SANTA CLARA -- When the 49ers are on defense Sunday, there won't be time for celebrating a great play, or complaining to officials about a bad call or conferring with teammates about an alignment. Because when you are facing an Eagles offense that forgoes a huddle and can snap the ball five seconds from when it was set, typical post-play routines go out the window.
“That's the first thing I said to them during the week – your normal routine between plays is altered in this game,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Thursday. “From talking to the guy next to you about what just happened in that play, everything that players talk to each other about between plays has to be limited in this type of game.”
Philadelphia's offense, which ranks sixth overall and has the NFL's No. 2 passing attack, presents a steep challenge to the 49ers' scout team as well. All week they are not only mimicking the Eagles' playmakers, such as running backs LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles, they are striving to get in and out of plays as rapidly as the Eagles offense.
Fangio said the scout-team offense will run two or three plays in quick succession while the defensive coaches will wait as long as possible to signal the play to the defense.
“We won't let our defensive players know what call we're in until very, very late (in) trying to simulate how it will be in the game,” he said.
Safety Eric Reid said the approach was similar to the way it was in 2011 when his LSU team took on Eagles coach Chip Kelly's Oregon squad. Reid said the trick was striking a balance between practicing fast and not wearing yourself out in the run-up to the game.
Kelly's offense certainly can take its toll on defenses, which is perhaps why Philadelphia has outscored opponents 74-24 in the second half.
“It could be (an issue), depending on what the team's conditioning is,” Reid said. “Us? I think we're in pretty good shape. Hopefully that won't be an issue for us and we can get some turnovers in critical parts of the game.”
The role of speedy Sproles, who is averaging 6.9 yards per carry and 14 yards per reception is being played this week by 49ers receiver Bruce Ellington, who portrayed cousin Andre Ellington last week when the 49ers were preparing for the Cardinals.