SANTA CLARA – Nick Bosa, you just made your third NFC Championship Game in four seasons. What do past trips tell you about Sunday’s showdown in Philadelphia?
“You don’t want to squander any opportunity like this. Once you get this far, everything just cranks up a notch,” Bosa replied after the 49ers’ 19-12 divisional-round win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Squander. It’s a perfect word. It identifies how the 49ers exited their past two playoff runs, when they blew 10-point fourth-quarter leads with their 2019 team in the Super Bowl and with last season’s squad in the NFC Championship Game in Los Angeles.
San Francisco 49ers’ George Kittle (85) reacts after defeating the Dallas Cowboys during their NFC divisional-round playoff game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 19-12. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
“Wow, you’re just going to bring that up. Thanks, man,” said tight end George Kittle, who then defended last season’s closing act, crediting the Rams for merely making more plays en route to the Lombardi Trophy.
What matters now is how many plays the 49ers can make at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday with another Super Bowl berth on the line. They take a 12-game win streak and the No. 2 seed into that matchup with the No. 1 seed Eagles, who opened their season on an eight-game win streak.
Bosa’s first season also began 8-0, leading to a playoff trip that “seemed so quick.” Last season, he said “was an uphill battle.” This one “feels kind of in the middle.”
The 49ers belong here. They weren’t dominant Sunday, nor did they have to be, except in the fourth quarter, when they handled business and the Cowboys did not.
Here are 10 things that caught my eye:
San Francisco 49ers defense celebrates after teammate Fred Warner (54) intercepts a pass intended for Dallas Cowboys’ CeeDee Lamb (88) in the second quarter of their NFC divisional-round playoff game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
10. WARD’S BIGGEST PLAY
Making an emphatic game-ending tackle wasn’t Jimmie Ward’s most impactful play. Nor was the one in which he deflected a red-zone pass that Fred Warner intercepted.
Ward wrecked the Cowboys’ offense with his (clean) tackle of Tony Pollard, whose left leg was trapped, bent awkwardly and broken. It ended Pollard’s season 1:24 before halftime. “He’s an incredible player and we had a lot of respect for how dynamic and explosive he is,” linebacker Fred Warner said. “Their offense changed up not having him back there.”
Perhaps you heard last week about Dallas shock-jock radio hosts hoping for an injury to take out 49ers catalyst Christian McCaffrey. Instead, the Cowboys’ own Pro Bowl back was knocked out of the game. Ezekiel Elliott stunk in reclaiming the full-time role (26 yards, 10 carries), and the Cowboys were too reliant on CeeDee Lamb (10 catches, 13 targets, 117 yards) and Dalton Schultz (five catches, 10 targets, 27 yards, …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment