PHILADELPHIA − The Eagles have several veterans who will be playing in their first NFC Championship game.
There are cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry, not to mention defensive end Robert Quinn, who will play in only his fourth playoff game in 12 seasons.
None of them are taking this lightly. That’s why the Eagles won’t overlook their opponent, the San Francisco 49ers when the two teams meet this Sunday at 3 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field. The winner goes to the Super Bowl.
The Eagles reached the championship game, their eighth in team history, with a 38-7 win over the New York Giants in an NFC Divisional Round on Saturday night. The 49ers, the No. 2 seed, beat the Dallas Cowboys 19-12 on Sunday night in the other division playoff.
The 49ers are in their third NFC title game in the last four seasons. They lost last season to the Rams. The Eagles haven’t been to the NFC Championship game since the 2017 season.
“It’s great, man,” said Slay, who’s in his 10th season. “I’m just chilling, man. I ain’t never been here before. I don’t know this feeling, so I’m feeling damn good. I’m feeling like I’m going to go home, put my feet up. I got my family in town. Gonna turn up a little bit. I’m gonna blast my doggone music. I’m going to let my neighbors know it’s going down (Saturday night).”
On Sunday, the Eagles and coaches no doubt began preparing for their opponent.
The Eagles don’t have much familiarity with the 49ers. They played San Francisco in Week 2 last season, losing 17-11. But that was Nick Sirianni’s second game as a head coach with the Eagles, and Jalen Hurts’ second game as a full-time starter.
It didn’t go well for either as the 49ers built a 17-3 lead before the Eagles scored late.
The 49ers are in the NFC title game with third-string quarterback Brock Purdy, who’s replacing rookie Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, both of whom suffered major injuries.
The Eagles have played 34 games under Sirianni since then, including playoffs. They won’t be the same team.
“The only next goal is whoever we play next and wanting to win that game and then go from there,” Sirianni said. “So our focus won’t change. Our focus is, hey, we’re climbing this mountain. We’re close. We’re close to the top. Don’t look at the top yet though. Look at the steps that you have to make this week. That’s been the message the entire year.”
3 things to know about 49ers
- Who is Brock Purdy? Purdy is the 49ers third-string quarterback, taking over after both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo were injured. Purdy has not lost a game as a starter, going 5-0 in the regular season and 2-0 in the postseason. The 23-year-old rookie was the 262nd and last pick in the NFL draft last spring out of Iowa State. But he is hardly Mr. Irrelevant. There are reports that Purdy will be named the 49ers starter in 2023 over Lance, who was picked No. 3 overall and 259 spots ahead of Purdy.
- DeMeco’s defense: Eagles fans should be very familiar with 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, who was a star linebacker for the Eagles from 2012-15. Former Eagles coach Chip Kelly used to call Ryans “Mufasa” for his leadership ability. Ryans is running the NFL’s top-ranked defense in the NFL, and he is a strong candidate for a head coaching job.
- Top skill players: The 49ers have similar type of offensive weapons as the Eagles with two top wide receivers in Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, a star tight end in George Kittle, and a balanced running attack led by Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey, acquired midseason in a trade with Carolina, had 1,880 yards from scrimmage during the regular season.
Contact Martin Frank at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.