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49ers QB Brock Purdy injures elbow but has to return to game

By Nick Wagoner,


PHILADELPHIA -- Already down to their third-string quarterback, the San Francisco 49ers had to turn to their fourth option in the first quarter of Sunday's NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles . And then, in the third quarter, back to their third stringer.

Niners quarterback Brock Purdy suffered a right elbow injury on San Francisco's sixth offensive snap. After he was originally considered questionable to return, he had no choice but to reenter in the third quarter when his replacement -- fourth-string signal-caller Josh Johnson -- was ruled out with a concussion.

The Eagles went on to defeat the 49ers 31-7 to advance to Super Bowl LVII.

After leaving the game, Purdy attempted to warm up multiple times to get loose and return to the game. But San Francisco held him out until it had no other choice. With 12:36 left in the third quarter, Johnson threw down the right side for wideout Deebo Samuel but was hit by Eagles tackle Ndamukong Suh as the ball fell incomplete.

Johnson got back up and appeared ready to keep going, but the official called for a concussion check, and Johnson headed to the blue medical tent. He then went to the locker room to be evaluated further. Purdy threw a short screen pass to running back Christian McCaffrey for a gain of 3 on his first attempt after coming back into the game.

Johnson initially replaced Purdy on the 49ers' second possession, in which they went three-and-out.

Purdy sustained the injury with 7:03 left in the opening quarter. Facing second-and-6 at the 50, Purdy dropped back to throw, looking for wideout Brandon Aiyuk down the left side. Eagles pass-rusher Haason Reddick raced past Niners tight end Tyler Kroft and hit Purdy as he attempted to throw, jarring the ball loose. It bounced off Purdy's elbow and flew forward to Philadelphia's 44, where Eagles defensive tackle Linval Joseph recovered.

Purdy initially attempted to return to the game, but coach Kyle Shanahan stopped him and sent Johnson in as Purdy retreated to the medical tent. Purdy, who became the fifth rookie quarterback to start a conference championship game, was 2-of-2 for 19 yards at the time of the injury. Hampered by his injury, he attempted just two more passes the remainder of the game for four yards total.

Tensions between the 49ers and Eagles that had been building all day final boiled over with about four minutes left.

With the Eagles leading 31-7 and the Niners trying desperately to get back in the game, a shoving match between the teams broke out after McCaffrey's 6-yard run with 4:19 to go in the final quarter.

San Francisco left tackle Trent Williams pulled Eagles safety K'Von Wallace out of a scrum and slammed him to the ground. More shoving followed and both benches emptied. After a few minutes to sort things out, officials ejected Williams and Wallace.

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