49ers Player: It Felt Like NFL Wanted Eagles to Reach Super Bowl After Purdy InjuryJanuary 30, 2023
In Sunday's NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the San Francisco 49ers were doomed by an early injury to starting quarterback Brock Purdy.
However, one player told Michael Silver of the San Francisco Chronicle that it also felt like the officials were working against them as they went on to suffer a 31-7 loss.
"It felt like once Purdy got hurt, someone at the league called down and said, 'Make sure the Eagles get to the Super Bowl, and not them,'" the player said.
Purdy injured his elbow on San Francisco's opening drive, forcing the team to turn to veteran backup Josh Johnson. The 49ers managed to tie the game at 7-7 early in the second quarter, but the Eagles responded with a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive and never looked back.
That go-ahead possession featured three penalties called on the 49ers defense that gave the Eagles first downs, fueling the players' frustration with the officiating.
Things went from bad to worse when Johnson went down with a concussion on San Francisco's first possession of the third quarter, forcing Purdy to re-enter the game. The rookie was unable to throw the ball downfield, rendering the 49ers offense to a one-dimensional rushing attack and allowing the Eagles to focus on stopping the run.
Despite facing a 14-point deficit coming out of halftime, San Francisco was still confident in its chances. The injury to Johnson was the final straw.
"Even when it was still a two-score game, when we had the ball after halftime, I still believed," fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. "I genuinely thought we were gonna Army-Navy this thing and run the ball 60 times and find a way. And then Josh went down, and I knew it right away."
Purdy was diagnosed with a torn UCL on Monday, which will force him to miss a significant part of San Francisco's offseason program. It's a tough way to end a season for a team that had to overcome multiple injuries to be one of the best in the league in 2022.