Marin Independent Journal

Heart of a champion never faded for 49ers

- — Bruce Farrell Rosen, San Francisco

To the victor go the spoils, but the heart of a champion is immeasurab­le. The San Francisco 49ers were every bit the measure of the Philadelph­ia Eagles in the NFC Championsh­ip Game as they took the field amid that hostile and ecstatic crowd last Sunday. The score revealed a 31-7 “blowout” victory for the Eagles, but the score does not quite reflect the circumstan­ces, nor will it reveal the character of this 49ers team that just could not overcome the day's adversity.

The ultimate adversity was the blow to the elbow of quarterbac­k Brock Purdy, the leading actor in the fairy tale story that brought the 49ers to Philadelph­ia. He simply could not throw the ball after that hit.

When Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a broken foot on Dec. 4 against the Miami Dolphins, it appeared that he was taking the 49er fortunes with him.

But what was to come is the stuff of dreams and legends. Purdy went on to lead this team to within one win of a Super Bowl appearance. In the process, he surpassed the great Dan Marino as the youngest quarterbac­k to pass for over 300 yards and throw for three touchdowns in a playoff game.

The heart of a champion was everywhere for the 49ers on Sunday. It was in the unstoppabl­e touchdown of Christian McCaffrey (an improbable score of pure character, determinat­ion and heart). It was found in the energy and optimism of tight end George Kittle, who never stopped trying to unite and rally the team. It was found in Nick Bosa, who shook off a gash that bloodstain­ed his pants to continue playing, and it was in the resourcefu­lness of the brilliant coach, Kyle Shanahan, who continued trying to think of something to keep this team in the game, despite suddenly losing all his quarterbac­ks.

The 49ers will not wear the crown this year, but they have the heart of a champion.

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