For the second straight NFL season, the 49ers reached the NFC Championship Game only to fall short of reaching the Super Bowl.
However, their 31-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Sunday's NFC title game at Lincoln Financial Field might have been more devastating than past playoff losses under 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.
"I mean, losing feels awful," Shanahan told reporters after the loss. "Yeah, this one was harder. This one was harder. This one was a lot harder, I thought."
The 49ers have lost Super LIV and the 2022 NFC Championship Game in the Shanahan era. However, in Sunday's contest against the Eagles, San Francisco played with one arm tied behind its back on offense as they were limited in the passing game.
Rookie quarterback Brock Purdy suffered an elbow injury on the 49ers' first possession of the game. Then, backup signal-caller Josh Johnson left the contest after taking a big hit on the 49ers' first drive after halftime.
"I mean, losing sucks regardless," George Kittle told reporters. "Last year, I mean, [we] fight just to get in the playoffs, upset some teams, and this year we had all the momentum. Played well in the first round, played well in the second round. And you didn't really get to see all the 49er football that we wanted to put out there on tape. But life kind of just punches you in the face sometimes. And it is what it is."
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San Francisco only could lean on their running game against Philadelphia, which led to a Christian McCaffrey score on a 23-yard run in the second quarter, but couldn't produce any more points after that drive.
The 49ers couldn't overcome the obstacles under center to go toe-to-toe with the No. 1-seeded Eagles. Now the team likely is left wondering what could've happened had Purdy not injured his elbow.