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- READ: Shanahan explains decision not to challenge Smith catch
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- Despite struggles, Eagles find a way to win. Philadelphia held true to form from its first possession Sunday, compiling an 11-play, 66-yard drive that included a long, fourth-down completion to DeVonta Smith that replay revealed might have not been a catch. Luckily for Philadelphia, Smith and the Eagles' offense hurried to the line and snapped the ball before 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan could challenge the catch, and two plays later, Miles Sanders was in the end zone with a 6-yard touchdown run. That was essentially the high note for Philadelphia's offense, which finished with just 269 yards of total offense and averaged fewer than four yards per play. The Eagles pieced together one longer scoring drive -- a 14-play, 75-yard march ending in another Sanders touchdown run -- but this was the only scoring drive in which the Eagles put points on the board without the help of defensive penalties. It wasn't a pretty game, but that doesn't matter. The Eagles are headed back to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2017 season thanks to a blowout win that came in unconventional, slightly unimpressive fashion, but they all count the same.
- Injuries, errors end 49ers' run. San Francisco's hopes of returning to the Super Bowl met a number of roadblocks Sunday, starting with the third play from scrimmage in which Fred Warner suffered an injury. He would quickly return, but his brief exit set the tone for what would prove to be a nightmarish day for the 49ers. Brock Purdy suffered an elbow injury when he was hit and fumbled, forcing veteran backup Josh Johnson into the game. Johnson later left due to a head injury, meaning the 49ers had no choice but to proceed with a quarterback who wasn't physically capable of throwing the ball more than a few yards forward. Facing a 21-7 deficit on the road against a ferocious Eagles defense, the 49ers were at best handcuffed for the rest of the game, if not outright doomed. Shanahan had no choice but to pound the run to little positive effect, and it was obvious San Francisco wasn't going to make it a close game before time expired. Watching the 49ers -- a team that prided itself on defense and enjoyed surprise success from Purdy on their way to an appearance in Sunday's game -- exit without so much as a whimper was disappointing, to say the least.
- San Francisco's defense can only carry so much of the load. The 49ers gave up less than 275 total yards of offense Sunday, and held the Eagles to 33% on third down, yet they lost in blowout fashion. How? Well, a complete lack of an offensive threat on all but one possession won't help, neither will a turnover in your own territory just before the half. San Francisco's top-ranked defense knew it was facing quite a challenge entering Sunday, and by halftime, it became clear its task might be impossible to complete, short of a couple of defensive touchdowns. The Eagles avoided committing the turnovers that doomed the Cowboys against the Niners in the Divisional Round while trusting their run game and excellent offensive line to build a lead, and by the time the fourth quarter arrived, the outcome was decided. DeMeco Ryans did a great job as defensive coordinator in 2022 and will likely land a head coaching job as soon as this week. His unit deserved a better fate.
- Niners' lack of discipline leads to embarrassing exit. The 49ers will look back at both Shanahan's decision to keep his red challenge flag in his pocket and the scores of yellow flags that flew against them Sunday as primary reasons for their defeat. What the 49ers and their fans should also admit -- perhaps through gritted teeth -- is that they simply didn't play well enough to win. The 11 penalties bought the Eagles countless second chances, upon which they largely capitalized, but San Francisco wasn't disciplined enough to stop the Eagles, even if the numbers don't reflect it. Dre Greenlaw's attempt to take a back-door route around Jason Kelce toward the runner gave Sanders an alley to sprint through for a touchdown. Nick Bosa's decision to try to shoot an inside gap on an outside zone run gave up contain, leaving Boston Scott with plenty of room to run around the edge for another touchdown. And then, the mental mistakes piled up. Greenlaw's facemask on Scott moved the Eagles from the edge of the red zone to San Francisco's 10, and, on the next play, Scott scored. A roughing the kicker on Jordan Mason extended a Philadelphia drive that received another gift when Talanoa Hufanga shoved an already out-of-bounds Hurts, moving the Eagles to San Francisco's 3-yard line, where they pounded the run up the middle for another touchdown. Greenlaw's trio of punches on a stood-up Kenneth Gainwell wiped out a third-down stop and gave Philadelphia a fresh set of downs. Four plays later, Jake Elliott converted a 31-yard field goal. It all ended with a body slam fit for Saturday night's Royal Rumble, not an NFL field, when Trent Williams grew tired of a post-play scuffle and threw K'Von Wallace to the ground by his neck, leading to ejections for both players. San Francisco was better than this for all of the 2022 season. It's a shame it went out in such fashion.
- Eagles' sprint to the Super Bowl is complete. Thanks to its hot start, Philadelphia has been a favorite to win the NFC for months. A bit of worry crept into the picture when Hurts suffered a shoulder injury and missed two games, each ending in losses and opening the door for Dallas to make a late push for the division title. Hurts returned in time to secure the NFC East crown and get the Eagles back on track, and even with Sunday's offensive difficulties, they really haven't missed a beat. Philadelphia's defense is peaking at the perfect time, and the Eagles' ground game has been their saving grace in the last two weeks. Sunday was a sweet sendoff for the Eagles, who will wave goodbye to their passionate fans in Philadelphia before heading to Arizona a Super Bowl LVII matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, with the hopes of capping a run most everyone saw coming since October.
Next Gen stat of the game: Philadelphia finished with a QB pressure rate of 61.9%, the highest in an Eagles game in the Next Gen Stats era (dating back to 2016).
NFL Research: San Francisco committed three turnovers in Sunday's loss, finishing the 2022 season with a 15-0 record in games in which it won or tied in turnover differential, and an 0-5 mark when it finished on the losing side.