s void? It’s up to him and Alfred Morris to provide some type of ground game for San Francisco’s offense.

Next up, Philly lost their inside linebacker Jordan Hicks. The 49ers will be without Foster for the start of the season, the green dot will then fall to rookie Fred Warner and veteran Malcolm Smith.

Questions about the 49ers depth will get answered quickly as the club starts the season without two impactful pieces. The Eagles showed that no injury is too big to overcome when they lost their potential MVP, Wentz before the playoff push. The 49ers will need to just hang on through their first few weeks.

Swagger

The last ingredient is a pinch of magic.

How will it come for the 49ers in 2018? Where will it come? Going 6-10 after dropping your first nine games seems like a good foundation for a spark of magic, but can the 49ers carry that over to 2018? We will find out Sunday when the 49ers face the 2018 NFC runner-up, Minnesota Vikings in Week 1.

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