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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

49ers unable to overcome quarterback injuries, miscues in disastrous 31-7 NFC Championship loss to Eagles

Jan 29, 2023 at 3:09 PM--

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1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
SF 0 7 0 0 7
PHI 7 14 7 3 31

The dream run the San Francisco 49ers and quarterback Brock Purdy had been on for the past two months crashed and burned in emphatic fashion at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Sunday, with the 49ers falling 31-7 in a sloppy, injury-riddled NFC Championship loss to the Eagles.

Things got off to an ominous start for the 49ers when they lost Purdy early in the game to an elbow injury, forcing them to turn to veteran Josh Johnson at quarterback for the remainder of the first half. Johnson left the game due to a concussion early in the third quarter, leading the 49ers to put Purdy back in the game. But Purdy was unable to generate much of a spark on offense with his injured elbow, putting the 49ers in a difficult position after trailing the Eagles 21-7 at the half. The 49ers made a number of key mistakes on defense and special teams along the way (two turnovers, 11 penalties for 81 yards), allowing the Eagles to cruise to their first Super Bowl appearance since winning Super Bowl LII in 2017.

Purdy finished with 23 yards on 4-of-4 passing, while Johnson completed 7-of-13 passes for 74 yards. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts completed 15-of-25 passes for 121 yards while rushing for 39 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries.

First Half

The Eagles put the ball in the end zone on the opening drive after an 11-play, 66-yard drive that ended with a six-yard touchdown run by Miles Sanders to take a 7-0 lead. The biggest play of the drive came on 4th-and-3 from the 49ers' 35-yard line when officials gave a 29-yard catch to wide receiver DeVonta Smith that should have been ruled incomplete (the Eagles got the snap off on the next play before the 49ers could challenge the call), then Sanders ran in two plays later to give the Eagles an early lead.

While the 49ers missed the chance to challenge the fourth down catch by Smith, the Eagles didn't pass up a similar opportunity on the next possession and it resulted in the first turnover of the game. On a 2nd-and-6 play from midfield, Purdy was hit by linebacker Haason Reddick, causing the ball to sail high in the air before falling to the ground. The play was originally ruled an incomplete pass but was changed to a fumble recovery upon review, giving the Eagles the ball at their own 44-yard line. But the 49ers forced a three-and-out after the turnover and took over at their own 20-yard line after the ensuing punt bounced into the end zone for a touchback.

Purdy left the game after the hit from Reddick, which forced the 49ers to insert Johnson at quarterback. The 49ers went three-and-out due in part to another sack from Reddick and punted the ball back to the Eagles, who took over at their own 15-yard line. The 49ers responded again on defense by forcing another three-and-out, then took over at the 50-yard line after the punt but were held to a three-and-out of their own and punted back to the Eagles.

The Eagles took over at their own six after the punt, then were forced to punt out of their own end zone after being pushed back to the 1-yard line by the 49ers defense. The 49ers started the next possession at the Eagles' 46-yard line and were able to cash in this time with a six-play, 46-yard drive that ended with a bruising 23-yard touchdown run by Christian McCaffrey to tie the game at 7-7. McCaffrey got the ball in his hands on each of the first three plays of the drive and moved the 49ers down to the 25-yard line, then he made a handful of Eagles defenders miss before strolling into the end zone for the score.

The Eagles responded with a 14-play, 75-yard drive that finished with a 13-yard touchdown run from Sanders, giving them a 14-7 lead with less than two minutes left in the half. The drive gained momentum with an early fourth down conversion deep in Eagles territory, then was aided by three defensive penalties from there before Sanders ran in for his second touchdown of the game.

Disaster struck for the 49ers on the second play of the following possession when a botched snap by Johnson was recovered by Reddick at the 49ers' 30-yard line. The sudden trend of sloppy play continued for the 49ers when a face mask penalty on linebacker Dre Greenlaw put the Eagles at a 1st-and-Goal with under 30 seconds left in the half, then running back Boston Scott ran in from 10 yards out to give the Eagles a 21-7 lead heading into halftime.

The Eagles closed the half with a 15-8 advantage in first downs, a 19:00 to 11:00 edge in time of possession and an overall edge of 166-117 in yardage. The two turnovers loomed large for the 49ers, as did six first half penalties for a total of 33 yards.

Second Half

Things kept moving in the wrong direction for the 49ers to start the second half. After converting on a 3rd-and-13 with a 22-yard pass to tight end George Kittle on the first possession of the half, Johnson was knocked out of the game with a concussion on a 2nd-and-14 after taking a hit from defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Purdy came back into the game to deliver a handoff to McCaffrey, who came up short on third down, leading to a punt back to the Eagles.

The 49ers held the Eagles to a three-and-out, then took over at their own 45-yard line after the punt with Purdy still in at quarterback. They punted back to the Eagles after going nowhere on offense, then were on the verge of getting the ball back when running back Jordan Mason was flagged for roughing the kicker when the Eagles were attempting a punt from midfield. The Eagles turned the penalty into a one-yard touchdown run from Hurts, finishing a 15-play, 91-drive that lasted nearly eight minutes and took up most of the remaining time in the third quarter.

While being limited primarily to running plays on offense, the 49ers moved the ball to their own 47-yard line on their next possession before turning the ball over on downs. The Eagles ran over five minutes off the clock on the following possession, a 9-play, 30-yard drive that ended in a 31-yard field goal from kicker Jake Elliott to stretch their lead to 31-7 with 5:17 left to play.

The 49ers once again turned the ball over on downs on the next possession, but not before frustrations boiled over for 49ers left tackle Trent Williams. The teams started scuffling a bit after the 49ers' third down play, then Williams took matters into his own hands when Eagles defensive back K'Von Wallace wouldn't back away from one of the 49ers' players. Williams grabbed Wallace from behind and threw him to the ground, sparking a brief fight that led to Wallace being ejected from the game, along with Williams.

The Eagles ran out the clock on the next possession, bringing the game to a merciful end for the 49ers. The win gave the Eagles an overall record of 16-3, while the 49ers ended the season at 15-5 overall.

Game Notes: The loss snapped a 12-game winning streak while also giving Purdy his first loss as an NFL starter since taking over for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo in early December... The 49ers now stand at 7-11 all time in NFC Championship games with a postseason record of 37-24... The 49ers now hold a 20-15-1 all-time record against the Eagles. Sunday's game was the first ever postseason meeting between the two teams... Sunday also marked the first postseason appearance for Johnson in 15 NFL seasons. According to Sportradar, Johnson became the third oldest player in league history (36) to attempt his first postseason pass... The Eagles will play the winner of Sunday evening's AFC Championship game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona on Sunday, February 12 (6:30 p.m. ET).

SF Team Stats PHI
83 Passing Yards 121
81 Rushing Yards 148
164 Total Yards 269
5.39 Avg Yards per Pass 4.84
3.38 Avg Yards per Run 3.36
3 Fumbles Lost 0
0 Int Thrown 0
3 Sacks Allowed 1
00:22:34 Time of Pos 00:37:26
11 Penalties 4

49ers Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
Josh Johnson 7/13 74 0 0
Brock Purdy 4/4 23 0 0
Christian McCaffrey 0/1 0 0 0
Rushing Att Yds Avg TDs
Christian McCaffrey 15 84 5.6 1
George Kittle 1 4 4 0
Josh Johnson 2 2 1 0
Deebo Samuel 6 -9 -1.5 0
Receiving Rec Tgt Yds TDs
Deebo Samuel 3 6 33 0
George Kittle 3 4 32 0
Christian McCaffrey 4 4 22 0
Brandon Aiyuk 1 1 10 0
Fumbles Fum Lost
Josh Johnson 1 1
Deebo Samuel 1 1
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
Mitch Wishnowsky 4 42 3 46
Kickoff Returns Yds Avg TDs Lg
Deebo Samuel 65 32.5 0 37
Ray-Ray McCloud 42 42 0 42
Punt Returns Att Avg TDs Lg
Ray-Ray McCloud 2 8.5 0 9
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
Deommodore Lenoir 6-1 0 0 0
Dre Greenlaw 5-4 0 0 0
Arik Armstead 5-0 1 0 0
Fred Warner 4-4 0 0 0
Talanoa Hufanga 4-2 0 0 0
Jimmie Ward 4-0 0 0 0
Charvarius Ward 4-0 0 0 0
Nick Bosa 3-1 0 0 0
Samson Ebukam 2-1 0 0 0
T.Y. McGill 2-0 0 0 0
Javon Kinlaw 1-3 0 0 0
Tashaun Gipson 1-1 0 0 0
Kevin Givens 1-1 0 0 0
Charles Omenihu 1-1 0 0 0
Oren Burks 1-0 0 0 0

Eagles Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
Jalen Hurts 15/25 121 0 0
Rushing Att Yds Avg TDs
Kenneth Gainwell 14 48 3.4 0
Miles Sanders 11 42 3.8 2
Jalen Hurts 11 39 3.5 1
Boston Scott 6 21 3.5 1
Gardner Minshew 2 -2 -1 0
Receiving Rec Tgt Yds TDs
DeVonta Smith 2 3 36 0
A.J. Brown 4 8 28 0
Kenneth Gainwell 2 3 26 0
Dallas Goedert 5 6 23 0
Jack Stoll 1 1 5 0
Miles Sanders 1 1 3 0
Zach Pascal 0 1 0 0
Quez Watkins 0 1 0 0
Kicking FG Att Lg XP
Jake Elliott 1 1 31 4
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
Brett Kern 4 45 0 53
Kickoff Returns Yds Avg TDs Lg
Boston Scott 29 29 0 29
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
Kyzir White 4-2 0 0 0
James Bradberry 3-0 0 0 0
T.J. Edwards 3-0 0 0 0
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson 2-3 0 0 0
Avonte Maddox 2-1 0 0 0
Josh Sweat 2-1 0 0 0
Haason Reddick 2-1 2 0 1
Marcus Epps 2-0 0 0 0
Ndamukong Suh 1-1 0 0 0
Milton Williams 1-1 0 0 0
Javon Hargrave 1-1 1 0 0
Brandon Graham 1-0 0 0 0
Robert Quinn 1-0 0 0 0
K'Von Wallace 1-0 0 0 0
Christian Elliss 1-0 0 0 0
Patrick Johnson 1-0 0 0 0

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