March 23, 2023

49ers @ Eagles — NFC Championship Preview

Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The wait for this game felt longer than the wait with a bye week. It is NFC Championship day! The Eagles will be hosting Brock Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

The Eagles will be hosting their 2nd NFC Championship in 5 years and playing in their 7th since 2000. That is the most in the NFC. The Eagles are the first team in NFL history to make it to two Championship games with a different Head Coach, and QB in 5 years. Even so, don’t take this for granted.

Brock Purdy

After Injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers are starting “Mr. Irrelevant” Brock Purdy. Purdy, who was the last pick in last year’s draft, is 7-0 since taking over the 49ers’ offense. Purdy has gotten a ton of media attention since the playoffs started, with some even saying he is better than Eagles QB Jalen Hurts. Purdy has done a great job starting in his teammate’s places, but he has his flaws.

READ MORE: Brock Purdy will not succeed at Lincoln Financial Field

In his first playoff game against the Seahawks, he struggled early. In that game, he had 9 turnover-worthy plays, and 0 of them resulted in turnovers. In a game where the Seahawks turned the ball over if any of those switched the game could have been a different story. Against the Cowboys, he got even luckier. Driving down the field to take the lead Purdy made a bad decision in the red zone, that was in the hands and dropped by Trevon Diggs. If he holds on the 49ers don’t get the eventual game-winning touchdown and we might be seeing the Cowboys later today. Purdy also had another interception dropped earlier in the game. If he is going to put the ball in harm’s way, the Eagles have to capitalize.

To stop Purdy the Eagles need to take away the middle of the field. Of his 19 completions against the Cowboys, 12 were over the middle of the field. George Kittle is his security blanket and he loves to work in the middle of the field, so the Eagles need to find a way to keep him in check.

Of Purdy’s 7 wins, 5 of them have been home. In his two road games, the team and he have not played as well. According to Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94.1 WIP in his college career, Purdy was 21-4 at home and just 10-13 on the road or a neutral site. This will be his first road playoff game, in the biggest spot of his career. A team the Phillies played described the Philly playoff crowd to Rob Thompson as “4 hours of Hell”. Philly, you know what to do.

Neutralizing Bosa

The best player on the 49ers is Defensive Player of the Year’s favorite Nick Bosa. Bosa has 18.5 sacks while also forcing 2 fumbles. But, Bosa is yet to have a sack in his two playoff games so far. You can either look at it as he is due, or someone has figured something out on how to stop him. He usually lines up on the bottom of your tv screen which is great for the Eagles as he would be going against Lane Johnson. The Eagles All-Pro Tackle is nursing an injury but has proven he is the best Tackle in the game. If anyone can neutralize Bosa one on it its Lane.

With all that being said, they could move Bosa around. The 49ers only have one other player with 5 or more sacks and that is Samson Ebukam with 5. For comparison, the Eagles had four players with 10 or more sacks this season. I would not be surprised if they try and move Bosa onto Jordan Mailata and have a rotation against Lane. The 49ers’ defensive line has a great reputation because of Bosa, but it may not be as daunting as people make it out to be.

READ MORE: Haason Reddick Is Quietly Becoming One of The Best Pass Rushers In the NFL — Meet the Eagles “Freddie Kruger”

22/22 Starters

One of the biggest stories about this game could end up being health. 49ers Running back Christian McCaffrey practiced for the first time on Friday as he has been nursing a calf injury. McCaffery was limping around a little in their win against the Cowboys and he was also not in the game in the final two minutes. This is extremely telling because the 49ers were trying to run down the clock to win the game, and he wasn’t out there. McCaffery will be active.

Another major player nursing an injury is Deebo Samuel. Samuel missed practice on Wednesday with an ankle injury. His best attribute is his speed, and it is safe to assume that with an ankle injury, that aspect of his game might be limited a little bit. He will also be active, but it will be something to watch.

One player who is questionable for the 49ers is backup running back Elijah Mitchell. Mitchell did not practice all week with a groin injury. If he does not play this could be big for the Eagles. If McCaffery is unable to go at any point in this game the 49ers would be down to their third-string back. The 49ers wanna win by running the ball, and with their top two guys nursing injuries, it could make them somewhat one-dimensional.

For the Eagles, the big news was that there were no players with an injury designation for the game. Cornerback Avonte Maddox will return to the starting lineup for today’s game and they will have 22 out of 22 starters all playing in this game. This is massive for the Eagles as the 49ers rotate a ton of players out of the slot. In the games he has played, he has played very well. This also means that C.J. Gardner-Johnson can return to his safety position. Gardner-Johnson lead the league in interceptions this season from safety and with him being back there today, he might be able to do some damage.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: