There’ve been some pretty wild moments in an Eagles-49ers rivalry that goes back 71 years to the Eagles’ 21-14 over the 49ers at Shibe Park in 1951, when Clyde Scott caught a couple long touchdown passes and Adrian Burk out-played Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle.
With the Eagles and 49ers set to square off in the NFC Championship Game at the Linc Sunday, here’s a look at 10 unforgettable Eagles-49ers moments and games from throughout the rivalry.
Montana Goes Nuts [Sept. 24, 1989]: Early in the 4th quarter, the Eagles led the 49ers 21-10 at the Vet and appeared on their way to a 3-0 record. They had sacked Joe Montana eight times, including once for a safety. Then Montana went nuts. In the span of 11 ½ minutes of the fourth quarter, he threw four touchdown passes – 70 yards to John Taylor, 8 yards to Tom Rathman, 24 yards to Brent Jones and 33 yards to Jerry Rice – and the 49ers left Philly with a 38-28 win. In the fourth quarter alone, Montana was 11-for-12 for 245 yards and four TDs, and the 28 points are the most ever scored against the Eagles in a fourth quarter.
Bubba Paris: “We’re leaving here with a win and they’re going home saying, ‘We should have.’ But they didn’t.”
It sure looked like a first down [Nov. 28, 1992]: With 53 seconds left at Candlestick, the 49ers led the Eagles 20-14. The Eagles drove down to the 49ers’ 25-yard-line but after a Tim Harris sack, they faced a 4th-and-15. Randall Cunningham threw a pass to Calvin Williams, who ran down the left sideline toward the sticks. A first down would have given the Eagles four shots from the 10-yard-line. But Merton Hanks tackled Williams, and the measurement showed the Eagles about one inch short of a first down.
Daily News headline: “THE INCH THAT STOLE CHRISTMAS”
They couldn’t stop Andy Harmon [Jan. 3, 1994]: Andy Harmon was one of the NFL’s best interior linemen from 1982 through 1995, with 38 ½ sacks over four years. On the last day of a disappointing 1993 season, Harmon recorded a career-high 3.0 sacks and added a fumble recovery in a 37-34 win over the 49ers at Candlestick. Bubby Brister threw two TDs, James Joseph had 160 scrimmage yards and Mike Young caught a touchdown. But Harmon was the star of the day, joining Kenny Clarke as the second interior lineman in franchise history with three sacks in a game. They’ve since been joined by Rhett Hall, Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrace.
Steve Young Benched [Oct. 2, 1994]: When the 1994 season ended, the Eagles had a seven-game losing streak and the 49ers had a Super Bowl championship. But when they met at Candlestick Park in Week 5, the Eagles demolished the 49ers 40-8. Charlie Garner rushed for 111 yards in his first NFL game, Randall Cunningham threw touchdown passes to Victor Bailey and Mark Bavaro, and the Eagles’ defense battered Steve Young so thoroughly that coach George Seifert benched a furious Young for Elvis Grbac with 4 ½ minutes left in the third quarter and the Eagles up 33-8.
Steve Young: “I understand it, but as a player – especially someone who has a high standard – you can’t fathom it.”
A miserable night at Candlestick [Dec. 29, 1996]: The only previous Eagles-49ers playoff game was a wild-card game at windy, rain-swept Candlestick Park in 1996. Ty Detmer had gone 7-4 after replacing injured Rodney Peete, but things did not go well for Detmer in what turned out to be the only postseason appearance of his 11-year career. The Eagles’ defense was terrific that day, limiting the 49ers to 279 yards and 14 points, holding Jerry Rice to 50 yards and Steve Young to 161. But late in the second quarter, with the Eagles on the 49ers’ 7-yard-line, Detmer was picked off by Marquez Pope in the end zone trying to connect with Irving Fryar. Two drives later, with the Eagles’ now on the 49ers' 5-yard-line, Detmer was picked off again, this time by Roy Barker at the 1-yard-line. The 49ers won 14-0, the only time the Eagles have ever been shut out in a postseason game.
Ty Detmer: “I guess everybody’s going to ask about the red-zone performance.”
Koy and A.J. come up huge: [Nov. 25, 2002]: With Donovan McNabb sidelined for the last month and a half of the regular season, Koy Detmer made his first start in three years against the 49ers on a Monday night at Candlestick against a 7-3 49ers team, and he was terrific – 18-for-26, 227 yards, and TD passes to Todd Pinkston and Antonio Freeman – by far the best game of his career. But as he completed a pass to tight end Jeff Thomason late in the third quarter, Detmer was hit by Chike Okeafor and suffered a dislocated elbow, ending his season. Feeley, who had thrown 14 passes in his life, replaced Detmer and finished off the 38-17 rout over Jeff Garcia and the Niners with a TD pass to Chad Lewis. Feeley then went 4-1 in his first five NFL starts to get the Eagles the No. 1 seed before McNabb returned.
A.J. Feeley: “It’s been a while since I’ve had the feeling of being the guy. I missed that feeling.”
One of Donovan’s best [Sept. 18, 2005]: The 2005 season was a forgettable one, with McNabb getting hurt, T.O. getting suspended and the Eagles going 6-10 after a 4-1 start. But in Week 2 at the Linc, McNabb enjoyed maybe the finest game of his career, completing 23 of 29 passes for 342 yards with five TDs (two to T.O., one each to Greg Lewis, Brian Westbrook and L.J. Smith), no INTs and a 155.4 passer rating in the Eagles’ 42-3 win. He became the first QB in NFL history to complete 79 percent of his passes with five TDs, no INTs and 340 passing yards (only five others have since).
Greg Lewis: “We put up some pretty extravagant numbers, and there’s more to come.”
Nobody could catch Mike Patterson [Sept. 24, 2006]: The Eagles were up 24-3 with five minutes left in the third quarter at Candlestick, but the 49ers had a 3rd-and-goal on the Eagles’ 1-yard-line. Alex Smith handed off to Frank Gore, who was obliterated by Brian Dawkins, who threw Gore for a one-yard loss and forced a fumble. Before anybody knew what happened, 300-pound defensive tackle Mike Patterson had picked up the ball at the 2-yard-line and started rumbling toward the 49ers’ end zone. The 98-yarder remains the 8th-longest fumble recovery touchdown in NFL history, longest ever by an Eagle and longest ever by a 300-pounder. The Eagles went on to win 38-24.
Donovan McNabb: “He looked pretty quick for the first 40 or 50 yards, and then reality clicked in.”
The comeback [Oct. 12, 2008]: The Eagles trailed the Niners by nine at 26-17 going into the fourth quarter of their game at Candlestick and were in danger of falling to 2-4. But in the final period they outgained the 49ers by 83 to negative-2 yards and recorded two interceptions with a 55-yard Juqua Parker pick-6, a forced fumble and three sacks. They outscored the 49ers 23-0 in the final 15 minutes to win 40-26. Correll Buckhalter had 85 yards rushing and receiving in that game, the last Eagle to do that. The Eagles’ 23-0 scoring margin in the fourth quarter remains their largest ever in a regular-season game, although they did outscore the Saints 26-0 in their 1992 wild-card game. The Eagles finished the season 6-3-1 in their final 10 games and went on to reach the NFC Championship Game.
Correll Buckhalter: “I think this is a turning point. The last couple weeks we found way to lose, but today we found a way to win.”
We thought he was the next T.O. [Oct. 4, 2020]: When the game began, Travis Fulgham had never caught an NFL pass. When the game ended, we thought he was T.O. Fulgham’s 42-yard soaring circus touchdown catch down the left sideline from Carson Wentz gave the Eagles the lead for good in their 25-20 win over the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara and started Fulgham on a five-game stretch where he led the NFL in receiving (five yards more than George Kittle). It didn’t last. Fulgham averaged 13 yards per game the rest of the year and hasn’t played since.
Carson Wentz: “We looked out there and said, ‘Hey, we’re confident this guy can get it done.’ I think he’s got a bright future.”