Editor's note: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Eagles matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m., at Levi’s Stadium.
49ers LT Joe Staley vs. Eagles OLB Trent Cole
Tale of the tape
Staley (74): 6 foot 5, 315 pounds, eighth season, Central Michigan
Cole (58): 6 foot 3, 270 pounds, 10th season, Cincinnati
[RELATED: Matchup No. 3: Molk vs. Williams]
The 49ers’ offensive line has not been as dominant this season due to a number of factors. Daniel Kilgore has stepped in and played well at center after taking over for Jonathan Goodwin. Right tackle Anthony Davis could replace Jonathan Martin in the lineup as he returns from a hamstring injury. Alex Boone is still rounding back into form after a long holdout, and Mike Iupati has struggled at times at left guard. Staley continues to be the unit's top performer.
Cole is the Eagles’ top pass rusher. The two-time Pro Bowler finished last season strong with nine sacks in his final nine games. His ability to get pressure on quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be key for Philadelphia, which ranks 30th in the NFL in passing defense.
“Their outside ‘backers are big, strong players,” 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “Everybody knows Trent Cole. He’s one heck of a player. He’s quite a load out there.”
Staley must play at a high level in his one-on-one matchup Sunday against Cole because the 49ers might need to provide help for Anthony Davis on the other side against Connor Barwin. Conversely, Cole is being counted upon to provide some help for a defensive backfield that surrendered 427 yards passing last week to Washington’s Kirk Cousins.