Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni was back to work on Monday to prepare for the NFC Championship game, and spoke to reporters about a lot of different aspects of the San Francisco 49ers. Sirianni also gave some injury updates, including a new one on A.J. Brown, and talked about the secondary and the whole group of defensive coaches.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
- Sirianni acknowledged that A.J. Brown was dealing with something that was hurting him, and that’s why he was on the sideline at the end of Saturday’s game. The head coach also addressed Brown seemingly upset, explaining that he wanted the ball — as all good players do — but they were running the ball so well, no one really got a lot of targets, including Brown.
“But that’s what you want from your receivers, to want to have the football. Part of the reason why receivers are good is because they want and crave the football. They want the ball to change the game. But make no mistake about it, he was thrilled that we won the football game. Always wants to be involved, obviously, in the plan. He blocked his butt off, and you could see how excited he was when he sprang that block for DeVonta’s [Smith] touchdown.”
- The head coach said he would let Jalen Hurts answer on how he feels, but the team thinks the QB is continuing to get better. Overall, they think he came out good, but didn’t want to try to gauge how sore he is.
“We got through healthy, not only Jalen [Hurts] but the rest of the team, and yeah, so we’re excited, obviously, about the health of our football team right now.”
- Sirianni said that they are hopeful that Avonte Maddox might be back soon, but he still has to get out on the field and do drills, so it’s not something they know for sure, yet.
On Jalen Hurts’ demeanor
Despite the QB only being 24 years old, Sirianni explained that the moment isn’t too big for Hurts because his demeanor has and will stay the same as it’s been every day since he got to Philly.
“You just don’t all of a sudden change just because the situation changes.
That’s what we think as a team, and I know Jalen, he’s going to be locked in, and he’s going to work and prepare every day to be ready for this game, and he’s going to be ready to go. I know that.
He’s going to be that same calm, steady person that he is each and every week. You just don’t automatically change.
That’s obviously a really important trait to have as your leader, as your quarterback, somebody that doesn’t ride the waves of the season, doesn’t ride the waves of a game. He stays steady and is truly in the moment of the next play.”
The head coach later talked about comparing Hurts to Michael Jordan in his post-game comments, and explained that the two have a similar will and determination to win. Sirianni said that above all the tangible things Hurts has done to be successful this season, the thing that he thinks about most, is the QB’s competitive spirit and desire to win. Those two guys are built different as far as how they go about their business, how they prepare and compete, and how they have a steady presence.
On the Eagles’ secondary
Sirianni said that he felt the Eagles secondary played really well against the Giants, and they have been getting consistently good play out of that entire group. He credited Jonathan Gannon, Dennard Wilson, and D.K. McDonald for coaching up that room. He took a moment to give Wilson a lot of credit for being a great leader and bringing that DB group together to play as one.
He also admitted that they have really good players there, too, with James Bradberry, Darius Slay, Reed Blankenship, Marcus Epps, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and Avonte Maddox, and also pointed out that K’Von Wallace has given the defense really meaningful reps this year, too.
“I thought we played physical, and I think Chauncey has done a really nice job of stepping in the nickel position. That’s so important that we have these guys that can play multiple spots, and that really has helped us as we’ve gotten dinged a little bit with Avonte of being able to move Chauncey in there, and you have Josiah Scott that we trust, as well, that’s contributed on special teams and has given us some meaningful reps, as well.
You can’t say enough about the coaching that they’ve gotten from Dennard and D.K.. Then again, just Slay is the leader back there of just bringing the guys together, as well. James has been a great addition. I could go on and on about how good this group has been, and I do believe that it’s that iron sharpens iron. We’re really good in the secondary, and we’re really good at wide out, and they’ve made each other better through the battles that they’ve gone against, that they’ve done all year, similar to our O-line and D-line.”
On DL coach Tracy Rocker
Sirianni had a lot of good things to say about Rocker, who he called a great coach and very detailed. He noted that the guys trust him and like playing for him, and he’s a grinder. Sirianni told a story about not being able to sleep last week and went in at 4:00 AM, and Rocker was coming in right behind him. The head coach was a little surprised, but no one else was, saying that Rocker always gets there around 4:00 AM, that’s just what he does.
The DL coach is doing everything he can to put guys in positions to make plays, and as a former player, Sirianni said Rocker can relate to his players in a different way.
“Have you ever seen his hands?
They’re jacked up beyond belief. I think that’s how you determine — and then [Josh Sweat] Sweaty’s hands are like that, too. You determine how good a D-lineman was by how jacked up their hands were. I didn’t get to see him play in the ’80s, but judging by his hands, he was a monster over there at Auburn.”
On preparing for the 49ers
Sirianni has some connections with the Iowa State staff, so the head coach has some familiarity with Brock Purdy from a scouting standpoint. He noted that the QB is a winner who did a lot of things for his college program. He’s close with Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell, who heading into the draft last year, told him that Purdy was a quarterback who can lead the way, find the right place to go with the football consistently, and is a playmaker.
Sirianni acknowledged that he’s always studying good coaches, and Shanahan is someone that has a great reputation around the league, and he’s been a great offensive coordinator and offensive mind.
Over the years, Sirianni has worked with guys who have also worked with Shanahan, like Brian Hoyer, who thought highly of the 49ers head coach.
“I remember asking him questions, what did Kyle do in this scenario or that scenario, so just highly impressed with him as a football coach. I don’t know him all that well, just to say hello, and I’ve heard nothing but great things about him as a person, as well. I have a lot of respect for him as a football coach and all the success he’s had.”
“One of the most impressive things about coaches that I see sometimes is when their guys are just like selling out for them, and I really see that with DeMeco Ryans’ defense. I see his players genuinely selling out, and you can see their interactions in the game, right, when you watch it on television. You see those guys playing really hard for him.
Why does a player play really hard for a coach? I think one thing that happens is they really recognize that that coach cares about them as a person. They really recognize that that coach is genuinely making them better.”
Sirianni didn’t hold back, admitting that the 49ers are a really talented team. He has a lot of respect for their linebackers, Fred Warner and Drake Greenlaw, in addition to the players along the defensive line, like Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead. The head coach also mentioned San Francisco’s safeties can cause havoc.
And then on the offensive side, Sirianni pointed to their unique skill players with Deebo Damuel, Christian McCaffrey, and George Kittle. The head coach noted that he really like Brandon Aiyuk coming out of Arizona State, and he remembers thinking very highly of him during the draft cycle.
“You can tell Kyle [Shanahan] does a good job of really coaching the details to the wide receivers. You see them running good routes, really detailed routes.”
Sirianni emphasized that they have a lot of good playmakers who are really well-coached, both offensively and defensively, so it’s no surprise that they’ve won so many games in a row. He admitted that they are going to have to have a plan in play to keep San Francisco’s good players from wrecking the game, but the Eagles have the personnel to do that.
“There’s a lot of good-on-good out there that’s going to be happening in this game.
That’s what the NFC championship game should be. It’s going to be good-on-good, and it’s going to be tight.”