The Philadelphia Eagles ran away from the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s matchup for the NFC Championship.
But what if the 49ers never had an early hole to dig themselves out of?
The Eagles got out to an early 7-0 lead, benefitting from a missed call that never underwent video review. Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith made what appeared to be a tremendous catch on fourth-and-3 in San Francisco territory, reeling the ball in with one hand. Smith did not survive the ground, however, leading many to believe the call would have been overturned had 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan thrown the challenge flag.
Shanahan explained postgame why the flag never left his pocket.
“The replay we saw didn’t definitively show that,” Shanahan said, per 49ersWebzone.com. “We saw one up on the scoreboard. I was going to throw one anyways just to hope to take the chance, but they showed one up on the scoreboard that didn’t have all the angles you guys saw, and that looked like a catch. So we don’t want to waste the time out, which we definitely would have if we didn’t see that. But then I heard they got a couple of other angles and you guys end up seeing later that it was not a catch.”
The Eagles would go on to score just two plays later, setting the wheels in motion for an eventual blowout. One play obviously wouldn’t have changed the game entirely, as the 49ers essentially lost both active quarterbacks throughout the course of the matchup. It would, however, have kept things even early on and given San Francisco the opportunity to jump out to an early lead.