Eagles HC Considering Putting 49ers Defense on Field First, he Says


Getty The 49ers surround Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys on January 22, 2023 in Santa Clara.

From the sounds of it, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni is considering wasting no time in getting his offense to square up against the No. 1 defense in the league, even if it means not deferring to the San Francisco 49ers.

Per StatMuse, the Eagles have won an NFC-best 14 coin tosses but have preferred to go on defense first to start. Sirianni, though, told Audacy’s SportsRadio 94WIP in Philadelphia on Monday, January 23 that he would consider taking the ball first if his team wins the coin toss in the NFC Championship game.

“Yeah, of course,” Sirianni responded to host Angelo Cataldi and The Morning Team. “We always think through all those things, and each game is treated a little bit differently. I know it’s perceived that all we do is defer, but there are times we lose the toss and don’t have a choice in the matter. So, those are games too that nobody really knows what we’re doing.

“It’s not ‘hey, we’re definitely deferring every single time.’ Every decision is thought through, just like every decision in the game plan is thought through and every scenario in the game is thought through with great intent. It’s the same thing there,” Sirianni added.

Reason for Considered Strategy in Going on Offense First vs. the 49ers

Here’s an explanation on why Sirianni has developed thoughts on putting the likes of Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Deommodore Lenoir and company on the Lincoln Financial Field first: The Eagles’ coin toss from Saturday, January 21.

Their NFC Divisional round opponent the New York Giants won the toss and chose to defer. But what transpired from there was Jalen Hurts guiding an eight-play scoring drive in the opening possession — which included a 40-yard connection to DeVonta Smith and ended with tight end Dallas Goedert one-handing his 16-yard touchdown to start the game.

The rout was on from there, as Philly scored touchdowns in four of its next five offensive possessions in the first half to seal the rout of the rival Giants. Sirianni, an offensive guru who was the offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts from 2018 to 2020 before taking the Eagles’ head coaching reins, has led Philly to the best ranking among NFC offenses and second behind the Kansas City Chiefs.

But now awaiting him and his team is a stacked 49ers defense that has forced two takeaways in both playoff wins over the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys.

“Big challenge,” Sirianni said to Caltadi and The Morning Team. “Always going to be at this stage of the game.”

49ers Head Coach Already Done Celebrating Cowboys win

Over in the Bay Area, Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers immediately shifted focus to the NFC’s top seed once the calendar read Monday.

“We just put yesterday’s game to bed,” Shanahan told reporters as transcribed by 49ers Webzone. “But just seeing them across the league throughout the year and just watching a little bit that we’ve done here since last night, there’s a reason that they’ve been the best in the league so far throughout this whole year, offense, defensive, special teams.”

Shanahan is 1-2 overall versus the Eagles as 49ers head coach, but won the last meeting in 2021 in Philadelphia. However, Shanahan admitted he had his concerns then about facing the Eagles.

“Last year we were really concerned going into the game playing them,” Shanahan recalled. “We knew they had some good talent and they had good schemes and that was a real tough game there. And all they’ve done is play together, add some more players and have gotten a lot better since then.”

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