This was a weird one! To start, at least.
Early on, the Birds had an opportunity to break this game open. Their opening drive featured a crazy one-handed DeVonta Smith fourth down catch (that may not have actually been a catch) that set up a Miles Sanders rushing touchdown. Then Haason Reddick strip-sacked Brock Purdy, who got injured on the play, to give the Eagles a chance to go up two touchdowns.
But Philly failed to capitalize with their offense struggling to get going against the 49ers’ stout defense. And despite being down to fourth-string quarterback Josh Johnson, San Francisco was able to tie the game at seven all due to a great touchdown run by Christian McCaffrey that also involved a lot of bad Eagles tackling.
The Eagles answered right back with a long touchdown drive — which was assisted by multiple 49ers penalties — with a lot of running to retake the lead. And then the Eagles’ third touchdown was set up by a short field after Johnson fumbled and the ball was recovered by Reddick (who else?).
The game was capped off with the Eagles going on yet another long drive with Jalen Hurts sneaking it in to go up three scores late in the third quarter.
Speaking of the Eagles’ quarterback, he was certainly not his sharpest in this game. Hurts failed to capitalize on the 49ers’ weakness against deep passes with too many inaccurate throws. But Hurts deserves credit for using his legs in some key spots. And he didn’t put the ball in harm’s way, which has been a strength for him all season long.
Hurts was ultimately aided by the defensive dominance (three takeaways) and a strong performance from the Eagles’ running game (257 yards and 4 touchdowns) against 49ers defense that entered this game allowing the fewest rushing yards per attempt in the entire NFL. The Birds will need Hurts to be better the next time that he plays. The good news is that he gets two weeks to rest his shoulder before that one!
The Eagles are going to the big game for the first time since winning Super Bowl LII in February 2018. It’s there they’ll face the winner of Sunday night’s AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals.
Just one more win away from the Eagles claiming their second Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Read on for a recap and stay tuned for BGN’s postgame coverage, including the BGN Radio postgame show!
- The 49ers won the coin toss and elected to defer to put Jalen Hurts on the field first. Boston Scott took the opening return to their own 34-yard line. Nice start. A bit of a scrum broke out after the play but no flags were thrown. Chippy. 49ers star linebacker Fred Warner went down on the Eagles’ second play, which was a Miles Sanders run that resulted in a first down. Nick Bosa drove Lane Johnson back to force Hurts into a run to the sideline for no gain to set up 3rd-and-8. On third down, Hurts somehow completed a pass to A.J .Brown over the middle despite having a free rusher in his face. Wow. Crazy that Hurts was able to get off a catchable pass and a nice grab by Brown to keep it off the ground. Facing another third down, Hurts completed a pass to Goedert to bring up 4th-and-3. On fourth down from the opposing 35-yard line, Hurts didn’t have a lot to work with so he rolled left ... and found DeVonta Smith for a ONE-HANDED CATCH along the sideline. Wow. Credit to DeVonta for immediately getting up and telling the offense to get a play off to prevent the 49ers from challenging in case it wasn’t actually complete. After a wasted play just to prevent a challenge, Sanders got into the end zone with a big hole up the middle. Easy. Incredible start. Upon further review, DeVonta did NOT catch it ... but ... hey. It counts! EAGLES 7, 49ERS 0.
What a catch by DeVonta Smith on 4th down!! pic.twitter.com/f5vymGk47p— Shane Haff (@HAFFnHAFF_TPL) January 29, 2023
- The 49ers used six plays to drive to the 50-yard line ... where Haason Reddick got to Brock Purdy to affect the QB’s throw and almost create a pick for T.J. Edwards, who dropped it. After a challenge, however, it turned out that Reddick strip-sacked Purdy and it was a fumble! Has Reddick has been an absolute beast or what?
- The Eagles took over at their own 44-yard line. They went three-and-out after a Kenneth Gainwell went for no gain on 3rd-and-4. Brett Kern almost pinned the 49ers deep in their own territory with a coffin corner punt but it went out of bounds for the touchback.
Kenneth Gainwell 3rd down runs have been working recently but there’s something about failing in a situation where you had the ball in his hands in a high leverage spot that doesn't feel great when there are so many other better options to utilize.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) January 29, 2023
- Josh Johnson, the 49ers’ fourth-string QB, entered the game with Purdy suffering a right elbow injury on Reddick’s forced fumble. Reddick was left unblocked to put a huge hit on Johnson to bring up 3rd-and-15. Might wanna block that guy! Then a delay of game penalty set the 49ers back to 3rd-and-20. The 49ers picked up 16 yards on a coward’s draw and then punted.
- The Eagles got set back to their own 15-yard line after an unnecessary roughness penalty on Josh Jobe on punt return coverage with DeVonta Smith, not Britain Covey, lined up as the punt returner. The Eagles picked up one first down before then getting to 3rd-and-10 after the 49ers sniffed out a designed QB run. After the Eagles called a timeout, Hurts’ third down pass to an open Brown deep down the field was ... well overthrown. Second week in a row that Hurts left a likely TD throw to Brown on the field. Can’t waste those opportunities.
- The Eagles were trying to argue that Kern’s punt, which only went 34 yards (yuck), hit the FOX broadcast camera wire. The refs said they couldn’t confirm that that was the case, so, no retry. Also, an illegal use of hands penalty on Zech McPhearson essentially made it a 24-yard punt. Some real bad special teams penalties.
"We cannot confirm whether the ball hit the wire or not" said the person in charge of adjudicating the billion-dollar enterprise.— Bo Wulf (@Bo_Wulf) January 29, 2023
- The 49ers took over at midfield. The 49ers got knocked back with a second delay of game penalty. Then knocked back again with Javon Hargrave sacking Johnson. Then Hargrave nearly picked Johnson but had to settle for the credited deflection instead. On 3rd-and-20, Johnson was nearly sacked again with the Eagles’ pass rush absolutely destroying the 49ers’ offensive line. Instead, it was an incompletion to force another punt.
- The Eagles started at their own 6-yard line. Hurts nearly got tackled for loss for a safety on a play where Bosa was left unblocked and a pulling Jack Stoll ... jumped out of the way instead of blocking him? Ugly. On third down, Hurts overthrew Brown to bring up a punt.
Incredible play be the option by Bosa. Turns his shoulders in which triggers Hurts to keep and then redirects outside and beats the TE pic.twitter.com/OgIxHVvtIG— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) January 29, 2023
- The 49ers took over with good field position at the Eagles’ 46-yard line. Purdy was getting some throws in along the sideline but Johnson remained in at quarterback. The 49ers got to 2nd-and-10 at the 23-yard line ... and Christian McCaffrey broke eleventy billion tackles (read: actually from Marcus Epps, Darius Slay, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Javon Hargrave) for a touchdown run. Wow. Credit to CMC for a great effort ... but also a terrible time for the Eagles’ early season poor tackling to come back. Tie game after squandered opportunities for the Birds to break it open early on. EAGLES 7, 49ERS 7.
- The Eagles got to 4th-and-1 from their own 35-yard line and Sirianni decided to go with the sneak. Correctly ballsy ... and it worked. Right as I was about to tweet that the Eagles hadn’t targeted DeVonta Smith since his 4th down catch on the opening drive, Hurts took a deep shot to him ... that the receiver couldn’t come down with against tight coverage. Welp. On third down, Hurts nearly threw a pick over the middle ... but it would have been wiped out anyway with a defensive pass interference penalty. It looked like the Eagles were going to get hit with a holding penalty ... but it ended up being illegal hands to the face on Landon Dickerson to turn what would’ve been 3rd-and-12 into a first down. Then Isaac Seumalo had a false start to put the offense behind schedule. A nice, short Gainwell catch-and-run set up 3rd-and-2. On third down, Gainwell carried for a first down. Then Gainwell again for another first down, this time on a 17-yard gain. A totally different player than he what we saw in the regular season. Corey Clement redux?! A defensive holding penalty (lot of calls in the Eagles’ favor here, huh) drawn by Dallas Goedert getting held by Jimmie Ward put the Eagles at 1st-and-10 from the opposition’s 18-yard line. A Sanders run where he kinda outran his blocking went for five yards. Back to Sanders for a 13-yard run into the end zone! 14-play, 75-yard drive that took 6:53 off the clock. Who said the 49ers can’t be run on? EAGLES 14, 49ERS 7.
Miles Sanders is the third player in @Eagles history to have multiple rushing TDs in a playoff game, joining Brian Westbrook (1/13/07 at New Orleans) and Wilbert Montgomery (twice, 1/3/81 vs. Minnesota and 12/27/81 vs. N.Y. Giants). #FlyEaglesFly— John Gonoude (@john_gonoude) January 29, 2023
- The 49ers took over at their own 25-yard line with 1:36 left in the second quarter. A mishandled snap by Johnson resulted in a Reddick recovery! Lol, wow.
Haason Reddick is defensive player of the year, idc what your votes say pic.twitter.com/1sYiOPTHOT— Shane Haff (@HAFFnHAFF_TPL) January 29, 2023
After recovering the fumbled snap by Josh Johnson that set the @Eagles up at the SF 30 with 1:11 left in the second quarter, Haason Reddick now has 3.5 sacks, 1 FF and 1 FR in two playoff games. #FlyEaglesFly— John Gonoude (@john_gonoude) January 29, 2023
- The Eagles took over at the opposition’s 30-yard line. They got to 1st-and-goal from the 10-yard line with a facemask penalty drawn by Boston Scott. Then Scott took his next carry for a 10-yard touchdown run! And just like that it was a two-score game. The Eagles initially lined up to go for two points ... but then called a timeout and just kicked the extra point. Odd. But the right call. No need to invite more variance with the 49ers on their fourth-string QB. EAGLES 21, 49ERS 7.
The @Eagles have tied a franchise postseason record with 3 rushing TDs (2 by Miles Sanders, 1 by Boston Scott), having previously accomplished the feat on 1/3/81 vs. Minnesota and 1/21/23 vs. N.Y. Giants. #FlyEaglesFly— John Gonoude (@john_gonoude) January 29, 2023
The @Eagles are just the fourth @NFL team since the 1970 merger to register 3+ rushing TDs in back-to-back games in a single postseason, joining the 2018 Patriots, 2012 49ers and 1973 Dolphins. #FlyEaglesFly— John Gonoude (@john_gonoude) January 29, 2023
- The 49ers took over with 10 seconds left in the second quarter. Nothing cooking.
- Josh Johnson remained in the game to start the second half. The 49ers got to 3rd-and-13 after McCaffrey was tackled for a loss. On third down, Johnson was able to find a wide open George Kittle along the left sideline. Why such a soft spot in coverage there? The 49ers got hit with their THIRD delay of game penalty to put the 49ers behind schedule. Johnson got hurt after getting hit by Ndamukong Suh to put an injured Purdy back into the game to face 3rd-and-14. The 49ers lined McCaffrey up at QB and had him run to bring up a punt.
- The Eagles took over at their own 17-yard line. Brown dropped a slant to bring up 3rd-and-7. On third down, Hurts’ deep shot to Brown was out of bounds and incomplete. Hurts’ deep ball accuracy is ... hurting.
- Purdy re-entered the game. The 49ers got to 3rd-and-13 and Kyzir White made a nice tackle on CMC to force another punt.
- The Eagles slowly but surely moved to midfield with a Gainwell catch-and-run on a 3rd-and-5 mixed in there. A deflected target to Zach Pascal brought up 3rd-and-6. On third down, Chavarius Ward had a nice pass breakup on a deep shot intended for Quez Watkins. The Eagles brought Kern in to punt and it was almost blocked ... but instead the 49ers got called for roughing the kicker for 15 yards (as opposed to running into the kicker for 5 yards). Huge penalty that put the Birds are the opponent’s 35-yard line. Hurts took off running into an area vacated by a blitzing Talanoa Hufanga for 12 yards. He can be pretty dangerous when he’s decisive. Hurts took off running for another first and got hit way late out of bounds by Talanoa Hufanga to put the Birds at the 3-yard line. Scott run got to the 1-yard line. Then a Hurts sneak was stopped. Then another Hurts sneak got it into the end zone! Huge 15-play, 91-yard drive to make it a three-score game while taking 7:50 off the clock. EAGLES 28, 49ERS 7.
The Eagles are the first team to have four rushing touchdowns against the 49ers all season.— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) January 29, 2023
The Eagles have now rush for 39 TD this season, the most in NFL history by any team including the playoffs.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 29, 2023
Jalen Hurts has now run for 15 TD this season, the most by any QB in NFL history in any season including the playoffs.
- The 49ers turned the ball over on downs after driving 28 yards to their own 47-yard line. Just nothing cooking with an inability to throw the ball.
- Dre Greenlaw got flagged for trying to punch the ball out well after the play was whistled dead to turn a third down stop into another Eagles first down. An unraveled 49ers team. The Eagles kept running Gainwell to bleed clock and settled for a Jake Elliott 31-yard field goal. EAGLES 31, 49ERS 7.
- A scuffle broke out that resulted in both Trent Williams (giant baby) and K’Von Wallace both being ejected. Reed Blankenship stripped Deebo Samuel and recovered for another takeaway!
- Gardner Minshew and the backups entered the game with just over four minutes to play. The Eagles go to 4th-and-2 at the two-minute warning ... and converted it for a first down. The 49ers did not utilize their remaining three timeouts. The Eagles went with victory formation to close it out! (Should’ve rubbed it in by throwing it for 38 to 7! Oh well.)
FINAL SCORE: EAGLES WIN, 31 to 7
- DeVonta Smith, not Britan Covey, was back as the Eagles’ punt returner on the 49ers’ first punt. Covey was back for the 49ers’ second punt and thereafter.
- Fletcher Cox slowly walked to the locker room late in the first quarter. He returned early in the second quarter.
- Landon Dickerson got banged up earlyish in the fourth quarter. He slowly walked off the field and Andre Dillard replaced him at left guard.