Eagles vs. 49ers key storylines to watch in Week 2

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5 key storylines as Eagles host 49ers in Week 2 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Coming off a big win over Atlanta in the opener, the Eagles (1-0) are hosting the 49ers (1-0) at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.

The Eagles are 3-point underdogs, according to PointsBet.

Here are five big storylines for the Eagles’ opener:

Can Hurts and Sirianni do it again?

Jalen Hurts and Nick Sirianni were both tremendous in the 2021 season opener. It was Sirianni’s first game as a head coach and Hurts’ first game in Sirianni’s offense but it didn’t look like it. Sirianni said he still has plenty of tricks up his sleeve but after months of speculation the Eagles finally had to put their offense on tape last week. So the 49ers have something to work from … but the Eagles know that too.

The 49ers are a better team than the Falcons but if the Eagles are as precise and creative in Week 2 as they were in Week 1, then this is a very winnable game.

Welcome back to the Linc

I can’t wait to drive to work on Sunday and see those parking lots full of tailgaters. Last year was weird. There were only a few games with some fans in attendance and watching football in the Linc without fans just didn’t feel right.

Coming off a win in Week 1, you know the stadium is going to be electric on Sunday afternoon for the home opener. And I can’t wait.

“Yeah, I'm excited,” Sirianni said. “I’m excited, definitely, to get this home crowd behind us. What a great football city this is. Fans are the best in the NFL.”

Look at the lines

Like we already mentioned, the 49ers are a better team than the Falcons. But if the Eagles’ offensive and defensive lines continue to dominate the way they did in Week 1, then the Birds are going to be in every game this year. Howie Roseman built this team thinking of the lines first and that showed in Week 1.

On offense, the line of Jordan Mailata, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson has the potential to be one of the best in the league. And seeing those guys block downfield on screen plays is incredible. Health is going to be the major concern here but it also sounds like Landon Dickerson is getting close to being ready.

And on defense, that unit simply wore down the Falcons’ offensive line last week. A much bigger challenge on Sunday but the rotation is going to keep those guys fresh late in the second half. We saw it in the opener. They got more pressure as the game went on.

The challenge of Shanahan

Jonathan Gannon’s defense really settled down after a rough start in Week 1. They gave up two long drives early but held the Falcons to field goals and really shut down some explosive weapons.

But things don’t get any easier this week. Because the 49ers have some dynamic weapons in George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, but the star of the show is still Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The phrase “eye candy” will get thrown around a lot on Sunday. It basically means that everything that offense does is to get the defense looking in the wrong direction. You know it’s coming but it’s still tough to defend.

“Yeah, we just broke a staff meeting here now,” Gannon said, “and that was kind of the last thing we just talked about was whatever your job is within the defense, you have to look at the right thing. The reasoning behind what they do, all the motions, adjustments, all these people moving around, looks are different, is to get your eyes in the wrong spot, then they take advantage of that.

“We have to be in a phone booth of what we're looking at because this is my guy that is going to tell me what I have to do. From there you have to practice it the right way and keep reiterating to our guys shrink your world and lens. You don't have to see everything. You don't have to see the big picture. Some guys do, but not a lot of them.”

Almost Heaven

The 49ers played in Detroit in Week 1 so instead of heading back to San Francisco and then making the cross-country trip, they posted up at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, this week.

This isn’t something new for the 49ers. As our NBC Sports Bay Area colleague Matt Maiocco said on the Eagle Eye podcast, the 49ers have been staying on the East Coast between games dating back nearly a decade. Even last year, they stayed at the Greenbrier between Weeks 2 and 3 when they played the Jets and then the Giants. They won both of them.

And in 2019, the 49ers stayed in Youngstown, Ohio, for a week and spent another week in Florida to avoid long travel. The Niners stayed in Youngstown between their opener in Tampa Bay and Week 2 in Cincinnati. They won both. Then they stayed in Florida between their games against the Ravens and the Saints. They lost to the Ravens in Week 13 but beat the Saints in New Orleans in Week 14.

So the 49ers in the last two years are 3-0 in the second game after staying away from home for a week.

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