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49ers’ Super Bowl hopes melt in a nightmare NFC Championship

5 observations from it All Falling Down in Philadelphia.

NFL: NFC Championship-San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers got their hearts ripped out when both quarterbacks exited the game. Instantly, the team’s Super Bowl hopes came to a screeching halt.

The 49ers got baptized 31-7 to the Philadelphia Eagles in what was a hard to watch NFC Championship game. We take a look at five observations from below, where there were some positives, believe it or not.

No-Fly zone

The defenses’ name has been tarnished from the three short fields given by the offense and special teams. DeMeco Ryans’ unit held Philadelphia’s offense to a season low of 121 passing yards. It would've been the best performance of the year, but they committed to drive extending penalties. Where both drives ended in touchdowns.

Jalen Hurts smartly threw the ball away, with Eagles receivers constantly smothered. Hurts took what the game gave him and ended with an average target depth of 9.7 yards. Deommodore Lenoir and company did an impressive job taking explosive plays away from Philadelphia.

It's unfortunate that the Shanahan's eyes in the sky weren't on DeVonta Smith’s fourth down drop. Challenging the play would-be erased the longest pass of the day (29-yard gain) and shifted momentum back to San Francisco.

Untimely penalties cost the Niners

Dre Greenlaw had two crucial penalties and the Eagles toyed with him in space in the run game. Jimmie Ward’s pass interference penalty on 3rd and 6 was a ticky tack call, but Charvarius Wards’ illegal contact penalty gave Philly fresh downs on the same drive before they punched it in for a touchdown.

The 49ers were down 14 at the start of the second half, and there was life in the players despite the two first-half fumbles.

The defense was able to get a stop on Philadelphia’s second drive in the second half, but Jordan Mason’s roughing the kicker penalty ultimately put the game away.

Blocked punts are tough with the protection of the punter these days. Mason must know he can’t hit the punter there, especially when your defense gets a stop down 14 with no one to throw the ball past 10 yards.

Addressing the trenches

Javon Kinlaw is in murky waters. Sirianni’s plan to run directly at him worked with little to no push back, The 14th overall pick in the 2020 Draft appeared to be a brute defensive tackle coming out of college, but injuries forced him to take on nose tackle responsibilities.

He had no impact against the Eagles’ run game. He faced an All-Pro center in Jason Kelce, and we saw him get pushed out the frame play after play.

Kenneth Gainwell sparked Philadelphia’s run game. He dashed around the edge, through the middle and made 11-yard runs loom like explosives. Players not named Nick Bosa we're also non-impactful in the run game, leaving a ton of looming questions for the defensive line room.

Several free agents plus a rookie who oddly became a healthy scratch in the most important time of the season shows the defensive line will need major reconstruction. Maybe it's time to move to a 34 defense after all.

The Eagles’ defense generated a 61.9% pressure rate, and it felt like it came from all angles. Purdy frequently rushed out to the left last week, but stayed still as concrete this week.

San Francisco has a major decision on retaining right tackle Mike McGlinchey. The right side of the offensive line needs work, but it may be worth bringing McGlinchey back. I'm

Quarterback controversy

Losing two quarterbacks in the conference championship after winning eight straight with 2022’s Mr. Irrelevant is brutal. And putting any “can't win the big game” status on Shanahan after this game is even crazier. Though, I think he should have gone to the wildcat formation earlier.

It's hard not to talk about the quarterback situation with constant injuries to the room. Hopefully, Trey Lance heals, and we have a true competition to see who can put the team in the best position to win.

A long wait

Over 220 days until regular season football stinks. Azeez Al-Shaair and Jimmie Ward need to be at the top of San Francisco’s free agent list. Ward wants top safety money and deserves it. Hopefully, he's retained and moved back to free safety.

It'll be hard for the 49ers not to hang their heads low with the season ending like this. However, the season was magical and should be cherished for what it was.