The countdown to training camp and the 2023 NFL regular season has begun with the league releasing report days for each of the 32 clubs. The San Francisco 49ers have set a rookie report day of July 18, and veterans are expected back in Santa Clara a week later on July 25.
As all 32 teams begin gearing up for training camp, 49ers.com is breaking down some of the key matchups of the upcoming season in this 2023 opponent preview series. We'll also hear directly from the opposition on their club's biggest offseason moves.
Up next, we are previewing the 49ers third and final playoff rematch from the 2022 season. San Francisco will head east in Week 13 to face the Philadelphia Eagles for first time since the NFC Championship Game back in late January.
2022 Season Recap
The Eagles quickly established themselves as one of the elite clubs in 2022 after kicking off the year with a franchise best 8-0 start under second-year head coach Nick Sirianni. The win streak did eventually come to an end in Week 10 at the hands of the Washington Commanders, but with dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts under center and one of the more formidable defensive fronts in the NFL, the Eagles didn't drop many games during the regular season slate.
In fact, you only need one hand to account for Philadelphia's losses last season. In addition to the upset by the Commanders, the Eagles dropped back-to-back contests in Weeks 16 and 17, however, it's important to note that the team was without Hurts for this short stretch due to a shoulder injury. The third-year pro returned in time for the regular season finale versus the New York Giants which was critical for playoff positioning. The team's 22-16 victory in Week 18 guaranteed them the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC.
Philadelphia received a first-round bye and then made quick work of the Giants in the NFC Divisional Round, notching a 38-7 win on home turf. The Eagles then hosted the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, and with their 31-7 victory over San Francisco, punched their ticket to Super Bowl LVII. After a hard fought battle in Glendale, Arizona, the Eagles were tied 35-35 with the Kansas City Chiefs with seconds left in the big game, but Patrick Mahomes and his crew netted a last-second field goal to secure their second title in four seasons.
View game photos from the San Francisco 49ers NFC Championship matchup vs. the Philadelphia Eagles
Key Offseason Additions
- DT Jalen Carter
- LB Nolan Smith
- OL Tyler Steen
- S Sydney Brown
- CB Kelee Ringo
- QB Tanner McKee
- DT Moro Ojomo
Acquired and Retained Free Agents
- S Terrell Edmunds
- LB Nicholas Morrow
- S Justin Evans
- QB Marcus Mariota
- G Isaac Seumalo
- CB Greedy Williams
- DT Fletcher Cox
- CB James Bradberry
- RB Boston Scott
- RB Rashaad Penny
- C Jason Kelce
- DE Brandon Graham
- OT Brett Toth
Coaching Changes and Promotions
- Offensive coordinator: Brian Johnson
- Defensive coordinator: Sean Desai
- Defensive backs coach: D.K. McDonald
- Pass game coordinator/associate head coach: Kevin Patullo
- Assistant linebackers coach: Tyler Scudder
- Defensive quality control coach: Mike DiAngelo
- Assistant defensive backs coach: Taver Johnson
- Nickels coach: Ronell Williams
- Assistant to head coach: Tyler Yelk
Hear From the Other Side
Get an insider's perspective as PhiladelphiaEagles.com digital media senior manager Chris McPherson answered some questions regarding the club's offseason moves.
Which player(s) was/were the most critical free agent signing for the Eagles?
The Eagles went into free agency with 18 players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents, 11 of them starters for the NFC Champions. They knew that it would be very difficult to bring the entire team back, so to retain both starting cornerbacks – Darius Slay and James Bradberry, and three franchise cornerstones in Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Jason Kelce was a huge win. The Eagles were able to mitigate some of the losses in free agency through one-year deals with players who have shown that they can perform at a high level – Rashaad Penny at running back, Nicholas Morrow at linebacker and Terrell Edmunds at safety among them.
Of course, the biggest signing of the offseason was extending franchise quarterback Jalen Hurts through 2028. Hurts is coming off a season in which he finished as runner-up in the MVP vote, capped off by a historic performance in the Super Bowl. Hurts will turn just 25 years old in August and is entering the prime of his career.
What are your early impressions of the 2023 rookie class? Any early standouts during OTAs?
There were plenty of jokes about the Eagles penchant for plucking star players from the University of Georgia's back-to-back championship defense, but the team believes they got two of the premier front-line defensive players in the draft in No. 9 overall pick Jalen Carter and No. 30 overall pick Nolan Smith. Carter is regarded in the building as a special talent, the total package at defensive tackle with immense strength to dominate at the point of attack and the get-off to be a factor in the pass game. Smith is a long and freakishly athletic pass rusher with unabated enthusiasm for the game.
Also, third-round picks – guard Tyler Steen and safety Sydney Brown – will be in the mix for playing time early based on their performances at training camp.
How are Brian Johnson and and Sean Desai settling into their respective coordinator roles?
For Brian Johnson, it's been a smooth transition. He spent the past two seasons as the team's quarterbacks coach, so he knows how to implement the vision that Nick Sirianni has for the offense. Plus, Johnson has known Jalen Hurts for 20 years as Hurts' dad, Averion, was an assistant coach at his high school, so there is a strong rapport between the quarterback and the new offensive coordinator.
Defensively, the Eagles lost five starters from last year's unit, so Desai has emphasized situational awareness as he implements the new Eagles scheme. Desai was previously an assistant coach at Temple University in Philadelphia, so he understands what defense means to the city. He said in his opening press conference that he wants the defense to "be palpable." He wants the defense to be a reflection of the city. While there are newcomers to the defense, most of the pieces that set a franchise record with 70 sacks are still in place led by Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat, while Slay and Bradberry return for the league's No. 1 pass defense from a year ago.
The Eagles and 49ers will meet in Week 13 for an NFC Championship Game rematch. Barring any injuries or major changes to either roster, what are your expectations for this matchup?
It's easily one of the most anticipated matchups of the year for the fans as these were the two best teams in the conference last year. It seemed that after the Christian McCaffrey trade that the Eagles and the 49ers were destined to meet for the NFC title. For the Eagles, it will be the latest in a series of difficult games coming out of the Week 10 Bye. The Eagles travel to Kansas City for a Super Bowl rematch and host Buffalo before the 49ers return to Philly. The Eagles know it's going to be a difficult road back to the playoffs as the hunted team in the NFC.
What type of player did the 49ers acquire in DL Javon Hargrave?
It's no surprise that Javon Hargrave fetched the deal that he received from the 49ers after a career season with 11 sacks as an interior pass rusher. Hargrave was a free agent gem of a find by the Eagles in 2020. Used as a nose tackle in Pittsburgh, the Eagles predicted that Hargrave would flourish as an attacking one-gap rusher. Slowed by injuries in 2020, Hargrave proved the Eagles right with 18.5 sacks, 34 QB hits and 111 QB pressures over the past two seasons. Hargrave brings a workmanlike attitude to the locker room and lets his play do the talking. He is finally getting the attention he deserves after missing out on the Pro Bowl last season. No question that Hargrave against the interior of the Eagles offensive line will be one of the premier matchups to watch when these two teams meet.