49ers can’t overcome Purdy’s injury and penalties as Eagles cruise to NFC Championship 31-7

San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffery runs past Philadelphia Eagles defenders at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday JAN 29, 2023. (San Francisco 49ers)

by Marko Ukalovic

It was the matchup we wanted, but it wasn’t the game we deserved to watch.

San Francisco 49ers Brock Purdy was injured on the team’s first offensive possession as the Philadelphia Eagles defense set the tone and the home team took advantage of every mistake the visiting team made in a 31-7 victory to win the NFC Championship on Sunday evening at Lincoln FinancialField.

Philadelphia advanced to Super Bowl LVII to take on the winner of the AFC Championship in Glendale, Arizona. San Francisco’s magical run of a 12-game win streak was snapped in a game that went wrong in every way possible.

“Guys are pretty down in there. We were really excited for the game, and we really wanted an opportunity to play that team. They (Philadelphia) played great,” said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.

The Eagle marched down the field on its first possession. On a 4th and 3 from the 49ers 35-yard line, Davonta Smith made an acrobatic, yet controversial, one-handed catch for 29 yards to the six-yard line. It set up Miles Sanders six-yard rushing touchdown.

Purdy was injured when Haason Reddick knocked the ball out of Purdy’s right arm while he was making a pass attempt. The play was initially called an incomplete pass, but the Eagles challenged the play, and it was overturned to a fumble that was also recovered by Riddick. Purdy’s elbow was injured and limited him the rest of the game.

I feel like my arm stretched out, felt like there were a lot of shocks all over from my elbow down to my wrist, front and back. Just pain all over,” Purdy said about how his injury felt.

San Francisco used good field position to set up their first scoring drive. Backup quarterback Josh Johnson marched the 49ers down the field as running back Christian McCaffery was the catalyst as he touched the ball on six plays that finished off with a 23-yard rushing touchdown where he broke two tackles to scamper in for the equalizing touchdown.

Philadelphia answered back just before the end of the first half. Sanders recorded his second rushing touchdown with a 13-yarder with 1:36 remaining in the second quarter to complete a 14 play 75-yard drive. Three penalties by San Francisco’s defense on the drive allowed the Eagles to keep marching down the field to set up Sanders untouched run to the end zone.

On the ensuring drive, Johnson fumbled a snap on a 1st and 10 at his own 36-yard line. Reddick recovered the ball at the 30-yard line.

The Eagles cashed in the turnover with a Boston Scott 10-yard rushing touchdown with :16 left in the second quarter to give Philadelphia a two-score lead.

“A lot of things didn’t go our way. We had self-inflicted wounds on the defense all the way through. However, you want to draw it up or talk about it, it just wasn’t our day,” 49ers linebacker Fred Warner said.

Johnson was injured on the 49ers first drive of the second half when Ndamukong Suh knocked Johnson down hard to the grass and Johnson’s head hit down on the ground suffering a concussion. Purdy came back in but handled the ball off to McCaffery for a short gain making San Francisco punt the ball.

San Francisco’s special teams kept another drive alive for Philadelphia. Jordan Mason was called for roughing the kicker when he ran into punter Brett Kern. The Eagles made the 49ers pay six plays later with Jalen Hurts one-yard rushing touchdown to give the Eagles a commanding 28-7 lead.

Despite Purdy returning to the game, he was not able to throw the ball down the field and San Francisco’s offense became one-dimensional the rest of the game as Philadelphia’s defense did not allow San Francisco to score another point.

Things turned ugly with four minutes left in the game when a big skirmish in the middle of the field led to ejections of 49ers offensive tackle Trent Williams and Eagles K’Von Wallace.

Riddick, who was the defensive MVP for Philadelphia, finished with two sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery & a tackle for loss.

Hurts finished 15 of 25 for 121 yards with no passing touchdowns and no interceptions to go along with his one rushing touchdown. Kenneth Gainwell led Philadelphia in rushing with 48 yards on 14 carries. Sanders chipped in 42 yards on 11 carries to go along with his two touchdowns.

Purdy went 4 of 4 for just 23 yards. Jonhson finished 7 of 13 for 74 yards before his injury knocked him out of the game. McCaffery, despite playing with a calf contusion for the second consecutive week, was the lone bright spot for San Francisco with 84 rushing yards on 15 carries. He also chipped in four receptions on 22 yards.

“It just didn’t turn out our way. We got beat. Wish we had another shot at it with everybody. But that’s life, that’s the way it goes,” McCaffery said.

GAME NOTES: San Francisco finished just 2-for-8 on third down conversions. Philadelphia went 5-for-15.

Philadelphia out gained San Francisco 269-164 in total net yards.

San Francisco still leads the over series with Philadelphia 20-15-1.

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