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December 03, 2023

Final observations: 49ers 42, Eagles 19

The 49ers dominated the Eagles on both sides of the ball in this NFC Championship Game rematch.

After complaining that the NFC Championship Game didn't count for the past 11 months, the 49ers came into South Philadelphia and punched the Eagles in the mouth in Week 13. San Francisco prevailed 42-19. Here are my final observations from a game Eagles fans will want to quickly flush from their memory. You can read my first half observations here as well.

Let's get after it...

The Highs 

• On the Birds' first drive of the half, two key third down passes went A.J. Brown's way with Hurts connecting on both. In a 21-6 hole, the Eagles desperately needed to get in the end zone for the first time. The Eagles advanced all the way to the goal line, and, naturally the "Tush Push" put them on the board. Even with that, the Eagles still didn't feed Brown enough in the passing game.

• They got their doors blown off in the second half. There will be no further sugar-coating. 

The Lows

• The Eagles were able to keep Christian McCaffrey, and the 49ers' run game overall, in check early, but on San Francisco's first drive of the second half, he showcased why he's the game's best back. McCaffrey ripped off a 33-yard run that was a back-breaker and put the 49ers in the red zone. On the ensuing play, Deebo Samuel took an end around 12 yards for a touchdown, giving San Francisco a double-digit lead. 

The 49ers' offense is cooking when it dominates in the ground game and puts Brock Purdy in manageable situations. San Francisco had just a single rush attempt, one that went for a four-yard loss, in the first quarter when the Birds were up 6-0. They finished with 51 yards in the first half. (4.6 yards per attempt) as they built their lead. They finished with 146 yards on the ground for the game as a hole, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. 

• The most brutal moment of the game for the Birds' defense was Samuel's 48-yard touchdown catch, as he dusted the entire D on the way to the end zone:

Samuel is the best wideout in the NFL when it comes to breaking tackles. He had 92 yards from scrimmage, plus three total TDs. He destroyed this secondary and Sean Desai's plan of attack. The pass rush wasn't wear it needed to be, certainly, but the back seven was a disaster. 

Hall of Fame safety Brian Dawkins wasn't a fan of the performance:

I can't say that I blame him!

• With under three minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Eagles faced a fourth and two at their own 33. They were down 15 points while Kyle Shanhan's offense was going Super Saiyan mode against this defense. They punted. That was the game. This was too conservative of a game from Nick Sirianni. In my first half observations, I wrote that kicking in the red zone twice bit them in the ass. Then comes this. You have the sport's most unstoppable play. Unleash it. The 49ers trotted downfield when they got the ball back, took a 22-point lead and the game was promptly over.

• Hurts left the game in the fourth quarter, as he was evaluated for a concussion. He returned soon after, re-entering the game with under nine minutes remaining and the Eagles down three touchdowns. I get that Hurts is a gamer, but I truly don't like that move. Shortsighted. 

The Whoas

• Bad blood in South Philly: San Francisco's Dre Greenlaw got into it, of all people, Eagles chief security officer Dom DiSandro:

He's a guy I would not want to get into a fight with. Fans in attendance roared when the referees announced that Greenlaw got tossed. DiSandro later was too and he got a resounding applause as he walked off the field and into the tunnel.

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