San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh wasn’t sure who the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles will be this week. Would it be Michael Vick, who is nursing a bruised non-throwing hand, or Mike Kafka?
“I think we have to be prepared for both and [Eagles QB] Vince Young as well, until we have more information,” Harbaugh said on Monday.
That information now is out and it looks like Vick is likely to play on Sunday.
But even with a bruised hand, how effective with Vick be? His biggest challenge is handling snaps from under center. Being able to get a good grip on the ball could give Vick trouble. And that might be a very good sign for the 49ers and their seventh ranked defense.
Obviously for Vick, since the injury is not on his throwing hand, he won’t be hampered with his throws. But securing the ball on a scramble could force Vick to only carry the ball on his left hand. That might cause some issues if Vick can’t protect the ball with two hands and he is opened for big hits.
In 10 quarters of play this year, Vick has fumbled the ball seven times. For a 49ers defense that has started to emphasize more on the pass rush, there might be some opportunities to force turnovers. Vick’s mobility will still be a challenge, but ball security could be the difference in the game for him.
But if Vick doesn’t play, Mike Kafka could be the Eagles’ option at quarterback. In only two career games (both this year), Kafka has gone 11-16 for 107 yards and two interceptions. It’s hard to break film on a player that hasn’t played much in the league.
Vince Young, however, is one player the 49ers will be familiar with. Young, then with Tennessee, came to San Francisco in 2009 and led the Titans to a 34-27 win. Young didn’t particulary have an outstanding game (12-19, 172 yards) but he had a lot of help from running back Chris Johnson’s 135-yard, two touchdown rushing performance.
And as long as the Eagles have a strong running game, that will open up the passing attack for the Eagles. LeSean McCoy has been dynamic this season as the Eagles running back and the Eagles have relied on him as the huge trendsetter on offense. He will have to clash with a 49ers team that hasn’t given up a 100-yard rusher in 25 straight games.
The matchup against the Eagles this Sunday might be closer than some people will predict. But the biggest challenge for the 49ers will be the preparation for all the Eagles’ quarterback options. And if it does end up being Vick, it might not be that bad knowing Vick’s history with ball security this year.