NFL – Eagles and 49ers battle for Super Bowl spot

Meltdowns in the aftermath of big games have left scars in San Francisco.

Just remember the Super Bowl against Kansas City after the 2019 season. The 49ers became just the third team in big game history to blow a 10-point lead in the second half and fell to the Chiefs.

And in the most recent NFC final, San Francisco led 17-7 but ended up going down, due to a fumbled interception, a series of conservative fourth-down decisions and a walk to opponents on the final drive.

The winners were the Los Angeles Rams. San Francisco squandered another championship opportunity, in a way that’s hard to forget.

“If we go back to last year, we’re a couple of plays away from going back to the Super Bowl,” receiver Deebo Samuel said. “What will really get us there? We have to keep errors to a minimum, and everyone has to fulfill their tasks.”

Almost perfectly.

That’s a tough task for any team, especially one headed to Philadelphia, where cold weather, an MVP finalist candidate, and the team that led the NFC await. There will be a lot of noise in the maddened Lincoln Financial Field.

The 49ers call themselves ready. They have won 12 straight games, including seven since rookie Brock Purdy, a seventh-round draft pick, took over at quarterback amid Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury.

Second-seeded San Francisco has been on the brink of a sixth Super Bowl title in years. His appearance in the National final scheduled for this Sunday will be his third in four seasons.

Philadelphia was not favored to reach this stage before the season. But a series of courageous transactions — notably the acquisitions of receiver AJ Brown, linebacker Haason Reddick, cornerback James Bradberry and safety CJ Gardner-Johnson — have turned the Eagles into a team for which the crown now seems the only outcome. acceptable.

Does anyone want perfection? The Eagles are close in quarterback Jalen Hurts’ starts, going 14-1 in the regular season and a playoff win last week over the New York Giants.

Hurts, a Pro Bowl selection, is playing through the aftermath of a sprained right shoulder that cost him two games. He is about to face his biggest test of the season, against the 49ers’ defense, the first in the ranking.

“It’s in his DNA to work here all the time,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “Whether it’s in the weight room, training room or video room, this guy is obsessed with getting better.”

Some doubted Hurts would be the franchise quarterback before spring training camp. He allayed any concerns after the first week with a win over Detroit and continued to put up big numbers and wins, to the point that he was a finalist for the Most Valuable Player award.

And now, the main hurdle to Hurts reaching the Super Bowl — the Eagles’ second in six seasons — is the player selected last in the draft.

Purdy has had a meteoric takeoff, from the moniker of “Mr. Irrelevant” until his status as an undefeated rookie who will play the conference final. But maybe it’s more than his game that has helped the 49ers.

The young man did not experience the collapse in the Super Bowl, nor the debacle against the Rams. Purdy only knows how to win.

“He has a natural ability to play this position, and it’s fun to coach him because when he makes mistakes, he can see them, he knows why and he understands it,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said.

The quarterback is one of the reasons bettors underwrite the 49ers by just 2 1/2 points, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.



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