In the 1980s, Bill Walsh’s 49er teams actually had a better record on the road than at home. You can look it up. That hasn’t been the case lately. The 49ers in the last eight years and three games are 15-50 on the road, which, needless to say, makes last Sunday’s win in Cincinnati and anomaly.
Now they’re in a much more hostile environment against a team loaded with Pro Bowl talent on both sides of the ball. It’s a game that can easily get out of control, and coach Jim Harbaugh knows that.
At the same time, the Eagles have been called the Dream Team. Many “experts” picked them for the Super Bowl, yet here they are at 1-2 and their quarterback has been dinged up. The pressure is on.
That is to the 49ers’ advantage. If they can control Philly’s ground game, harass Vick into some bad throws, gain ground in special teams exchanges, you’ll hear the boos from Iggles fans. Music to 49er ears.
Moving the ball on offense will be crucial; and so far Alex Smith has earned an A in the way he’s kept his cool in the pocket despite getting sacked 11 times but throwing only one interception. But the Niners will need more than the 13-point effort in Week 3.
If Smith can get some time in the pocket for deep throws, and if the defense can control McCoy, the 49ers will be very competitive. For Eagle fans who, entering the game, will expect an easy game over a doddering San Francisco team, that can be frustrating. And if there is anything that’s consistent about Eagle fans, it’s their ability to voice their discontent.
If the 49ers walk off the field at Lincoln Stadium with a hard-earned W, there will be plenty of booing – at the Eagles. That should be San Francisco’s goal.