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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Javon Hargrave, Eagles were motivated by George Kittleā€™s comments ahead of NFC title game vs. 49ers

Mar 29, 2023 at 11:09 AM

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This week, San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Javon Hargrave shared some behind-the-scenes details leading to this past season's NFC Championship Game between his new team and his former one, the Philadelphia Eagles. The defensive lineman shared that comments by one 49ers star provided some bulletin board material for the Eagles, who went on to beat the 49ers 31-7, advancing to Super Bowl 57.

Leading to the game between the two NFC powerhouses, Kittle was asked about the matchup and how the Eagles' roster compared to the 49ers'.

"We'll see on Sunday, won't we?" Kittle responded. "I mean, they've got six first-round draft picks on the D-line. They have physical guys in the secondary, physical guys at linebacker. Whatever you see on paper, sure.

"When you look on paper, you say, 'Yeah, we should be able to match physicality,' and things like that, and then you get on the field on Sundays and the film after the game will show you exactly what you're asking. I know we're going to come out and be violent and physical. I'm expecting them to be the same thing. But we'll see."

Apparently, those references to the Eagles matching up "on paper" lit a fire under the 49ers' opponent. Although, some of that might have been manufactured, as it sounds like Kittle was complimenting the Eagles roster while expressing confidence in his own.

The Eagles viewed Kittle's comments as disrespectful and were motivated by them.

"That was something," Hargrave said on Monday morning during an interview on 95.7 The Game. "Coach (Nick Sirianni) had put it up on a board and tried to give us a little motivation before the game. Just reminding us that, basically, they said we were a paper team, they were saying we were a paper team and stuff.

"That was something people took personally and just wanted to go out there and prove [wrong]. But I think that's all of us. When we hear someone talking down on us that just gives us a little motivation, so I think that was just a little motivation for us in that game."

One of Hargrave's former teammates discussed Kittle's comments after the NFC Championship Game.

"When he said that we looked good on paper, in a football world, we know how to take that," Eagles cornerback Darius Slay said during his podcast. "That's basically saying not too physical. As a defense, with us being one of the best defenses in the league as well, we took that as kind of disrespect."

Now that Hargrave and Kittle are teammates, will the defensive lineman bring up the comments with the tight end when the 49ers' offseason program begins next month?

"I'm not going to change nobody from being them, but I might say a little bit," Hargrave admitted on Tuesday during an interview on NFL Network's NFL Now. "I might tell him kind of what we did when he said some of the things that he said that kind of motivated us.

"But some people just talk junk, and some people, that's how they perform. That's their thing. But, yeah, I wouldn't discourage him from being him."
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