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How can Eagles slow down 49ers' unstoppable offense?

The Eagles' defense will have their hands full on Sunday with a loaded 49ers offense.

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Their running back leads the NFL in rushing by over 150 yards.

Their tight end is on his way to his fifth Pro Bowl.

Their wide receiver is on pace for over 1,400 yards and leads the league with 19.6 yards per catch.

Their other wide receiver is a threat to score anytime from anywhere on the field and was a 1st-team all-pro two years ago.

If you’re a defense, where do you start?

Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel form one of the most dangerous skill groups in the NFL, and the 49ers have a record-setting quarterback orchestrating the whole thing.

But not only are they all talented, they’re unpredictable. Kyle Shanahan loves moving guys around, lining his star players up in different places and doing everything imaginable to keep defenses off balance.

The challenge facing the Eagles Sunday is slowing down this explosive offense with the NFL’s 19th-ranked defense and 29th-ranked pass defense and doing it without starters Fletcher Cox and Zach Cunningham.

“The offense, it starts with 23 (McCaffrey) back there,” Eagles corner Bradley Roby said. “When 23 is back there, it's a totally different offense. So when they're able to get him going early, get his touches, that opens up things for everybody else. Because now, you're trying to find out where 23 is, if it's run or if he's lining up at receiver or whatever, you're trying to stop him.

"But then you have to deal with Deebo, you have to deal with Kittle, you have to deal with Aiyuk and all the other weapons they have out there.”

The 49ers’ offense is averaging 28 points per game, 3rd-highest in the NFL behind the Cowboys (32.3) and Dolphins (29.5). 

They’re seventh in rushing at 136 yards per game and No. 1 in passing yards per play at 8.9.

In the eight games this year they’ve had Aiyuk, McCaffrey, Kittle and Samuel, the 49ers are 8-0 and have averaged 32 points per game. 

“I think 23 is the challenge you have to start with with a great offense like them,” Roby said. “It's like, ‘OK, let's try to take away 23 first to try to disrupt him.’ If you let him get his going early, then their playbook is just a Rolodex. Let's just run plays and get everybody involved and just over routes and all types of things like that. 

“So that's going to be the challenge. Starts with McCaffrey. In my opinion, he's for sure in the running probably for offensive player of the year right now. He's playing a high level, (averaging) more than a touchdown each game. So, yeah, it's gonna be a challenge for sure.”

If the Eagles are going to slow down the 49ers, they’re going to have to do it at less than full strength. 

With Nakobe Dean out indefinitely and Cunningham out at least for Sunday, all three off-ball linebackers the Eagles will have in uniform – Nicholas Morrow, Christian Ellis and Ben VanSumeren – are guys the Eagles have released at some point.

“They’ve got weapons on every level,” Morrow said. “They present a good challenge on all levels. They definitely want to run the ball. They’ve got good offensive linemen. They’ve got a really good back. Anytime you put the ball in his hands and Deebo's hands - because they both can run the ball and they're both effective at running – it takes a little bit of pressure off of a young quarterback and then kind of opens up some of those windows because you’ve got to respect the run. 

“So they do a good job of keeping it balanced and they do a good job of kind of setting up their next play. So we just got to play with good eyes, good discipline and play the next play because they're going to make a play. They got good players but you’ve just got to forget about it, and play the next play.”

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