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49ers walk into Philadelphia and demolish Eagles, strengthening claim as NFL's best team

PHILADELPHIA — A feisty ejection, a quarterback scare and a tale of two first-half quarters characterized the drama of the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles’ rematch 10 months after they faced off on the same field for the NFC championship game.

Unlike the last contest, both teams finished with their starting quarterbacks intact. Also unlike last time, the 49ers won handily, 42-19.

Because this season, when versatile weapon Deebo Samuel is healthy, San Francisco has not lost. Samuel demonstrated his immense value with 138 yards and three touchdowns on just seven touches Sunday.

The 49ers rebounded from an ineffective start.

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - DECEMBER 03: Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after a touchdown with Charlie Woerner #89 and Aaron Banks #65 during the fourth quarter in the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 03, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

In the first quarter, Brock Purdy didn’t complete a pass (he attempted four). Christian McCaffrey didn’t rush for a yard. The team did not score a point or even pick up a first down. The Niners' net yardage from the period: a loss of 6.

The Eagles moved easily in comparison even if they still felt short of their own standard. While they tracked 124 yards and scored six points, they failed twice to convert TDs in the red zone, San Francisco cornerback Chavarius Ward wrecking one trip with a pass breakup in the end zone (his second on that drive). Slants to A.J. Brown and short- to mid-yard completions to DeVonta Smith could take Philadelphia only so far on a rainy day, especially once the 49ers found their footing.

The 49ers settled in and never looked back.

They dominated the second quarter even more than Philadelphia had dominated the first. Once San Francisco found its groove, the Purdy-led offense not only marched down the field but also kept going in the end zone on a seven-minute drive. Purdy spread the ball around to Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and McCaffrey before Aiyuk ultimately laid out to snag a 2-yard touchdown across the back left quadrant of the end zone.

Eagles fans momentarily cheered when replay appeared to call into question whether Aiyuk had secured the catch. But ultimately, officials determined there wasn’t enough evidence of ball movement to overturn the score.

San Francisco’s well-rested defense forced the Eagles to punt before they could flip the field, the Niners maintaining possession until less than a minute remained in the half. Kittle exploded for 25 yards upfield aided by well-placed blocks from his pass-catchers, McCaffrey further began to wear on Philly’s defensive line, and Purdy even moved the chains with a Brotherly Shove-style keeper that might as well have trolled the Eagles in their own backyard.

McCaffrey scored, untackled, to cap off the drive and send the Eagles into halftime down 14-6 and surrounded by booing fans on a hazy evening.

Then, with a couple of extracurricular notes, the Samuel game began. He scored touchdowns on three second-half drives.

There was the 12-yard end around right in the third quarter, a play after Purdy had hit McCaffrey on a wheel route to the left for 33 yards. Samuel’s second touchdown tracked 48 yards (and 42 after the catch) after he broke a tackle by Eagles safety Kevin Byard and barreled straight upfield. His last one further emphasized the effectiveness of the Kyle Shanahan blocking schemes and also perhaps backed up his offseason banter that he thinks Eagles cornerback James Bradberry is “trash.”

Between Samuel touchdowns, 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw and Eagles head of security Dom DiSandro were ejected for a tussle in which DiSandro physically tried to prevent Greenlaw from initiating contact with his player and instead had his own face brushed by a Greenlaw punch attempt.

Jalen Hurts left toward the end of the third quarter for evaluation “pursuant to the concussion protocol,” a press box announcer said, but returned midway through the first drive of the fourth quarter to relieve backup Marcus Mariota after a “Brotherly Shove” and to hit Smith on a 6-yard touchdown.

Ultimately, it wasn’t enough.

The 49ers’ lead had ballooned too far and would continue to.

Purdy finished the game 19-of-27 for 314 yards and four touchdowns while Hurts completed 26 of 45 for 298 yards and a touchdown in addition to 20 yards and a score rushing.

The 10-2 Eagles visit the 9-3 Dallas Cowboys next week on “Sunday Night Football.” The 9-3 Niners next host the Seattle Seahawks.