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Someone Woke Up The 49ers Before The Eagles Put Them To Bed

Fred Warner of the San Francisco 49ers gives his teammates a hype-up speech before their loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Conference Championship.
Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Sunday's final score notwithstanding, the San Francisco 49ers weren't doomed Saturday night. And yet, even as they slept—especially as they slept—the signs were already revealing themselves. From comedian laureate Kathleen Madigan:

Madigan had finished a tour date in Bensalem, Penn., and needed her sleep only slightly less than the 49ers, but also she had five free days before heading to Las Vegas. The 49ers, on the other hand, had to face a highly motivated and physically dominant Philadelphia Eagles team in just 15 hours, and they lasted ... well, as long as a team playing its clear superior on insufficient sleep could. While we don't wish to minimize the burden of losing both rookie Brock Purdy and MVP candidate Josh Johnson, the 49ers were clearly not as proactive as usual, and their 11 penalties and a late-game bench-emptier indicate that they were particularly irritable.

In short, those who know Madigan as both a straight shooter and a savvy bettor raced to their phones and bet the Eagles up from 2 1/2 points to three and then cruised to an easy cover.

At least that's going to be our version of events. Anyone can break down a game with primitive tools like highlights or all-22 views or I-used-to-play-the-game-so-I'm-an-oracle bravado. Give me an eyewitness watching red-eyed mesomorphs wandering aimlessly around the lobby of a hotel in the middle of the night every time.

This kind of skullduggery goes on often in the sporting business, as fans decide they must impact the game in ways other than as debit cards with feet. It isn't always foolproof, although fools are always involved. But credit where it's due on this one. When Niners tackle Trent Williams ragdolled Eagles safety K'Von Wallace in a fourth-quarter brawl, people saw a man giving vent to his emotions in defeat; those in the know, on the other hand, saw a man working on five hours instead of the standard eight. Indeed, the seven penalties that netted the Eagles offense 72 of their 269 total yards all came after the evenly played first quarter. If we could have monitored their biorhythms, we would have seen just how much the REM deficiencies played a part.

OK, OK, it played almost no part. The Eagles kicked multitudes of arse in a game that stopped being close as soon as Miles Sanders put the Eagles ahead 14-7, and stopped being even remotely discussable when Boston Scott scored 80 seconds later. They were the better team going in, and the much better team going out, notwithstanding sleep injuries, penalty yards, or occult intervention.

But they were also definitely the better-rested team during it, and by a lot more than the field goal Vegas demanded of it. If you think otherwise, take it up with Kathleen Madigan. She'll cut you into strips like a half-drunken heckler in the time it takes for Kyle Shanahan to start making his 2023 seventh round quarterback draft list. After all, Shanahan saw what happens when four quarterbacks aren't enough, and I see sleepers (pun intended) like Aidan O'Connell, Jake Haener, and Tyson Bagent. Look 'em up, you smug nerdy hyenas. You didn't know Brock Purdy a year ago, either.

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