49ers vs. Eagles: Niner Noise goes behind enemy lines with Inside the Iggles
By Peter Panacy
The 49ers visit the Eagles in the NFC Championship game on Sunday, and Niner Noise chats with our FanSided sister site, Inside the Eagles, about the matchup.
Sunday will mark only the second time in NFL history that the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles have met in the postseason.
The Niners won a Wild Card bout against Philly back in 1996, and the two teams have only squared off against each other during the regular season before and since.
Until the 2023 NFC Championship game to be played this Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
The top-seeded Eagles are looking to take their 14-3 regular-season record into the Super Bowl, and the play of MVP-candidate quarterback Jalen Hurts has been exemplary this season, while Philly’s 70-sack defense will make life difficult on rookie quarterback Brock Purdy.
However, despite all the challenges, Purdy and the 49ers seem to find ways to win each and every week, including victories over the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Will the Niners continue that streak? Or will the NFC Championship game mark San Francisco’s exit from the playoffs for a second year in a row?
To get a better idea about what the 49ers are facing in a tough Philadelphia squad, Niner Noise joined up with FanSided’s site on all things Eagles, Inside the Iggles, and their associate editor, Geoffrey Knox.
Check out what Knox had to say about this penultimate matchup.
49ers vs. Eagles NFC Championship: Niner Noise Q&A with Inside the Iggles
NN: Building around Jalen Hurts was the right move for the Eagles by far. At what point was it clear to you that he was the guy?
"ITI: Honestly, I knew Jalen Hurts had the right mindset after I saw him at Oklahoma when he was back in the weight room throwing a heavy ball around AFTER tossing for 485 yards and four TDs versus Texas Tech.It was apparent early in 2020 that most of the team wanted him on the field rather than Carson Wentz. I agreed. I was one of the people who got off of Carson Wentz’s ‘wagon’ early.I thought Wentz was a “me-first guy” and didn’t have the mental toughness to play in a city like Philly. I didn’t think he was coachable. I didn’t see him as a great teammate. I saw ALL of those things in Hurts.I won’t say any names, but there are many NFL signal-callers who need to mature. That isn’t an issue with Jalen. I like my QBs to be dedicated, mature, and hard-working. He checked those boxes. I knew, if given time to develop, Jalen Hurts would be fine.I had concerns, as everyone else did, but he’s proven himself. I’m proud of him. I think he’ll be great for a long time."
NN: Teams that win the offseason don’t always win once the regular season rolls around. Yet the Eagles appear to be one of those exceptions after an exceptional offseason. What was the trigger move that turned Philadelphia into a legitimate Super Bowl contender?
"ITI: I don’t know if I can trim it to one (haha). I’ll give you a few. Clearly trading for A.J. Brown was a game-changer. That gave Philly what I believe to be the best wide-receiver tandem in pro football.Yes, I’m aware of what the Dolphins have with their Tyreek Hill/Jaylen Waddle combo. I know that the Bengals have an elite duo with Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, but I believe A.J. and DeVonta can be the most special duo league-wide.On defense, adding James Bradberry and C.J. Gardner Johnson were both home runs. Typically, we’ve needed “another corner” and a safety. James and C.J. have really stabilized the secondary for us.Many of the guys who are already here have taken steps forward, but in terms of those guys, they have become leaders in the locker room quickly."
NN: Who are the biggest unsung heroes for the Eagles this season?
"ITI: Linebacker T.J. Edwards doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He’s a monster. More often than not, if he doesn’t lead the team in tackles, he finishes somewhere in the top three.His speed is often questioned, but he looks fast to me. He’s a sure tackler and good in coverage. I’ve been impressed with rookie safety Reed Blankenship as well. He’s filled in admirably when needed.On offense, there are a couple of guys that deserve shout-outs. Zach Pascal and Jack Stoll get a lot of snaps. They don’t see tons of targets, but they do a lot of the little things that go unnoticed.This team is full of characters that have character. Those are three that deserve mention. Philly isn’t winning all of these games without him."
NN: If you were the Niners, how would you go about game-planning against Philadelphia on both offense and defense?
"ITI: The key to beating the Eagles lies in ball control. It sounds like a simple concept, but it works.In the games that Philadelphia has lost, they’ve been on the wrong end of the time of possession spectrum. If teams are patient enough to employ the theory, they often find success.The Washington Commanders, Dallas Cowboys, and New Orleans Saints were all able to string together long drives that kept Jalen Hurts and company off of the field. If the Niners can do that, and end those long drives with six points, this game will be much closer than Birds fans want it to be at the end."
NN: Let’s hear your predictions for the game. Who wins and why (with the score), and who will be the game’s MVP?
"ITI: When all is said and done, I believe the Eagles at their best are better than the 49ers if they’re also operating at peak performance. Kyle Shanahan versus Jonathan Gannon scares me, but in the end, I believe Philly will make more plays than the Niners on offense and generate a few more defensive stops and, maybe, a turnover or two.I hate to break the news to you, my friend, but Brock Purdy’s stagecoach turns into a pumpkin this week. Philly wins this one in a slugfest that tests all of the emotions and raises the stress level some.Final score: Eagles 31, 49ers 24"
Read More: 49ers vs. Eagles: Date, time and how to watch NFC Championship game
Naturally, we home Inside the Iggles’ prediction for the game is wrong. But, if there’s one thing for certain, it’s the fact both teams are closely matched. San Francisco and Philadelphia both have offenses and defenses in the top 10, while there are an array of playmakers on both sides of the ball, too.
Either way, the fun back-and-forth aside, be sure to check out Inside the Iggles’ work and follow them on Twitter, too — @InsideIggles.
You can also follow Geoffrey Knox — @GQ_4_Eva.
The Niners and Eagles kick off the NFC Championship game on Sunday, Jan. 29 at 3 p.m. ET.