49ers vs. Eagles NFC Championship Game preview, matchups, series history

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Eagles-49ers NFC Championship Game matchups, series history originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The last time the Eagles and 49ers met in the playoffs, it didn’t go so well for Philadelphia.

Ty Detmer was benched for Mark Rypien, Ricky Watters averaged less than 3.0 yards per rushing attempt against his former team, Jerry Rice caught a touchdown pass from Steve Young, and the 49ers blanked the Eagles 14-0 in a rainy 1996 wild-card game at Candlestick Park.

It’s the only time in franchise history the Eagles have been shut out in a postseason game.

The Eagles and 49ers, the top two seeds in this year's NFC playoff bracket, will meet again Sunday afternoon in the NFC Championship Game. Kickoff is scheduled for noon PT at Lincoln Financial Field, and the Eagles are two-point favorites.

The winner will advance to Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., against the winner of next weekend’s Bengals-Chiefs AFC Championship Game.

The Eagles were ranked No. 2 in defense and No. 3 in offense, and the 49ers were No. 1 in defense and No. 5 in offense. They were the only NFL teams ranked in the top five in both categories this season.

The Eagles earned a spot in the NFC Championship Game with a 38-7 win over the Giants on Saturday. The 49ers beat the Cowboys 19-12 on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara to advance.

The 49ers, who haven’t lost a game in more than three months, are led by Brock Purdy, their 23-year-old rookie quarterback who's 7-0 since replacing injured Jimmy Garoppolo, who had replaced Trey Lance. Purdy has thrown 13 touchdown passes and four interceptions this season.

At 23 years and 33 days next Sunday, Purdy will become the third-youngest quarterback ever to start an AFC or NFC Championship Game. Shaun King was 22 and 239 when the Bucs lost to the Rams in the 1999 NFC Championship Game, and Ben Roethlisberger was 22 and 327 when the Steelers lost to the Patriots in the 2004 AFC Championship Game.

The 49ers have played in 17 NFC Championship Games, the most of any team. They’ve won seven, most recently in 2019. They’re 2-5 in road NFC title games.

The Eagles are 3-4 in NFC Championship Games, beating the Cowboys at home in 1980; losing to the Rams in St. Louis and then the Buccaneers and Panthers at home in 2001, 2002 and 2003; beating the Falcons in 2004; losing to the Cards in Arizona in 2008, and beating the Vikings at the Linc in 2017.

The Eagles are 14-20-1 all time against the 49ers and 5-11-1 in Philly, but they’re 10-7 since 1994. The most recent meeting was early last year at the Linc, with the 49ers winning 17-11 in the second game of Nick Sirianni’s coaching career.

The 49ers edged the Eagles by 15 yards for the No. 1 team defense ranking in the NFL. Their in-demand defensive coordinator, DeMeco Ryans, played linebacker for the Eagles from 2012 through 2015.

This season, the 49ers were 3-4 after early losses to the Bears, Broncos, Falcons and Chiefs. But they’ve won 12 consecutive games since that Oct. 23 loss to the Chiefs.

Purdy has been very good, but he does have a tremendous supporting cast.

Christian McCaffrey had 746 rushing yards and a 4.6 average, plus 52 catches for 464 yards and 10 touchdowns in 12 games after being traded from the Panthers to the 49ers; wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk went over 1,000 yards; tight end George Kittle had 765 yards and 11 touchdowns, and versatile Deebo Samuel netted 864 scrimmage yards and five TDs.

Defensively, the 49ers are led by NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate Nick Bosa, who led the NFL with 18.5 sacks; veteran safety Tashaun Gipson, who had five interceptions, and safety Talanoa Hufanga, who had four. Dre Greenlaw and Fred Warner are among the best linebacker tandems in the NFL.

This story was written by Reuben Frank and originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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