For the first time since the 49ers beat the Packers three years ago, the top two seeds will meet in the NFC Championship Game, with the Eagles hosting the 49ers.
Both teams defeated their NFC East opponents in the Divisional Round for Kyle Shanahan’s third NFC Championship Game appearance and Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni’s first.
The Eagles could prove to be the 49ers’ toughest test of the season. As the 49ers seek their second NFC Championship under Shanahan, these are some numbers to keep in mind for Sunday:
Starters from the Eagles’ defense in the Divisional Round against the Giants that weren’t on the Eagles last season against the 49ers.
Philadelphia’s defense has improved across the board from last season, when the 49ers met the Eagles in Week 2. The five starters from the Divisional Round that wasn’t on the Eagles last season were Haason Reddick, James Bradberry, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Linval Joseph, and Reed Blankenship.
The key names there are Reddick, Bradberry, and Gardner-Johnson. Reddick led the Eagles with 16 sacks and played a huge role in turning a defense that had the 29th-most sacks last season into one that was three sacks away from breaking the single-season record.
Bradberry and Gardner-Johnson combined for nine interceptions between the two, helping the defense go from 26th in takeaways last season to a top-five team. Philadelphia not only addressed their needs from last season, but found All-Pro talents in Reddick and Bradberry and a safety who tied for the most interceptions in the league in Gardner-Johnson.
Players on the Eagles defense with 11 or more sacks.
The Eagles pass rush was more than just Reddick and his 16 sacks. Only the 1989 Vikings and 1984 Bears have finished with more sacks than the 2022 Eagles. Behind Reddick were Javon Hargrave, Josh Sweat, and Brandon Graham with 11 sacks each.
The pressure comes at all angles, with Reddick playing 82 percent of his snaps on the left side of the defense and Hargrave and Sweat playing the vast majority on the right side.
Graham might be the toughest matchup of the foursome. He’s played the fewest amount of pass rush snaps, being used most on passing downs, but had the highest percentage of pressures per pass rush on the Eagles, generating pressure on 16.7 of his pass snaps.
The 49ers handled a tough matchup against the Cowboys, but the Eagles are an entirely different beast with their spoils of pass rushers.
The number of games the Eagles’ defense has allowed 100 or more rushing yards.
As intimidating as Philadelphia’s defense sounds, they have a weak spot against the run. The Eagles allowed an average of 121.6 yards per game, ranking in the middle of the league, but allowed 4.6 yards per attempt, the ninth-highest average allowed.
The Eagles have allowed 100 or more rushing yards in each of their last six games, while also allowing a rushing touchdown each game over the span. Even with the 49ers’ struggles against Dallas last week, Kyle Shanahan stayed committed to the run and squeezed out 113 rushing yards on 32 total attempts.
The 49ers themselves have rushed for at least 100 yards in each of their last eight games and 12 of 13 games since acquiring Christian McCaffrey.
With all the talent on Philadelphia’s pass defense, Shanahan could choose to test their run defense early and often.
Interception percentage of Eagles quarterback, Jalen Hurts, tied for the fourth-lowest in the league. The 49ers’ defense finished with the third-highest interception percentage this season. Something will have to give on Sunday.
Hurts finished with almost twice as many 40-yard passes (11) than interceptions this season (6) while dropping his career interception percentage two full points down to 1.8 percent.
With A.J. Brown joining DeVonta Smith, Hurts utilized his two weapons to throw for 600 more yards than last season on just 41 more attempts while also minimizing his turnovers.
The interceptions have popped up as a slight concern with Hurts throwing three interceptions in his last three games dating back to Week 15 after throwing just three in his first 13 games.
Hurts threw a pair against the Bears when he injured his shoulder, causing him to miss two games before throwing an interception in his return against the Giants in Week 18. Those concerns might be gone, however, after Hurts didn’t throw an interception last week in the Eagles’ 38-7 win over the Giants.
The 49ers have three interceptions in two playoff games and have intercepted a pass in each of their past five games. Hurts will be a tough challenge for the 49ers to continue the interception streak.