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49ers Notebook: Deebo Samuel backs up the smack; Brock Purdy returns to scene of injury; Jauan Jennings beats his favorite team

Dec 3, 2023 at 8:54 PM--

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It's not often that a player can back up copious amounts of trash talk the way Deebo Samuel did against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, but that's exactly what happened during the critical beatdown the 49ers unleashed on the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.

Samuel was among multiple 49ers players who expressed confidence over the offseason that the result in last season's NFC Championship game, won 31-7 by the Eagles, would have been different had quarterback Brock Purdy not suffered a season-ending elbow injury during the contest. No one was more vocal on that front than Samuel, who said things like "We lost because we played with ten people" while adding that the Eagles were his least favorite NFL team. Samuel at one point also called Eagles cornerback James Bradberry "trash."

Naturally the spotlight was on Samuel when the 49ers returned to Philadelphia this weekend, and he responded with his best game of the 2023 season so far. Samuel caught four passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns in the 49ers' 42-19 win while rushing for 22 yards and one touchdown on three carries. The Eagles may have been determined to shut Samuel up heading into the game, but Samuel was more determined to back up his words.

"Oh, I ain't gonna lie," Samuel told reporters after the win. "I was in that zone like all week long for us."

Samuel has clearly had his eye on Sunday's game since the NFC Championship loss, and when game week finally came around, he picked up the intensity. After being slowed in recent weeks due to a shoulder injury, Samuel was ready to shine against the Eagles and cashed in on the opportunities he was given during the game.

"Going into the week, obviously, Deebo had a little something to him," Purdy said Sunday. "That's just that's just who he is. And he can do that. He's good enough to do that. But was it a distraction or anything like that? No. Deebo's practiced hard all week. Every single week he's done that.

"And he's been very consistent this year. But going into this game, yeah, he had a little something, little history with obviously the way things went down last year in the playoff game. And he's definitely looked forward to this game coming back into this place. So he was pumped about it and stoked and ready to go. And man, all I had to do is give him the ball and some space and he made the rest happen."

Samuel's performance drew praise from his defensive teammates as well, starting with linebacker Fred Warner, who said he wasn't surprised by anything Samuel did on Sunday.

"Deebo is one of the best football players I've ever seen," Warner said. "Performances like that don't surprise me. It's only a matter of time when he does kind of pop off like that. And people were saying things about things that he may have said before the game, but I think it's safe to say his actions spoke louder than his words."

Defensive end Nick Bosa spoke highly about Samuel patiently waiting for his turn to shine despite the heavy expectations that came with the eight-figure contract extension he signed before last season.

"I think he's the epitome of unselfishness," Bosa said. "He got paid, and obviously that comes with a lot of pressure to be the guy. And when you have so many dudes, you're not going to get those ops very often. But I love the fact that he could talk and set the stage and walk into a hostile environment and just thrive, and that's what greatness is made of, for sure."

The 49ers and Eagles may meet again once the postseason arrives, which might bring a new round of talk between Samuel and the men in green. But for now, Samuel has won back some bragging rights, while wanting the Eagles to know he was only having some fun at their expense over the last few months.

"I mean, it's part of the game," Samuel said. "Hopefully nobody took it to heart because it's just all fun and games at the end of the day."

Purdy keeps focused on the task at hand

The return to Philadelphia meant something different to Purdy, who saw his storybook finish to the 2022 season take on an unhappy ending when he tore the UCL in his right shoulder after taking a hit in the NFC Championship game from Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick. The injury led to Purdy losing his first game as an NFL starter after unexpectedly taking on the role following an injury to Jimmy Garoppolo earlier in the season and brought forth months of rehab that left him on the sidelines throughout offseason workouts.

But Purdy was able to keep last season in the rearview mirror on Sunday and remain in the present, which obviously helped the 49ers get to where they wanted to go in the end.

"I mean, it was sort of in my mind, yeah," Purdy said. "I got hurt here. You know, that was this year, late in January. But was it going to be the revenge game or anything like that? No, for me it was week 13. We're going into a whole it's a new year, hostile environment. We needed this game. We need this game. And obviously we have some really important games coming up, too. So that's where I was at with that.

"I didn't want to get distracted by I got to go back and show everybody what could have happened or what could have been. Got a new team. This is 2023, and that's where my mind was at."

There was no special focus on Reddick either, who got to Purdy again for a sack in the 42-19 loss on Sunday.

"Like I said before, that was a football play. It happened," Purdy said. "He was trying to get the ball last game. That's just how it all happened. And so going into this game, they have so many other good players. We weren't just, 'Hasson Reddick, we've got to be careful.' Yes, obviously, we honored and respected him and what he's done, but was I so concerned about him in the game? No. It was what the whole defense is doing as a whole. So he's a great player, and that's where we were at with that."

The Eagles were flying after Purdy early in the game as they held the 49ers to minus-6 yards in the first quarter. But Purdy and the 49ers remained calm and were able to completely turn the tables, while getting some of the bad taste of last year's loss out of their mouths in the process.

"No one was freaking out or anything," Purdy said. "It was more like, 'Man, we just got to get the ball rolling.' We need a positive play. We need to envision and see a positive play and have some momentum be created off that. And especially for myself as a quarterback, I just needed to see myself completing a ball, get a completion, get things rolling, and we did that. Kyle called some plays to allow us to get the ball out of my hands pretty quick, just to get into a rhythm. And once we did that, we rolled from there and we didn't look back."

Not a favorite anymore

49ers receiver Jauan Jennings had a memorable day on Sunday for a couple of reasons. Not only did he get in on the 49ers' scoring act with an 18-yard touchdown catch, but he was able to beat the team he grew up a fan of as a youngster in Tennessee.

"This was my favorite team growing up," an elated Jennings told after the game. "What's ironic is my first reception, first target, first catch ever was in this stadium as well in 2021. It was for a touchdown. To come back here two years later and score a touchdown, that means everything."

Maybe Jennings will cheer for the Eagles again someday, but he couldn't have been happier to hang a loss on them this time around.

"Growing up, Philly being my favorite team, they're not tonight," Jennings said.

Knew it all along

As previously mentioned, a number of 49ers players were confident they would have beaten the Eagles in the NFC Championship game had Purdy stayed healthy. And at least one of them was confident they'd beat up on the Eagles on Sunday now that Purdy was in the lineup.

The player in question was left tackle Trent Williams, who told reporters after the game he was expecting the 49ers to perform the way they did on Sunday.

"I guess it's up to you all to kind of interpret it, but I had full confidence that we would have this type of game from the jump," Williams said. "We got a quarterback, so it made it a lot easier this time."

Payback earned

Another player not hiding his happiness about the win over the Eagles was defensive end Nick Bosa, who admitted after the game he was pleased to get a little revenge after falling short in January.

"It means a lot. Obviously we wanted some payback," Bosa said. "We tried not to think too much about last year, but we knew we could match up with them and more than that. So I think we proved a good point."

If the need comes to have to beat the Eagles a second time in the weeks ahead, Bosa will be confident they can get the job done once more.

"Obviously we might have to do it again against them," Bosa said. "They're a really good team, but I just have so much confidence in everybody and I think the unselfishness throughout the entire team on offense and defense, nobody needs to be the guy. There's 20 guys who could be the guy, and it just depends when your moment comes that you're ready for it."

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