The 49ers understandably felt like their chance to make a Super Bowl return slipped through their fingers last season after losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game.
The dream never really came close to becoming reality after San Francisco, winner of seven consecutive games with Brock Purdy as its starter, lost the young quarterback to a torn UCL suffered on the team's first series of the title clash.
It was Eagles pass rusher Haason Reddick who dealt Purdy the devastating blow on a strip sack, which all but sealed Philadelphia's trip to Super Bowl LVII -- and left the 49ers wondering "What if?" in the offseason. Reddick heard the 49ers' musings about the game during the spring and into the summer, and the linebacker has challenged San Francisco to put its money where its mouth is when the team returns to Lincoln Financial Field in Week 13.
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"Talk is cheap," Reddick told KYW Newsradio's Dave Uram after the Eagles' overtime win against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in Philadelphia. "They get to come back in the Linc. It was a lot of boo hoos last year, a lot of crying, a lot of what if, a lot of this, a lot of that.
"They get a chance to come back in here, line that s--t up and prove it again."
The 49ers come into Week 13 on a three-game winning streak, certainly eager to prove themselves as the NFC's best team. But the Eagles, at 10-1, have a firm grip on the conference's No. 1 seed. San Francisco, 8-3 and No. 2, needs a win in Philadelphia if it wants a shot at a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs.
And, as Reddick mentioned, the 49ers can show last postseason's meeting would have been a lot different with Purdy under center for a full four quarters -- something they were vocal about in the offseason.
"Our defense was doing what they were supposed to, and I feel like if Brock was in at quarterback and how our offense moves, I don't think it would have been close if that makes sense," 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel told Adam Schein on "Mad Dog Sports Radio" during Super Bowl week.
"It's not sour grapes at all, it's just what I see every day. I'm not salty at all, I just speak facts."
And Samuel's fellow star wideout, Brandon Aiyuk, made his thoughts known as well. He told TheSFNiners during an interview in February that during the aftermath of the 49ers' loss to the Eagles, watching pundits talk about how Philadelphia had "the most loaded team in football" all season didn't sit right with him.
"But that's what makes it so sick about this one because we feel like everything we did from that point on ... just what we did to the league, how we just played on tape, I firmly believe we put fear in the opponent's hearts," Aiyuk said. "When they had to come to play San Francisco, the 49ers, we felt like it was our time.
"We felt like it was our time and for that to get cut short, it's sickening."
Now, in 2023, the 49ers feel like it very well could be their time again. And next Sunday in Philadelphia, they'll get the chance to prove it.