The 49ers travel to Lincoln Financial Field for a highly anticipated NFC Championship fight against the Eagles. Kyle Shanahan prepares for a loaded Philadelphia Eagles team. We look at four keys below that will keep San Francisco Super Bowl hopes alive.
Keep calm, Brock
Chris Foerster’s offensive line allowed the sixth-least sacks of the regular season. Aaron Banks and Trent Williams play at an elite level with the occasional hiccup. But things get rockier from middle to right tackle. Jake Brendel, Spencer Burford and Mike McGlinchey typically play heads in pass sets, which explains why Brock Purdy fled the pocket early and often last week.
Purdy continued to roll to the left as he looked at the Eagles on Wednesday.
“Yeah. Honestly I hope I don’t have to crawl so it’s not on my mind but it’s part of the game. I just feel like the bag collapsed, that’s just one area where I feel like I’ve gone but it’s not something I am man I gotta stop going left or I gotta go more right it’s just part of the game it’s a natural Feeling I’m feeling right now, so it’s not something I practice or anything.”
Philadelphia’s historic defensive line has four guys with ten sacks or more; that doesn’t count for Fletcher Cox or Ndamukong Suh. Hassan Reddick and Josh Sweat are huge threats for both tackles with their athletic arcs. Both players can win with a series of pass rush moves, so let’s hope Purdy is calm and determined.
Shanahan takes over
The offensive line isn’t the only positional group Purdy needs to keep calm. Passers can calm Purdy’s nerves by running routes hard and avoiding drops. Philadelphia’s decorated runner-up will pray for a turnover after watching Purdy’s interceptable pass roll.
Shanahan and Nick Sirianni will demonstrate a range of run and pass concepts that will delight football nerds around the world.
Shanahan has a lot of run concepts, but running at them will wear down Philadelphia’s weak rush defense. Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell are both all-around running backs equipped to dish out damage on the ground.
And now that McCaffrey is off injury report, his 16-touch display against the Cowboys a week ago will seem modest.
Both backs can help finish the game by staying active for checkdowns to keep the chains moving. The game is in Shanahan’s hands. It’s big in big across the board, and San Francisco’s offense will shine if everyone does it in turn.
Stand upright against the pass
DeMeco Ryans’ secondary school had some hiccups against Dallas, but they executed when it mattered most. Deommodore Lenoir and Jimmie Ward forced turnovers and Ryans’ “swarm” mentality prevailed against the run.
Sirianni’s run pass options will emphasize each layer of defense. Jalen Hurts’ shallow average target depth means Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair can play there.
To bracket either AJ Brown or DeVonta Smith is the question. Slowing down is possible with either active hands or head movements to locate the ball. By silencing those two, the Ryans defense can show who really has the best pass defense in the league.
Includes Hurts’ Scrambles
The San Francisco fringe will be in hell with Sirianni’s RPOs, Hurts’ mobility and defending the multiple run concepts thrown at them. Hurts extends drives with his legs when the pass isn’t there, coupled with designed quarterback runs.
Taking down hurts when the secondary is doing his job will be a big job for the defensive line. Limiting explosive runs and tackling injuries in third place will be ways to stay afloat on defense.