The Eagles and 49ers are preparing for a heavyweight showdown on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, highlighted by star power on both sides of the football.
Philadelphia got off to a 13-1 start and outside of two consecutive losses without an injured Jalen Hurts, the Eagles have been the NFC’s top team.
San Francisco has battled adversity and the loss of two starting quarterbacks but has now won 12 straight, with rookie quarterback Brock Purdy unbeaten in his first seven starts replacing an injured Jimmy Garoppolo.
The 49ers are in the NFC Championship Game for the third time in four seasons, while Philadelphia is making its seventh NFC title appearance since 2001, more than every team in the NFL accept the Patriots over that span.
With kickoff fast approaching, here are seven matchups to watch when the Eagles have the football.
Eagles QB Jalen Hurts vs. 49ers LB Fred Warner
Former Eagles linebacker and Niners defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans is the conductor of the train, with Fred Warner being his biggest chess piece.
The matchup to watch will be Jalen Hurts against the pass rusher, a run-stuffing, a middle linebacker who can also excel in coverage.
When the 49ers go to spy on Hurts, it’ll likely be Warner with the assignment.
Warner will work to take away Hurts’ improvisational runs while making his deep middle reads difficult as well.
Eagles TE Dallas Goedert vs. Tashaun Gipson Sr.
Sunday’s matchup will feature two of the NFL’s top tight ends and Goedert will look to snatch Kittle’s spot in the top five.
In 12 games, Goedert had 702 yards and three touchdowns on 55 receptions and he’ll play a key role in opening up the middle of the field for Jalen Hurts.
The 49ers signed Gipson Sr. after training camp for depth in the secondary and the veteran ended up starting every game this season and led the team with 5 interceptions.
A.J. Brown vs. Deommodore Lenoir
Brown will enter the game motivated after dealing with a hip injury during the divisional round win over the Giants.
Lenoir’s interception in the first quarter of the 49ers’ 19-12 win over the Dallas Cowboys was a key play in the victory.
DeVonta Smith vs. Charvarius Ward
DeMeco Ryans likes to deploy a zone-heavy scheme with an emphasis on Cover 3, and that allows for one on one matchups between Smith and Ward.
In last year’s Week 2 loss to the 49ers, Smith was held to two catches for 16 yards on seven targets.
The Niners ranked 24th in DVOA against deep passes and on throws 25 yards or more downfield ranked 29th in QBR, 30th in yards per attempt, and 29th in completion percentage.
Philadelphia’s offense raked ranks first in each of those categories and Smith could have a field day in space against Ward.
LT Jordan Mailata vs. DE Nick Bosa
Nick Bosa is the front-runner for NFL defensive player of the year after logging a league-best 18.5.
The last time the Eagles and 49ers met, in Week 2 of the 2021 season, Mailata did not allow a single quarterback pressure across 33 pass-blocking snaps, according to Pro Football Focus, while Bosa did record two sacks in the game, which San Francisco won, 17-11.
Eagles RT Lane Johnson vs. 49ers DE Samson Ebukam
Ebukam had five sacks on the season and the Niners are unlikely to waste Bosa’s pass-rush prowess against the dominant Lane Johnson.
Johnson allowed zero sacks and zero quarterback pressures in 26 pass-blocking snaps during the win over the Giants.
Miles Sanders/Kenneth Gainwell vs. Azeez Al-Shaair/Dre Greenlaw
With middle linebacker Fred Warner likely to be focused on quarterback Jalen Hurts, Dre Greenlaw will be tasked with keeping the Eagles’ running game in check.
Greenlaw led the team in solo tackles (82).
in the wins over Seattle and Dallas, Greenlaw has recorded 17 combined tackles and a pass defended.