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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers’ 2022 Season Has Officially Been Ruled ‘Out’ - SF 7, Philadelphia 31

Jan 29, 2023 at 5:35 PM--

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It wasn't supposed to end like this. But in the end, what did you expect? This is who the 49ers are.

Not a bad team, no. God, no. If that's what you think after watching an NFFCG collapse, I humbly request you consider this game tomorrow. A week from now. With a bit of distance, tracing the arc of the whole season.

That still doesn't change the fact that this game was ugly. It was horrific. No, it was worse - a farce. This was Kyle Shanahan trying to bluff an invading army with a tea party out in the open. There's no blame to be laid at his feet here. Maybe against another army, a team less consistently aggressive and outside of its home turf. It's just not a strategy that works against Nick Sirianni's Eagles. Playoff football is a game of matchups, and about six minutes into the game, a matchup that the 49ers felt pretty good about inexorably changed.

In the end, this is who the 49ers are. Built. Talented. Dripping with skill, grit, and charisma. Snakebit.


The 49ers have been the league's most injured team 3 times in the last 6 years. They've been out of the top ten maybe maybe twice in the last 15. I've made the claim before that as soon as the 49ers end the season with a below-average amount of injuries, they're going to win the Super Bowl by three scores.

That season has yet to come.

San Francisco is well-coached, well-respected, and hungry to end a Super Bowl drought going on 28 years now. They just can't stop the agony that comes from watching your stars fall to the turf, clutching their limbs in pain. Sitting on the bench, tears in their eyes as they realize that the spirit is willing, but their body is broken. A cycle of hope and despair that raises you up and dashes you against the rocks time and time and time again.

Underneath it all, it wasn't a bad game, at least from a schematic standpoint. Strip away the raw emotions, the desperation and resignation as the 49ers' fourth quarterback went down. Watching these Niners play their hearts out under the most gut-wrenching circumstances imaginable was a treat. There was Charvarius Ward, stride in stride with AJ Brown and Quez Watkins as the Eagles tested him in key situations and failed. There was Nick Bosa, blowing up run plays in the backfield as the Eagles' touted rushing attack was detonated in the backfield more than a few times. There goes Christian McCaffrey, running through a Market Street crowd en route to the 49ers' only score of the day. This team, at many points today, showed exactly why they belonged here.

And they didn't ever really go away. Even when it became clear that Brock Purdy's miraculous reentry into the game was just so that the 49ers could have someone behind center who wouldn't fumble the ball before he handed it off, the 49ers were pulling orbit motions and double reverses and throwing Christian McCaffrey passes out of the wildcat. With about 4 minutes left in the game, the Eagles instigated a fight, and Trent Williams slammed down an Eagles player after nearly a full minute of scuffles forming and benches clearing. Despite losing 31-7, it sure felt like San Francisco was definitely one of the four best teams in the NFL, at least going into this offseason.

Which raises several interesting questions about how the 49ers will approach next year, having come this close to a Super Bowl, even outside the looming quarterback decision. That one seems fairly straightforward, at least in theory; moving on from Garoppolo's contract means that the Niners still have two starting-caliber quarterbacks for the price of effectively one first-round rookie contract. There's certainly going to be a debate about what Purdy and Lance can be expected to contribute, and who the QB3 will end up being, but that precludes the obvious fact that the 49ers are pretty much the only team in the league who can even think about getting to a conference title game with their third quarterback. There's little chance that the Chiefs, Eagles, or Bengals even make it to the playoffs if their starting QB suffers a season-ending injury in the first month of the season.

More interesting will be how the 49ers add talent to the offensive line, despite the fact that it outperformed expectations all season long. Maybe Mike McGlinchey is the Jimmy Garoppolo of the offensive line, and the 49ers need to use some freed-up cap space to get a premium tackle in the way that Lane Johnson was for the Eagles. Maybe there's an All-Pro center in this year's draft, another Creed Humphrey if the 49ers can use their seventeen thousand competitive balance picks to trade up for him. There are some tough questions the Niners should be asking themselves on that front.

The Niners also need to upgrade a defensive line, which feels weird to say after investing so heavily in it every year. Nick Bosa's in line for a big extension, but if today showed anything concrete, it's that he alone can't neutralize the passing game against a mobile quarterback with a great offensive line. The Eagles had four legitimate pass rushers in their defensive front, and with very-good-but-not-great individual efforts from guys like Ebukam and Armstead, the Niners just couldn't make the game-breaking plays that Philly did. They need to find or develop a legitimate pass-rushing threat opposite Bosa and at least one interior guy, the way Frank Clark and Aaron Donald and Fletcher Cox have been for Super Bowl teams.

But before all that, 49ers fans will have to decompress in the face of yet another disheartening playoff exit. Maybe if they weren't playing in Philadelphia, like might happen if the NFL moves to neutral-site conference title games, the 49ers spot the AJ Brown non-catch and take 7 points off the board. Maybe if they're not down by 7, they don't lean as much towards the pass, and Purdy doesn't suffer the final nail in the season's coffin. Certainly, if Purdy isn't out, Josh Johnson doesn't inexplicably fumble a snap he's received 30,000 times in his career and gift Philadelphia another touchdown. Maybe the Niners defense definitely wouldn't have to play twice as much as the offense, since the offense would still be able to pass the ball past the line of scrimmage, and we'd get to see an actual game between the NFC's elite. Maybe.

There are worse ways to lose. The Giants got shellacked last week in a similar score, and their greatest takeaway was how far away they really are. Dallas lost to the 49ers last week, and their franchise is in existential turmoil. The 49ers lost today, and they simply have a great coach, a great front office, a well-set up quarterback situation, an All-Star roster, and continuity up and down the organization. They played in 20 out of a possible 21 games this season. That's a lot of quality football. They should be proud.

They also face another year of the Sisyphean task of winning a Super Bowl. Once again, the boulder rolls downhill despite everyone's best efforts. They were set up so well this year, but now it's back to square one, and the season is long and full of ACL tears. Soon, there will be rumblings and activity that once again inspire hope of the perennial dream of championship glory, for hope springs eternal. For now, as winter crests, the 49ers head home into a deep and unsatisfying rest.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Steve
    We can all save time by just giving the SB trophy to the Eagles now. The Bengals had to play the Chiefs and the refs and still could have won. The Chiefs don’t stand a chance against a good team without the refs in their pocket which the NFL won’t allow.
    Jan 30, 2023 at 1:53 PM
  • Ger
    We'll be back next season. You can bet on that.
    Jan 30, 2023 at 2:27 AM
  • Forever faithful
    Your articles are always depressing
    Jan 29, 2023 at 11:09 PM
  • Reno Mike
    Questionable call on coaching. Hassan Reddick was second only to Bosa in sacks this year. Today,I saw a third string tight end trying to handle him alone on the play Purdy got injured. Great play design! Shanny is no genius.... he's the Donovan McNab of coaches... gets you close and breaks your heart.
    Jan 29, 2023 at 6:15 PM


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