Thu, 30 Mar 2023

49ers Fall Short in NFC Championship Game; 5 Takeaways from #SFvsPHI

San Francisco 49ers
30 Jan 2023, 22:44 GMT+10

Lindsey Pallares

The San Francisco 49ers 2022 campaign came to end in the NFC Championship Game at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles. The team battled through significant injuries to quarterbacks Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson, but ultimately, fell short 31-7 in the conference title game. This was the team's third appearance in the NFC Championship Game in the last four years.

"The thing about the NFL is that you never have the same group, you might have the key guys, but it's just sad when you go through all this, and this exact group doesn't get another day together," defensive lineman Nick Bosa said. "That's what makes it hurt."

Linebacker Fred Warner shared similar sentiments in his postgame address.

"It was tough. Guys are obviously emotional," Warner said. "I've been here before when you lose in the biggest moment, and it's a hard pill to swallow. You want to talk about how we will be back here next year, but more than anything, it's guys reflecting and being with one another today. Every team is different every year, so you have to enjoy this group while we have it."

Johnson Takes Over, Suffers Injury

For the first time since Week 14 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco's backup quarterback was tasked with leading San Francisco's offense. Johnson took over at quarterback with just under five minutes left in the first frame and played the rest of the half. He reentered in the third quarter under center but took a hard hit on an incompletion that forced his exit from Sunday's contest. He was taken to the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion before being ruled out of the game entirely. He closed out the game connecting on seven-of-13 pass attempts for 70 yards.

Purdy Suffers Elbow Injury

The 49ers starting quarterback suffered an elbow injury after being sacked on the final play of San Francisco's first offensive series. Purdy was hit during a pass attempt that resulted in a fumble, and the rookie did not return for the rest of the first half. He was initially listed as questionable to return but reentered the game after Johnson was injured. Purdy finished that day completing four-of-four passes for 23 yards and a 90.6 passer rating.

"It just hurts. I'm just so sad for the older guys, Fred Warner, Trent Williams, George Kittle, Arik Armstead - everyone, all the guys that have been through this, " Purdy said. "They went to the Super Bowl in 2019 and last year in the NFC Championship, and then for this to happen, in the first drive. It's like 'Man, this is the kind of game we have to play.' I'm just frustrated, but more sad for those guys than anything. They deserve to go, to win and to win the whole thing."

Sunday was the quarterback's ninth appearance for the 49ers and his eighth start since taking over for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins.

"He doesn't have anything to be sad about. He's the reason we even got to this game," Warner said in response to Purdy's outpouring of support of his teammates. "When Jimmy Garoppolo went down against the Dolphins, we didn't know what our season was going to be. He came in and did a heck of a job. He's the reason we're here right now, and like I said, it's unfortunate what happened, him getting hurt and Josh getting hurt. We just couldn't do enough to find a way to win."

Run CMC, Again

The 49ers do-it-all back put San Francisco on the board in the second quarter with a 23-yard touchdown run. Christian McCaffrey barreled his way into the end zone to tie the game up at 7-7 with 8:29 left in the first half. He was the game's leading rusher gaining 84 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown. Through the air, he had four catches for 22 yards.

Battle in the Trenches

Sunday's contest was a battle in the trenches, and the 49ers defensive line stood tall against Philadelphia. Arik Armstead got home during the Eagles opening drive, sacking Philly quarterback Jalen Hurts on second-and-eight. Early in the second quarter Nick Bosa took down Hurts on second-and-11 and helped force an Eagles three-and-out. He was one of three defensive players (Dre Greenlaw and T.Y. McGill were the others) to record two tackles-for-loss in Sunday's game. Later in the second quarter, Kerry Hyder Jr. also produced a sack, however, it was nullified by a penalty on the same play.

Turnover Battle Makes the Difference

Turnovers swung the game in the favor of the Eagles with San Francisco losing possession of the ball three times in addition to turning it over on downs in the second half. The Eagles were able to capitalize on a couple of those errors, scoring a touchdown and a field goal on the ensuing drives of two of those possession losses. Philadelphia did not turn the ball over in Sunday's contest.

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