PHILADELPHIA – Brock Purdy’s magical run from being the last pick in the NFL draft to winning his first seven starts for the San Francisco 49ers ended when Haason Reddick knocked him out in the first quarter of the NFC championship game.
Purdy was forced to return in the second half despite an elbow injury after Josh Johnson left with a concussion. But he threw only two passes and handed off the other plays.
By that time, the 49ers already trailed the Eagles 21-7 and couldn’t get anything going in the 31-7 loss Sunday.
“My arm felt like it stretched out, a lot of shocks all over from my elbow down to my wrist, front and back, pain all over,” Purdy said. "I couldn't throw more than 5, 10 yards."
Purdy will have an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of his injury, a theme quite familiar to the 49ers.
From Trey Lance to Jimmy Garoppolo to Purdy, the 49ers overcame quarterback injuries throughout the season, winning 12 straight games to reach their third conference title game in four years.
Down to their fourth-string QB for almost two quarters, the 49ers (15-5) had no chance against the Eagles (16-3).
“It’s tough, it’s frustrating,” tight end George Kittle said. “Life kind of punches you in the face sometimes and it is what it is.”
Purdy, the seventh-round pick from Iowa State, was outstanding after stepping into the lineup in December. He threw for 1,374 yards, 13 TDs and four interceptions in the regular season and became a finalist for AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Purdy completed both of his passes before Reddick drilled his right arm on a play that was ruled a fumble. The Eagles recovered the fumble and the injury proved to be a game-changer.
“It sucks. Wish we had another shot at it with everybody, but that’s life, that’s the way it goes,” said running back Christian McCaffrey, who had a package of plays to play QB if Purdy didn't go back in.
The 36-year-old Johnson was signed off Denver’s practice squad for his fourth stint with the 49ers after Garoppolo was injured in December. He had thrown just two passes this season before entering to face Philadelphia’s ferocious defense.
Johnson was 7 of 13 for 74 yards with one turnover before Ndamukong Suh’s hit took him out of the game.
A fifth-round pick by the Buccaneers in 2008, Johnson is 1-8 as a starter in 15 seasons with 14 different teams, the most for a player in league history. He also played in the United Football League, Alliance of American Football and XFL.
Johnson was overmatched in his first playoff experience.
“I was proud of how they fought," Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said. "They got dealt a tough hand. I hurt for these guys. We felt really good about this game. It was tough circumstances. I’m really proud of them.”
The 49ers played with no discipline, committing costly penalties throughout the game. They were flagged 11 times, including a couple penalties that changed possession.
On Philadelphia’s second scoring drive, a pass interference call on San Francisco’s Jimmie Ward on an incomplete pass on third-and-7 gave the Eagles a first down. An illegal contact penalty on Charvarius Ward gave the Eagles another first down later in the drive and Miles Sanders ran in from the 13 for a 14-7 lead.
Johnson fumbled two plays later, the Eagles recovered at the 49ers 30 and Boston Scott scored on a 10-yard run to make it 21-7 right before the half.
A roughing-the-punter penalty on San Francisco’s Jordan Mason gave the Eagles a first down at the 49ers 35 in the third quarter. Jalen Hurts finished that drive with a 1-yard TD run for a 28-7 lead.
Shanahan made a mistake on the opening drive that led to Philadelphia’s first touchdown. He didn’t challenge a 29-yard catch by DeVonta Smith on fourth-and-3 to the 49ers 6. Smith immediately signaled for the Eagles to run a play without a huddle and they quickly scurried to the line of scrimmage to do it.
Replays showed the ball appeared to hit the ground, so Shanahan missed an opportunity to overturn the call and change possession. Sanders then scored on a 6-yard run.
“I was going to throw (the challenge flag) anyway, but then they showed a replay up there (on the video board) and it looked like he caught it,” Shanahan said.
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