It doesn’t take a genius to understand the NFC Championship Game may have been a lot closer if Brock Purdy had played all four quarters. Haason Reddick’s jarring hit — completely legal and perfectly timed — knocked the starting quarterback out of the game late in the first quarter.
The Philadelphia Eagles won 31-7 and the outcome was never in question. Meanwhile, Purdy tore the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) on the interior of his elbow, an injury that required off-season surgery and a six-month recovery timeline. It was a brutal way for San Francisco’s season to end as the team was forced to throw in fourth-stringer Josh Johnson who quickly left with a concussion. The 49ers had no choice but to run the ball. The passing game was abandoned.
Javon Hargrave was playing for Philly when everything went down on January 29. He had one of three sacks recorded by the Eagles’ defense that day. Now the Pro Bowl defensive tackle is a member of the 49ers after inking a “massive” $84 million contract in free agency. He recently told KNBR in San Francisco that Purdy’s injury in the NFC Championship Game made it a “lot easier for us.”
The game plan changed dramatically for both the 49ers’ offense and for the Eagles’ defense once Reddick slammed down on Purdy’s elbow. Perhaps the outcome would have been different, too.
“We kind of knew it was going to be different when all you can do is run the ball, when both quarterbacks go out, and you know exactly what you’re trying to do,” Hargrave told KNBR, via 49ers Webzone. “Of course, it made it a lot easier for us. Trust me, we’ve seen the film on Brock escaping. We knew it was going to be a challenge trying to get to him, so it would have been, definitely, a different game if he had stayed up.”
Eagles Officially Announce Marcus Mariota Signing
The Eagles officially agreed to terms with quarterback Marcus Mariota on a one-year deal on March 20. The former No. 2 overall pick from the 2015 draft will be backing up Jalen Hurts in 2023. He is set to make $5 million in base salary (via Spotrac), with incentives that could push it to $8 million.
Mariota is embracing his new opportunity with Hurts, too. The native of Hawaii told his hometown TV station that he’s excited to share what should be a lively and intelligent quarterbacks room in Philadelphia.
“To continue a lifelong dream is such a blessing and I’m very excited to be a part of this team. I’m looking forward to helping in any way that I can,” Mariota told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “Jalen’s coming off an incredible year. To be a part of that room and hopefully help him get better and the team better is something I think is a really cool opportunity.”
C.J. Gardner-Johnson Settles for $8 Million
The Eagles are in the market for a new starting safety after losing C.J. Gardner-Johnson in free agency. In an odd twist, the 25-year-old seemingly took less money to sign with the Detroit Lions on a one-year deal worth $8 million. Reports suggest that the Eagles offered him a three-year deal that could have hit $12 million per year (including incentives) but he was holding out for more money.
Remember, initial estimates had Gardner-Johnson valued at $14 million. When nothing materialized, he took the best offer left on the table. The Eagles decided to invest the money they had allotted for Gardner-Johnson into cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry. It could be a very smart move for Philly in the long run.