We heard it from linebacker Fred Warner on Wednesday, and we heard it again from George Kittle, Trent Williams, Dre Greenlaw and Christian McCaffrey on Thursday - this team has a hunger to win as they close in on the ultimate goal of the 2022 season. With a trip to the final dance on the line, the 49ers are ready to give the Philadelphia Eagles their best shot, and McCaffrey has no doubts he'll be contributing to the on-field production this weekend despite battling a calf injury. So far, his calf issue has cost him the first two practices of the week.
"Zero," McCaffrey responded when asked about his chances of missing the NFC Championship Game.
The 49ers do-it-all back is very much involved in the game preparation for the Eagles with some modifications that will allow him to heal up ahead of the travel and game this weekend.
"It's the same process for me, just lowering a little bit of the physical load," McCaffrey said.
Up to this point in the practice schedule, the running back has been participating in the team's walkthroughs and going through plays with running back coach Anthony Lynn and senior offensive assistant coach Bobby Turner.
Running back Elijah Mitchell also missed a second-straight workout due to a groin injury he sustained against the Dallas Cowboys in last weekend's Divisional Round Game.
Lessons From the Past
Veteran tight end George Kittle has been front and center for all three of San Francisco's postseason runs over the last four years. Those seasons didn't end favorably for the 49ers who made a Super Bowl appearance in the 2019 season and ended just shy of the finish line in last year's NFC Championship Game.
Kittle has looked back at each of those final games of the season and hopes to do at least one thing differently this time around.
"Win the game earlier," the tight end shared. "That's part of it. You go back whether it was the NFC Championship Game last year or the Super Bowl, I'm pretty sure our first drive on both of those games we didn't do anything on it. On the second drive, I don't know how effective we were. Let's maybe get off to a hot start, get some points on the board, so we're not playing from behind or having to make miracle plays at the end of the game... If you make plays early enough, first, second quarter then you might not put yourself in those situations."
Against Dallas, San Francisco scored the first points of the game but didn't do so until late in the first quarter during the team's third offensive series. That hot start, according to Kittle, is huge against a team with a pass rush that boasts 70 sacks on the year.
"If you give up a lead to these guys and they can sit back, that's why they have all those interceptions. They lead the league in sacks by like 10 plus," Kittle said. "They're really good at that. Their offense has played at a really high level, and their defense has been able to pin their ears back and attack people."