QB: Peyton Manning
RB: Walter Payton
FB: Tony Richardson
WR: Chad Ochocinco
WR: Terrell Owens
WR: Cris Carter
TE: Antonio Gates
TE: Jason Witten
LT: Walter Jones
LG: Larry Allen
C: Dermontti Dawson
RG: Jerry Kramer
RT: Richmond Webb
DE: Bruce Smith
DT: John Randle
DT: Kris Jenkins
DE: Mark Gastineau
SLB: Wilber Marshall
MLB: Brian Urlacher
WLB: Derrick Brooks
CB: Erich Barnes
SS: Jake Scott
FS: Johnny Robinson
CB: Ty Law
NB: Jimmy Patton
K: Adam Vinatieri
P: Rich Camarillo
RET: Eric Metcalf
Ok, I haven't had much of a chance to put together a write-up for this game, but here it is:
49ers offense vs. Eagles defense
Philadelphia's defense is the toughest one that the 49ers have seen thus far.
Deacon Jones at RDE presents big matchup problems for the Niners and RT Richmond Webb. While Webb is no slouch and one of the best OTs of his era, Jones has the modern DE's size and tenacity and could give Webb trouble at times. If the 1 on 1 matchup gives the Niners trouble, Walsh and Manning can counter with more 3-step game. Witten, a fantastic blocking TE, can also be brought in to help double on Jones.
Leslie O'Neal is also a strong pass rusher, but I'm super confident in the abilities of Walter Jones to protect Manning's blind side. In the middle, Nomellini and Karras are formidable in the middle but very small. Allen and Dawson should have no problems opening up running lanes for Payton in the middle.
For the LBs, Seau is a definite force, but isn't as strong in the middle as he is on the outside, where most of his Pro Bowl and All-Pro seasons came. Bulldog Turner also had an accomplished career, but is more revered as a Center. At linebacker, he could be vulnerable to the Niners' big OL getting to the second level and beating him in the running game. The Niners are mostly weary of Kevin Greene, who is a threat to rush the passer. The 49ers' spread game is a good counter to threatening pass rushes. The screen passing game will take advantage of the aggressive Eagles' defense flying upfield and Payton is a very good receiver out of the backfield. The Eagles will have to sub out one of their LBs, which makes their run defense more vulnerable, or keep their LBs in which makes their pass defense more vulnerable.
The Eagles cornerbacks are formidable. They are reasonably tall at the position (Lane at 6'1, Thomas at 6'2), but it is up in the air whether they can keep up with Owens, Carter, and Ochocinco. The matchup that Walsh and Manning are going to exploit are the Eagles' safeties. Tatum was a fearful hitter but a little overrated (only 3 pro bowls). The biggest mismatch however is their height (Tatum is 5'10, Meador 5'11). Tatum and Meador will have fits trying to cover the athletic and tall TEs (Gates at 6'4, Witten 6'5) and WRs (Carter and Owens run 6'3, Ochocinco 6'1). This will be especially advantageous to the Niners in the red zone
49ers defense vs. Eagles offense
On the offensive line, the most interesting matchup will be Groza vs. Smith. Both were some of the best at their position and the advantage could go either way, but once again, Smith has a huge size and power advantage that won't only help in the pass rush, but also in stopping the run.
The 49ers will be using primarily 4 man rush calls on defense with little blitzing. Smith, Gastineau, Randle and Glover/Jenkins will need to be able to get to the QB. I am confident in this happening as many on my DL were some of the best pass rushers of their era.
In the linebacking corps, Urlacher and Brooks were the main cogs of some of the best defenses of the decade. Urlacher feels right at home in the Niners' Cover 2 scheme, as does Brooks - familiarity will breed success. Marshall brings playoff experience (2 championships with the '85 Bears and the '91 'Skins). Simpson and company will have difficulty producing great yardage on the ground.
The Eagles' WR trio of Brown, Warfield, and McDonald is extremely solid, but I'm not sure if they can exploit my admittedly questionable secondary depth.
Both returners are threats to take it deep. The Niners' Metcalf had 12 career return TDs, while Mitchell had 13. Mitchell gets an edge in the KR game with a higher average per return, while Metcalf has the edge in the PR game.
For the kicking game, while Groza led the league in FG made 6 times and FG % 4 times, Vinatieri gets the edge. Vinatieri is statistically more accurate than Groza and is a big game kicker. Vinatieri is a great weapon to have late in a playoff game.
As for punters, Landeta gets a slight edge in the punting game