Understandably, the 49ers felt like their chance to return to the Super Bowl slipped through their fingers last season after losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game.
The dream never came close to becoming a reality after San Francisco, winner of seven straight games with Brock Purdy as the starter, lost the young quarterback to the torn Champions League he suffered in the team’s first series of a title clash.
It was Eagles quarterback Haason Redick who delivered the devastating hit to Purdy on the strip sack, effectively ending Philadelphia’s trip to Super Bowl LVII — and leaving the 49ers wondering “what if?” In the off season. Redick heard the 49ers’ musings on the game over the spring and summer, and the linebacker challenged San Francisco to put its money where its mouth is when the team returns to Lincoln Financial Field in Week 13.
“Talk is cheap,” Riddick said Dave Oram of KYW Newsradio Following the Eagles’ overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in Philadelphia. “They’re back at Link. There was a lot of booing last year, a lot of crying, a lot of this, a lot of that.”
“They get a chance to come back here, explain it and prove it again.”
The 49ers come into Week 13 on a three-game winning streak, certainly eager to prove themselves as the best team in the NFC. But the Eagles, at 10-1, have a firm grip on the No. 1 seed in the conference. San Francisco, 8-3 and No. 2, needs a win in Philadelphia if it wants a shot at the first round and home-field advantage in the playoffs.
And as Redick mentioned, the 49ers can show that their final postseason meeting would have been much different with Purdy under center for four full quarters — something they talked loudly about heading into the offseason.
“Our defense was doing what it was supposed to do, and I feel like if Brock had been at quarterback and how our offense was moving, I don’t think it would have been close if that makes sense,” 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel told Adam Schein on “Mad Dog Sports Radio” during Super Bowl week.
“It’s not sour grapes at all, it’s just what I see every day. I’m not salty at all, I’m just talking about facts.”
Samuel’s co-star Brandon Aiyuk also made his thoughts known. He told TheSFNiners during a February interview that in the wake of the 49ers’ loss to the Eagles, watching pundits talk about how Philadelphia had “the most loaded team in football” all season didn’t sit well with him.
“But that’s what makes it so disgusting about this because we feel like everything we did from that moment on…just what we did in the league, how we just played on tape, I firmly believe we put fear into the hearts of the opponent,” Aiyuk said. “When they had to come play San Francisco, the 49ers, we felt like this was our time.
“We felt like this was our time and for that to be cut short, it’s disgusting.”
Now, in 2023, the 49ers feel it could be their time again. And next Sunday in Philadelphia, they will have the opportunity to prove that.
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