By Tiffany Williams –
On Saturday the Philadelphia Eagles will host the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC Championship Game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The San Francisco 49ers return to the NFC Championship Game for the second-consecutive season and the third time in the last four seasons. With a 38-7 home win over New York in the NFC Divisional Round, Philadelphia earned its seventh conference title game under Jeffrey Lurie’s ownership and their eighth overall since the 1970 merger. The Eagles have played in the 2nd-most conference championships in the NFL since 2001, trailing only the New England Patriots with 13 in that span. The 49ers are entering the NFC Championship after a 19-12 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Round.
San Francisco led the league in both total defense (300.6 yards allowed per game) and scoring defense (16.3 points allowed per game) this season. The 49ers are looking to become the fourth team in the past 10 seasons to lead the NFL in total defense and make the Super Bowl in the same year, joining Denver in 2015 and Seattle in both 2013 and 2014.
Philadelphia ranked second in the NFL in defense this season, allowing 301.5 yards per game. The Eagles also led the league with 70 sacks, tied for the third-most ever by a team in a single season. They can become the fifth team since 2000 to lead the league in sacks and make the Super Bowl in the same year, joining Denver in 2015, Pittsburgh in 2010, the New York Giants in 2007 and Seattle in 2005
The 49ers have 36 total playoff wins and with a victory at Philadelphia on Sunday, will tie the New England Patriots for the most postseason wins by a franchise in NFL history.
San Francisco 49ers QB Brock Purdy on Friday was asked How difficult is it to treat this like just any normal week? And he said “I mean, there’s pros and cons to it. I feel like for the most part we’ve done a good job of just keeping it simple. It’s another week in terms of preparation and the game planning and going to practice and everything. I just feel like it’s the moments of in between practice or before you go to bed thinking about man, what an opportunity that we have. You can say it is just another game, but man, there’s, there’s a lot on the line. All of our goals and dreams of everything are in front of us. So you want to do everything you can to accomplish that. So it is a little different.”
San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans on Thursday was asked how has Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts evolved since he last saw him in week two of last year? Ryans said “Jalen is looking a lot more comfortable within the offense, and scheme wise, it seems like they’ve put in more concepts that he’s more comfortable with and he has a really great command of the offense. He’s decisive with where he’s going with the ball and they surround him with a lot of playmakers, adding [Philadelphia Eagles WR] A.J. Brown. Has a lot of playmakers around him, [Philadelphia Eagles WR DeVonta] Smith, Brown, the backs, tight ends, they have a really good core of guys, he distributes the ball really well. And those guys are really good after they catch the ball of making a guy miss and creating space and getting more yards after the catch, so they’ve done a really good job of just tailoring the offense around Jalen and that’s what makes him look more comfortable.”
When asked if the Eagles offensive line was capable of meeting the 49ers defensive line’s force and violence, Ryans said “Their offensive line is the strength of that team. You have two veteran guys there in [Philadelphia Eagles C Jason] Kelce and [Philadelphia Eagles T] Lane [Johnson] who’ve been together for a while and they anchor that line. They’ve done a really good job, very physical group, big offensive line, physical offensive line who tries to get after it and they’re a really good team, but also our guys are good too, so it’s going to be a physical matchup. We know we’ll get their best, they’re going to get our best as well.”
Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Nick Sirianni, Friday was asked How much thought and discussion he has had about the hypothetical decision that he would have if an overtime comes up? Sirianni said, “Yeah, we’ve talked about it quite a bit. Obviously won’t get into the decisions of what we get into, but we think about everything. That’s the fun part of this job is just putting yourself through scenarios that you might not ever get to. That’s how game planning goes, too.
We’ve thought a lot about it, had a lot of discussions about it, been able to talk to some other coaches about it, and obviously talked to our own staff through it. We have a plan in the event that happens.”
When asked what his primary messaging to the players has been this week, Sirianni said “We’ve talked a lot. I’m going to keep a lot of that in-house this week, but we’ve talked a lot through last week was, hey, this is what we do well, let’s continue to do these things well. That’s what the bye week was for. That’s what you do when you’re winning, when you’ve won the 14 games and then get into the playoffs. You don’t just start fresh. So, there’s a little bit of that, of like, hey, here is our routine, here is what we do, here is our process and we are going to continue doing that. But obviously, too, like some other things, this is going to be a physical game. We know how physical they are. We know how physical we are. It’s going to be a physical game on both fronts.”
Kickoff for the NFC Championship Game on Sunday is at 3:00 PM on Fox