The 49ers are playing for the NFC championship for the third time in four years. This year, as the No. 2 seed, they will go on the road to face the No. 1 seed Eagles.
Philadelphia will host San Francisco on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, Fox) to see who will advance to play either Kansas City or Cincinnati in Super Bowl 57 in Arizona in Feb. 12. The Eagles, per Sports Interaction, are 2.5-point favorites and the game has an over/under of 45.5 points.
Here's a complete breakdown of 49ers vs. Eagles in the 2023 NFC championship game, including our expert's pick to reach Super Bowl 57.
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49ers vs. Eagles picks, predictions
- 49ers' offense vs. Eagles' defense
The 49ers saw their running game contained and got only limited explosive pass plays against the Cowboys' defense. The Eagles' defense can present some of the same problems with a tough pass rush and tight coverage behind active linebackers.
Philadelphia, however, has been very vulnerable against the run at times and can be exploited in the quick, short-to-intermediate passing game in the middle of the field. That plays into the game plan to which the 49ers should adhere with Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell in the backfield and rookie seventh-rounder Brock Purdy at quarterback.
Between McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle, Kyle Shanahan will once again find a reliable, comfortable matchup for Purdy scheming them open away from the Eagles' top outside corners. McCaffrey can provide fits on the ground with his combination of insider power and outside burst. The 49ers offensive line will facilitate them moving the ball in a diverse, balanced attack.
- Eagles' offense vs. 49ers' defense
The Eagles will understand it is tough on the run the ball on the 49ers. That means they'll be fine trusting Jalen Hurts to throw often and when contain breaks on a dropback, to take off for key yardage.
Philadelphia's offensive line can also work to keep Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Samson Ekubam and the rest of San Francisco's front-four pass rushers at bay. That can give Hurts some time to find either top wide receiver, A.J. Brown or DeVonta Smith, in a favorable cornerback matchup downfield. Brown will need to be a bigger factor because the 49ers are capable of cooling off tight end Dallas Goedert with linebacker Fred Warner and their safeties.
Hurts can have success throwing to his wideouts. He just needs to protect the ball and be more selective about his running spots vs. designed rushes.
The 49ers have extra dangerous weapons including third wide receiver Jauan Jenings, fullback Kyle Juszczyk and backup running back Elijah Mitchell. The Eagles don't go too much deeper than Brown, Smith and Goedert. Kenneth Gainwell, with his open-field and red zone closing pop, can be more effective out of the backfield at times than Miles Sanders.
- Special teams
The 49ers have money kicker Robbie Gould, reliable punter Mitch Wishnowksy and sometimes dangerous return juice with Ray-Ray McCloud. The Eagles aren't quite as good with Jake Elliott, Brett Kern and their runback potential. The 49ers also are the better bet to block a key kick or punt.
Nick Sirianni has been great for the Eagles with his brash and dynamic personality. He also is pretty good at scheming offense along with Shane Steichen and also has a strong defensive coordinator in another head-coaching candidate, Jonathan Gannon. Kyle Shanahan, however, has more big winning experience and has a terrific rising star leading his defense in DeMeco Ryans.
The 49ers have won 12 consecutive games and seem possessed to make up for being shot of winning the Super Bowl twice of late under Shanahan. Purdy still hasn't been rattled and the 49ers exude more confidence vs. cockiness. It's a small edge to San Francisco vs. Super Bowl 52-like hungry Philadelphia.
NFC championship game prediction
The Eagles have been the best team in the NFC From early in the season, but the 49ers have been working to gain on them fast in the second half. Hurts vs. Purdy might seem lopsided, but the bottom line is Purdy has more ideal kinds of supports to help him navigate through a difficult defensive draw than Hurts does. The 49ers know what it takes to either win or lose in this round under Shanahan more so than the Eagles. The 49ers will show with their road moxie and execution.
49ers 27, Eagles 24