There was one thing other than playoff talk that the Eagles weren't quite ready to face yesterday.
That would be the prospect of welcoming Brian Dawkins to Lincoln Financial Field next weekend in a Denver uniform.
"He's a great player and an even better person," Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said after his unit shouldered the load in defeating the 49ers, 27-13. "He's a class act, and he's been an influence on my life, for the better. He plays for another team right now. Our players have got to go out and we've got to dominate, we're going to come out focused, just like we did this week. He's going to bring a lot of energy. We've got to match that energy."
What it boils down to for McDermott, he said, is "I acknowledge he's on the other sideline, and I've got to get my defense ready to play."
Corner Sheldon Brown, who considered Dawkins a mentor, said: "I'm sure the fans will welcome him the right way. It's one of those memorable moments and games . . . that's what it's all about."
Quintin Mikell, Dawkins' partner at safety in recent years, said he thinks the strangeness of seeing No. 20 flexing and preening for the other team at the Linc will wear off as the game progresses.
"It's going to be really emotional, especially at the beginning of the game," Mikell said. "I think that once the first hit happens, everything will go away. Once that first kickoff happens, it will all go away. Before the game, I'm sure it will be really emotional for the fans, coaches, everybody, but at the end of the day, it's just 11 guys on that field, and once we get to hitting and pounding, that's all that matters."
Um, Leonard . . .
Need ya over here
With no timeouts left, the Eagles could have taken one shot at the end zone after Donovan McNabb's pass to Jason Avant gave them first down at the 49ers' 8 with the clock ticking down inside 20 seconds to go in the first half. But as the Birds scurried to the line, fullback Leonard Weaver was jaw-to-jaw with linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who was on the Eagles' side of the line. Donovan McNabb waved and yelled in vain. Finally, Reggie Brown ran over and directed Weaver to the backfield, so McNabb could spike the ball. Only 5 seconds remained, though, so the Eagles opted for a 26-yard David Akers field goal.
"I had chipped him pretty good and he was saying some things to me I can't really say [on TV or in the newspaper]," Weaver said. "For a second, I got off focus. I thought we had a timeout, that's why I was kind of just laying back . . . that was a kind of bonehead play by me. I've got to pay more attention."
Theoretically, since Weaver doesn't have to be in one particular spot when the ball is snapped, McNabb could have just called for the snap and waited for a delay-of-game penalty on Brooks.
"The only thing I was afraid of with snapping the ball was that if they would have separated from their little conversation, [Weaver] would have been moving" when the ball was snapped, which is a penalty, McNabb noted. "If we had gotten a penalty, there would have been a 10-second runoff, and we wouldn't have gotten any points."
Just for starters
Moise Fokou was introduced with the starters, at strongside linebacker, but because the Eagles started out in the nickel, he didn't actually start. In fact, he didn't see the field until the third series.
Chris Gocong, the normal strongside starter, might have slipped in for a snap or two, but was not part of the regular rotation for the first time in years.
Tracy White said 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, Fokou's friend and former Maryland teammate, irritated the Birds by jawing at Fokou during warmups. Davis, the 49ers' top receiver this season, was targeted eight times but caught only three passes, for 43 yards. *