49ers’ Kyle Shanahan Sounds Off on What He’s Seen From $6 Million Star

Kyle Shanahan

Getty Kyle Shanahan talks with Deebo Samuel before the January 22, 2023 playoff game in Santa Clara.

Kyle Shanahan saw his San Francisco 49ers defense hold a $6 million star to just 190 yards in what was this player’s first home September start just 16 months ago.

But that was before Jalen Hurts fully cemented himself as the Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback, plus before he earned his first Pro Bowl nod in 2022. Now, the Eagles’ $6,025,171 signal-caller has rode a new wave of production and confidence — and is officially the final NFC quarterback hurdle Shanahan and the 49ers defense must scale if they want to advance to the Super Bowl.

Hurts went from losing his 2021 home debut that September 19, 2021 day to guiding a high-powered Eagles offense into the NFC Championship game for Sunday, January 29. Shanahan himself told reporters on Wednesday, January 25 that he’s witnessed a changed Hurts compared to the one who went 12-of-23 passing for 190 yards and getting sacked twice in that 17-11 loss to the Niners.

“He’s just gotten more consistent,” Shanahan said with the NFC Championship game logo banner now behind him. “You can see in that game, the ability that he has and what he was close to doing a number of times.”

Shanahan Looked Past Hurts’ Final Stats & Saw QB Coming Into His Own

Shanahan wasn’t looking at the final stats tally Hurts had in his last meeting with the 49ers. He instead saw the potential he flashed while facing the 49ers’ heat.

“He made some big throws in that game and we contained him fairly well,” Shanahan recalled. “But I think we’re up 17-3, with five minutes to go, and then he started getting going again and they brought it right into a one score game. So you could see the ability that he had real early on and I know towards the end of that year, he started getting on a roll. And that’s when why they ended up making the playoffs last year because of how good he got after that.”

But from what Shanahan was recalling that day, that 49ers contest was the beginning of Hurts’ ascension as a bona fide starter and future league star.

“We could see signs of it in that game,” Shanahan said. “And now just watching him this year hearing about it, he is borderline NFL MVP and then turning the film on these last two days, he’s just like how he was with potential and now he’s doing it down in and down out.”

Hurts, since that 49ers loss, has put together six 300-yard games and delivered new season-best marks of 3,701 yards, 22 touchdowns, a 66.5% completion percentage and added a career-high 13 rushing touchdowns.

Hurts Sounds Off on Matchup

Wednesday marked the official start week for teams preparing for their conference title games. And the Eagles also addressed the media before they host the 49ers.

Hurts, himself, sounded off on the upcoming tilt with the 49ers. Among the things he discussed: His respect for Brock Purdy.

“He’s always been a really good player,” Hurts said to Philadelphia reporters, who will soon face him a second time after facing him in college. “He has a lot of moxie, he makes plays and he’s been doing that since college.”

But while he’ll share the field with Purdy for the first time since that Oklahoma/Iowa State meeting in 2019, Hurts will be on the field facing the league’s best defense — featuring a collection of guys from that ’21 meeting.

“I mean, they’re really good all across the board,” Hurts said. “I think it starts off with their front seven and then having a really good defensive back group. They fly to the ball, they’re disruptive at every position and they’re well coached…so we have a task in front of us and a really big challenge in front of us. And as always, we want to try to go out there and execute and try to be efficient.”

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