The 49ers’ 10-game winning streak to end the regular season put them in position to host two playoff games at Levi’s Stadium.
Now, after wins over the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco will fly to Philadelphia to face the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.
And their first road test won’t be easy.
“Expect it to be electric in there,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said Tuesday. “I was here for a Final Four game, and it was electric -- best environment I've ever been at or a part of. We're excited, and we have to go through the week and do a good job to give ourselves a chance to win.”
Gannon was once in the 49ers’ shoes. As an assistant defensive backs coach in Minnesota, Gannon traveled with the Vikings to Lincoln Financial Field for the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 21, 2018.
He recounted sharing a moment with Vikings safety Harrison Smith before that game when they exchanged surprised glances regarding the chaotic noise level in the stadium.
“You could feel the energy, and it's awesome,” Gannon said. “This is one of the best atmospheres that you're going to get in the National Football League, and obviously being the championship game, it'll be heightened.”
Gannon said the crowd noise before that NFC Championship Game was louder pregame than the noise level in the Vikings’ prior playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium. In that divisional round game, Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs caught a 61-yard touchdown pass as time expired to beat the New Orleans Saints, a play known as the “Minneapolis Miracle.”
“That was the 'Minnesota Miracle,' that game, to come [to Lincoln Financial Field] to play, and I was like, ‘Wow, I don't know if there will ever be a stadium more electric than that that I've been a part of after Diggs has a walk-off,' " Gannon said.
“When we were here in warmups, that's what it was. When we were here in warmups, it was like, 'Whoa, this is as electric -- it's more electric than [U.S. Bank Stadium] was.' ”
The Eagles won that game 38-7 and clinched their first Super Bowl win in franchise history two weeks later in Minneapolis. Rookie quarterback Brock Purdy is tasked with making sure the 49ers fare better than the Vikings did four years ago.
Purdy has passed every test that has come his way this season with flying colors. Now, he will have to lead the 49ers’ offense against a dangerous Eagles pass-rushing defense and a rowdy crowd.
That said, Gannon believes Purdy will be ready to handle the atmosphere.
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"I've never played quarterback in an environment like that," Gannon added. "But I think honestly once the ball is snapped -- now, the noise definitely affects an offense when you're at home. I know that. The noise will force them to do some different things maybe, but they'll have a plan for it and be ready to go.
"I think what affects any quarterback is the way that we execute and the way that we affect him throughout the game."