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NFC Championship game 49ers vs Eagles: Position by Position, who has the edge

Publish Date: 01/27/2023
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

NFC Championship

The Eagles, and 49ers were the apparent class of the NFC for much of the 2022 NFL Season. Philadelphia’s 13-1 start was the big reason they are the number one seed. San Francisco now has 12 consecutive wins, with rookie quarterback Brock Purdy undefeated in his seven first starts as a replacement for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo.

These contenders will be facing off in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game. They have been part of the conference elite for quite some time. Philly will be in its seventh NFC championship title game since 2001. It has won more conference titles than any other team except the Patriots. The 49ers are playing in the NFC Championship Game for the third consecutive season.

Both teams are capable; we know that. Which side is better suited to make the next step? Below is a breakdown position-by-position of the areas where the 49ers and Eagles have the edge.


Eagles: Jalen Hurts

49ers: Brock Purdy

The incredible feats Purdy has accomplished off the San Francisco bench are unimaginable. The rookie has shown the fluid mobility and efficiency that the 49ers were looking for in Trey Lance. In just eight games, he’s made seven starts. However, Hurts has been at a different level. The third-year vet seems to be back at full strength following a shoulder injury. He is also unwaveringly composed. He’s become a reliable dual threat in the game. He has the vision and strength to run but also a vastly improved downfield passing technique. Amazingly, this comparison can be made. However, the more skilled, experienced athlete wins. Purdy seems more of a caretaker than an elite quarterback at this time, and at the same time, Jalen Hurts looks like an elite quarterback. The edge is clear here.

Advantage: Eagles

Video: Jalen Hurts Top Plays and Every TD From His 2022-23 Season

Jalen Hurts Top Plays and Every TD From His 2022-23 Season

Running Back

Eagles: Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell

49ers: Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell

Sanders, a fourth-year professional, has posted career-best numbers as Hurts’ running mate (1,269 yards and 11 TDs). McCaffrey, Mitchell and others are particularly susceptible to bumps and bruises. The two active players give Kyle Shanahan’s offense a formidable 1-2 punch. Mitchell and McCaffrey are both adept at finding holes in a run-first attack, and McCaffrey is a top safety valve catching the ball out of the backfield. With four different 80-catch seasons and 50+ receptions in only ten starts with the 49ers, McCaffrey is always open to dump-offs.

Advantage: 49ers

Video: Christian McCaffrey Best Highlights of The Season so Far 2022

Christian McCaffrey Best Highlights of The Season so Far 2022


Eagles: A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins

49ers: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings

This contest is tight and loaded with star power. Samuel is a difference-maker when the ball is in his hands. However, his impact comes more like a Swiss Army knife and not as a traditional downfield threat. Aiyuk is now a more vertical, straight-line option. The Eagles’ top two players are even better. Physically, Brown is the alpha. His speed and size makes him an attractive target for Hurts or draw attention away from Smith. His counterpart may be more determined with his game approach, winning with elite concentration, route-running, and body control in tight spaces.

Advantage: Eagles

Video: A.J. Brown is the Eagles' Dream and the Titans' NIGHTMARE!

A.J. Brown is the Eagles’ Dream and the Titans’ NIGHTMARE!


Eagles: Dallas Goedert

49ers: George Kittle

All-star talent is all around! While both Goedert & Kittle had to battle injuries when they are healthy, it’s easy to see why. Goedert is known for his speed and ability to run, stomp and stomp his way to extra yards for every catch. Kittle has the edge because of his ability to dominate a game with his straight-line speed.

Advantage: 49ers

Video: The Joy of George Fricken Kittle Highlights!!! 2022 #49ers National Tight End Year

The Joy of George Fricken Kittle Highlights!!! 2022 #49ers National Tight End Year

Offensive Line

Eagles: Jordan Mailata, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Landon Dickerson, Lane Johnson

49ers: Trent Williams, Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, Spencer Burford, Mike McGlinchey

The 49ers can match or even surpass the Eagles’ bookends. They have the advantage of Williams and McGlinchey protecting them off the edge. At 34, Williams is still a benchmark in blind-side blocking. The Eagles have more to offer than just top-end tackles in Mailata (who often wins because of his size and athleticism) and Johnson (who excels in running the game). Kelce, at 35, is a respected locker-room leader and excels at the second level as a lead blocking player. This may be the two best offensive lines in the NFL.

Advantage: Eagles

Video: Eagles' Offensive Line is DOMINATING: Film Breakdown

Eagles’ Offensive Line is DOMINATING: Film Breakdown

Defensive Tackle

Eagles: Javon Hargrave, Fletcher Cox, Milton Williams

49ers: Javon Kinlaw, Arik Armstead, Kevin Givens

This is as close as it gets on paper. Armstead and Kinlaw, both of whom were injured earlier in the year, are big names with the potential to make a difference. The former helped keep Dak Preston under pressure during the 49ers’ divisional-round victory. Philly’s inner circle has been far more productive than ever before. Although Cox may not be the game-wrecker that he was briefly at the peak of his career, Hargrave has been a consistent pocket disruptor in a contract year and has logged a career-high 11 tackles.

Advantage: 49ers

Video: Javon Kinlaw 🐃 49ers Best Highlights

Javon Kinlaw 🐃 49ers Best Highlights


Eagles: Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham

49ers: Nick Bosa, Samson Ebukam, Charles Omenihu

This is the collective that may decide Sunday’s game. Both clubs have some of the most dangerous pass-rushing units in all football. Both teams are relentless, but they’re built differently. Bosa is the one who performs the bulk of the work in San Francisco. He single-handedly tortures QBs to the tune of an NFL-best 18.5sacks and 49 QB hits. Reddick in Philly is the headliner. He has enjoyed a career year as an experienced stand-up rusher (16 sacks, five forced fumbles), while Sweat and Graham work together with such efficiency (22 combined sacks) that there’s more evenly distributed pressure.

Advantage: Eagles

Video: Philadelphia Eagles Top Defensive Highlights from the 2022 Season 🦅 at the Bye Week

Philadelphia Eagles Top Defensive Highlights from the 2022 Season 🦅 at the Bye Week


Eagles: T.J. Edwards, Kyzir White

49ers: Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw

Edwards is an underrated tackle machine for the Eagles’ “D”, but there may not be a more significant talent advantage overall, since San Francisco is loaded in the middle. Warner is still one of the most experienced players in his position and is probably better than ever in coverage. On the other hand, Greenlaw isn’t getting nearly enough attention for his sideline-to sideline talents, with a career-best of three takeaways this season.

Advantage: 49ers

Video: Fred Warner 🔨 2021 Best Highlights

Fred Warner 🔨 2021 Best Highlights


Eagles: Darius Slay, James Bradberry, Avonte Maddox

49ers: Charvarius Ward, Deommodore Lenoir, Jimmie Ward

Charvarius Ward was a big-money addition to the Chiefs. He has been a solid cover man for San Francisco, despite not having gaudy numbers but has been beaten a little more down the stretch. Jimmie Ward has performed well when healthy as the 49ers’ physical-chess piece. Slay can be prone to making big plays in Philly. But he and Bradberry have been like 1A for the NFL’s top pass, “D.” The two veterans are both adept in tight windows, and Bradberry keeps his takeaways for the biggest moments. The Eagles’ slot corner position will be an X-factor, whereas Maddox has been a star but struggled to stay healthy.

Advantage: Eagles

Video: Top 10 Plays by Darius Slay, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and more | Philadelphia Eagles Highlights

Top 10 Plays by Darius Slay, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and more | Philadelphia Eagles Highlights


Eagles: C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Marcus Epps

49ers: Talanoa Hufanga, Tashaun Gipson

These safety duos will satisfy your craving if you like forced turnovers. Hufanga and Gipson have combined for nine picks, while Gardner-Johnson has six, despite missing some time because of injury. Surprisingly none of these defensive backs has been too restrictive in their coverage. They’ve all been very opportunistic. This is a testimony to the strength of both sides’ dominant defenses, the trenches. There, steady pressure has forced more errant throws towards the back end.

Advantage: 49ers

Video: Talanoa Hufanga Highlights 2022 #49ers

Talanoa Hufanga Highlights 2022 #49ers

Special Teams

Eagles: Jake Elliott (K), Brett Kern (P), Britain Covey (PR)

49ers: Robbie Gould (K), Mitch Wishnowsky (P), Ray-Ray McCloud (KR/PR)

Elliott retains some of the magic from his 2017 title run and has yet to miss any field goals in the postseason. Long kicks are still a strong bet, with Elliott going eight-for-9 on 50+ yard attempts the past two years. Gould, who has 13 seasons of experience, is still as reliable. He made 16 of his 17 last field goals and drilled a pair of 50-yarders during their divisional-round victory over Dallas. McCloud adds some energy to the return units, and Wishnowsky has the NFL’s highest percentage of punts within 20 yards of opponents.

Advantage: 49ers

Video: Robbie Gould Game Winning Field Goals Compilation

Robbie Gould Game Winning Field Goals Compilation


Eagles: Nick Sirianni (HC), Shane Steichen (OC), Jonathan Gannon (DC)

49ers: Kyle Shanahan (HC), Bobby Slowik (PC), DeMeco Ryans (DC)

Sirianni has been more aggressive on the Eagles’ side, and his energetic approach fuels his reputation as “one of the boys” in Philly. Schematically Shanahan is a great coach, and Ryans is a great defensive coordinator. Gannon is more dependent on his four front-line players getting home and not feeling any pressure to win. Although it’s close, the 49ers have a better track record.

Advantage: 49ers

Final verdict

49ers advantages: 7

Eagles advantages: 5

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