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Flipping the script | Locked On Eagles host says team should be pass-first against San Francisco

Hurts will need to continue to be smart deciding when to be aggressive as the 49ers have a knack for forcing turnovers, but there will be opportunities to go deep.

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles showed in their dominating divisional-round win over the New York Giants that when they want to be, they can still be the best rushing attack in football. 

They followed a 268-yard performance on the ground to a 38-7 blowout win. Having an elite run game is crucial, especially this late into the season, but the days of being a run-first, one-trick pony are past this offense.

They can pass as good as anyone, and they should lean on that new strength against the #1 ranked San Francisco 49ers defense during Sunday’s NFC championship game.

The 49ers feature a dominant front seven led by Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, and Fred Warner. They carried the defense to the top of the league in opposing yards and points allowed per game. It will be a strength-against-strength slugfest up front, as they go up against the Eagles' elite offensive line and the overall top-scoring offense in 2022.

Where San Francisco might be more susceptible to “easier”, bigger plays is through the air. Jalen Hurts would be wise to continue to feature DeVonta Smith in the passing game, and get A.J. Brown more involved than he was last week when he had just three receptions for 22 yards.

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Throughout the regular season, the 49ers ranked 21st in total passing yards allowed, and 19th in passing yards per game. Opposing quarterbacks also had the 12th-highest completion percentage when facing their defense.

Their secondary doesn’t consist of bottom-tier starters, but they certainly don’t have a cornerback duo of Darius Slay and James Bradberry to match a top-tier group of weapons like the Eagles do.

Hurts will need to continue to be smart with deciding when to be aggressive since the 49ers have a knack for forcing turnovers, but there will be opportunities to hit the deep ball. The third-year QB had the highest passer rating and the most touchdowns on throws 25+ yards through the air in 2022. 

The 49ers? They ranked in the bottom five in both completion percentage and touchdowns on those deep passes.

It feels poetic in a way. The 2021 Eagles were rudely awakened to the reality that they weren’t a Super Bowl contender when they were blown out in the wild-card round against the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa Bay’s defense didn’t respect Hurts or his ability to throw the football, and they were correct in that doubt.

A year later, with one game separating Philadelphia from the Super Bowl, against the #1 ranked defense, the passing game could be what sends them to the big game for the second time in six seasons. This time the opposing defense will be forced to respect it.

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