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SANTA CLARA – It will be No. 1 versus No. 2 in the NFC Championship Game — the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles vs. the second-seeded 49ers for a berth in the Super Bowl.

Back in 2010, it was No. 1 Philadelphia vs. No. 2 San Francisco for a berth in the World Series. The Bay Area won that one, the Giants clinching the series in the ballpark across the street from the Eagles’ stadium.

There, next Sunday at noon (PT) at Lincoln Financial Field, the NFC East-champion Eagles (15-3) will try to end the 12-game winning streak of the NFC West-champion 49ers (15-4), who beat the Cowboys 19-12 on Sunday to move on to the next round.

The Eagles and 49ers did not meet this season, and they’ve played only once previously in the playoffs – a 14-0 wild-card win in 1996 by the host 49ers.

The series has produced some epic regular-season moments, such as Joe Montana throwing four touchdown passes in a fourth-quarter comeback in September 1989, and Steve Young wanting to fight coach George Seifert after being pulled from a 1994 game.

In the most recent meeting, in September 2021, the 49ers scored a 17-11 victory in Philadelphia, The previous visit, in 2017, was a 33-10 loss that dropped Kyle Shanahan’s record as 49ers coach to 0-8.

The Eagles are coming off their first playoff win in Nick Sirianni’s three seasons as coach, a 38-7 rout that marked their third victory over the New York Giants in seven weeks.

And now the tale of the tape:

Quarterbacks

EAGLES: The injury to Jalen Hurts’ right shoulder injury on Dec. 18 kept him out two games, but it sure did not hinder him in his first playoff win. He opened 5-of-5 on their opening touchdown drive Saturday, finishing 16-of-24 for 154 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers. Hurts had a 5-yard touchdown run to put the Eagles up 28-0 at halftime, and his rushing ability (nine carries, 34 yards) will be just as daunting for the 49ers. In last season’s meeting, he ran for 82 yards and a touchdown, while passing for 190 yards.

49ERS: Brock Purdy became only the fifth quarterback in NFL history to win a divisional-round game. This was his eighth game since replacing Jimmy Garoppolo in a crash course of how-to-lead-a-playoff-contender.

Running backs

EAGLES: Miles Sanders is the last Pro Bowl running back in the playoffs. Saquon Barkley (Giants) and Tony Pollard (Cowboys) bowed out over the weekend. Sanders had 90 yards on Saturday, Kenneth Gainwell had a career-high 112 yards, and the 5-foot-6 Boston Scott added 32 yards and a touchdown.

49ERS: Christian McCaffrey was worthy of the Pro Bowl, and he will be out to show that again. But what works so well with Shanahan’s offense is the ability to mix McCaffrey with Deebo Samuel, Jordan Mason and forever-underused fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

Offensive line

EAGLES: Center Jason Kelce and right tackle Lane Johnson each were first-team All-Pro. Left guard Landon Dickerson made the Pro Bowl, but he got hurt Saturday. Johnson is playing through a groin injury, so that might entice Nick Bosa to line up more at left defensive end. Jordan Mailata, 26, is one of the NFL’s best young left tackles, having arrived from Australia five years ago in the NFL International Player Pathway Program.

49ERS: Left tackle Trent Williams anchors a line that once looked highly suspect with three new interior starters (Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel and Spencer Burford) and right tackle Mike McGlinchey returning from quadriceps repair.

Receivers

EAGLES: A.J. Brown is Philadelphia’s McCaffrey, a mid-season trade acquisition that invigorated the offense. Brown made the AP’s Second-Team All-Pro with 1,496 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. He had just three catches (six targets) for 22 yards Saturday, so Hurts found success elsewhere with touchdown passes to DeVonta Smith and tight end Dallas Goedert.

49ERS: The Eagles will be up against the incomparable Y.A.C. Bros – the yards-after-catch producers such as McCaffrey, Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, Jauan Jennings and anyone else Shanahan schemes up in open space. Samuel had six catches for 93 yards in last season’s visit to Philadelphia.

Defensive line

EAGLES: Hasson Riddick had 16 sacks during the regular season — second only to Nick Bosa — and he delivered 1.5 sacks Saturday. Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham and Javon Hargrove each had 11 sacks as the Eagles had a league-leading 70. Six-time Pro Bowler Fletcher Cox will be a big-time test for the 49ers’ interior linemen.

49ERS: As great as the 49ers’ 2019 defensive front was, this season’s version, led by Bosa, looks even more formidable.

Linebacker

EAGLES: T.J. Edwards had a team-high 159 tackles (10 for loss) and Kyzir White had 110 in the regular season.

49ERS: Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw have played eight playoff games together, making for the 49ers’ best linebacker tandem since Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman led the 49ers to three straight NFC Championship Games.

Defensive backs

EAGLES: Cornerback Darius Slay is a five-time Pro Bowler, and that is ample reason to avoid targeting him. Problem is, James Bradberry is on the other side, and he made an interception Saturday night. The biggest pressure falls on safeties C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Marcus Epps and Reed Blakenship. Gardner-Johnson presented his gaudy necklace to Sirianni after Saturday’s win.

49ERS: In the wake of season-ending injuries to Emmanuel Moseley and Jason Verrett,  the 49ers carried on with Charvarius Ward, Deommodore Lenoir and Jimmie Ward at cornerback. Talanoa Hufanga has drawn Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors for the first time. Tashaun Gipson, acquired just before the season opener, has been invaluable.

Special teams

EAGLES: Jake Elliott is a reliable kicker (21-of-24 field-goal attempts this season), Brett Kern is their punter, Rick Lovato their long snapper, and, well, the 49ers might be most vulnerable to returners Britain Covey and Boston Scott.

49ERS: Kicker Robbie Gould might be the team’s most coveted free agent in the coming months, especially considering his reliability in the playoffs.

News Source: mercurynews.com

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