Bleeding Green Nation already took some time to chat with Niners Nation in order to preview this gigantic NFC Championship Game matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers and you can read that here.
Today, we’re back with three reasons why each team might lose. This exchange allows us to show what the other side is concerned about.
Read on for why the 49ers could lose, as written by Tyler Austin. To see why I think the Eagles could lose, stay tuned to NN.
3 reasons the Niners will lose
1) Difficulty Stopping a Mobile Quarterback
The Niners defense is nothing if not aggressive, yet that aggression has hurt them when facing mobile quarterbacks. The defensive line rushes from the Wide 9 with a reckless abandon normally reserved for runaway freight trains. This can mean a lot of pressure and sacks, but it can also result in players getting too far upfield and open lanes for a speedier signal caller to escape through. There’s something particularly deflating about playing 3rd and 7 to perfection, only for a well-timed scramble to spoil it. This front will have to remain disciplined to prevent moments just like that from ending their season.
2) Nick Sirianni’s Game Management
The Eagles do not hesitate to go for it on 4th down and when they do they’re pretty good at getting it. Under Sirianni, Philadelphia lined up on 4th down 32 times and converted 22 times, which ranked them second in the league. When asked why he’s so comfortable keeping his offense on the field, Sirianni replied, “I trust Jalen. I trust Jalen. I trust Jalen.” Putting the Niners D under additional stress can only benefit the Eagles over the course of the game, especially when Kyle Shanahan has shown a tendency to get conservative in similar situations. Everything points to this contest being close, so a willingness to go for it on 4th down or for touchdowns over field goals might be the difference.
3) Brock Purdy
A rookie quarterback has never won a conference championship game. This obviously doesn’t mean it can’t happen, and, if anyone’s best positioned to make history, it’s Purdy in this situation. However, he’s still a rookie, and he’s still susceptible to rookie mistakes. We’ve seen them during his brief time as the starting quarterback, and whether or not he can avoid them will almost definitely determine the Niners’ fate. This will be the best pass rush that he’s faced to date and probably the best secondary, too. Will he have time to operate? Will playmakers be wide open for him? Will he stop himself from bailing out of pocket and running ten yards backwards like a man on fire? These questions will be answered Sunday and they will have big ramifications.
And here’s why 49ers fans believe their team can win.
3 reasons the Niners will win
DeMeco Ryans and the Niners Defense
Having the number one defense in the league is usually the reason why any team would have any chance to win any game at any time and that holds true here. The Niners play fast, hit hard, and get after the quarterback. Furthermore, they’ve allowed only 79 rushing yards per game, which should hopefully counteract the strength of the Eagles offense.
They also seem to possess the ability to wear down an opposing unit over the course of game, as evidenced by the month in which they didn’t allow a second half point. DeMeco Ryans has consistently called masterful games for his guys, especially in crunch time, and they’ve executed again and again. If the Niners want any chance at all to win, they’ll need an all-time performance on top of an all-time season and that begins with Ryans, Nick Bosa, Fred Warner, and co.
Kyle Shanahan and 21 Personnel
With the mid-season addition of Christian McCaffrey it seemed as if a long quest had finally come to fruition. Kyle Shanahan gathered the last Infinity Stone, the one that would allow him to snap his fingers and run out a group of skill players who create a mismatch no matter how you approach them defensively. That’s right, positionless playmakers. A concept first perfected by another Bay Area team, the Warriors, which makes the nickname, used by Mina Kimes and Nate Tice, “The Death Lineup,” all the more fitting.
Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, and Kyle Juszczyk comprise said “Death Lineup,” and, boy, do they create conflict for a defense. The Niners are extremely effective at running the ball out of this formation behind the All-World blocking of Kittle and Juice. As evidenced by their three losses, the Eagles have trouble stopping the run without committing themselves to a five man front. What happens when you do that? You take a man out of coverage and allow for Shanahan to find a soft spot in the middle of the field with Brandon Aiyuk or a quick screen to Deebo Samuel on the outside. This could quickly become a game of “Pick your Poison” for the Eagles D and that’s how the Niners will be able to put up enough points to win.
There’s no way around it, over it, or under it, you need a quarterback to win ball games in the NFL, and right now the Niners have a rookie selected last overall in that position. Somehow, it’s working. Purdy, from the moment he stepped foot on the field to replace an injured Jimmy G against the Dolphins, has never looked anything but cool, calm, and collected as the de facto leader of the offense. Whether his poise and confidence were naturally given gifts or arose out of his four years as a starter at Iowa State or from some combination of the two, we may never know. However, they immediately earned him the respect of the team, saving the Niners from having to find a slapdash replacement.
As far as his production goes, Purdy’s brought a level of athleticism that the offense desperately needed at quarterback. He consistently extends plays by evading pressure with his surprising quickness and elusiveness. Often, this ability has led to big gains and touchdowns when they’d have resulted in sacks just two months ago. If Purdy can continue to use his physical tools to see and hit open receivers, the Niners will have a chance in this one.