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Kyle Shanahan: We saw Jalen Hurts’ ability early on last season

Chris Simms and Ahmed Fareed discuss whether the Philadelphia Eagles will be able to slow down the San Francisco 49ers offense in the NFC Conference Championship.

The last time the 49ers played the Eagles was in Week Two of the 2021 season.

A lot has changed for both teams since San Francisco beat Philadelphia 17-11 that day. It was Nick Siirianni’s second game as head coach and only the sixth start of quarterback Jalen Hurts’ career.

Now Hurts is an MVP finalist as the 49ers travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game. On Wednesday, head coach Kyle Shanahan said he could see Hurts’ potential in that 2021 matchup, as the quarterback finished 12-of-23 passing for 190 yards and had 82 yards rushing with a touchdown.

“He’s just gotten more consistent,” Shanahan said in his press conference. “You can see in that game, the ability that he has and what he was close to doing a number of times. He made some big throws in that game and we contained him fairly well. 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 we could see signs of it in that game. 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 finished the regular season with a 66.5 percent completion rate, throwing for 3,701 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also rushed for 760 yards with 13 TDs in 15 games.

The 49ers’ defense has been great all year, but the unit will have its hands full with Hurts and the rest of Philadelphia’s offense on Sunday.