Will 49ers have Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell for NFC championship game?

The 49ers’ ideal rushing tandem is not in ideal health entering the NFC championship game at Philadelphia.|

SANTA CLARA — Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell, the 49ers’ ideal rushing tandem, are not in ideal health entering Sunday’s NFC championship game at Philadelphia.

Coach Kyle Shanahan expects, however, both to play when the No. 2 seed 49ers (15-4) visit the top-seeded Eagles (15-3) for a spot in Super Bowl LVII.

The Press Democrat’s Inside the 49ers blog

McCaffrey battled through a contusion to his right calf but finished out Sunday’s 19-12 home win over the Dallas Cowboys. Mitchell surfaced on the first postgame injury briefing with a groin issue, which is new to him in a season during which he’s already had two stints on the injured reserve list with knee sprains.

“We’re expecting to get them all back for Sunday, but we’ll see how it goes through the week for practice,” Shanahan said in his traditional day-after conference call with reporters this week. “Hopefully it will go well and that will get them ready for Sunday.”

McCaffrey played 44 of 66 snaps, and although his calf issue was monitored, he was shuffled in for third-down and passing-game snaps later in the win, and he caught Brock Purdy’s last pass in the final minute. After McCaffrey scored a go-ahead touchdown on a 2-yard run to open the fourth quarter, he had a 6-yard third-down conversion to set up Robbie Gould’s fourth field goal.

McCaffrey tallied just 35 rushing yards on 10 carries, including five carries for just 8 yards before halftime. He had 22 yards on six catches, too.

In just his third game back since his second knee sprain, Mitchell showed perhaps his most impressive power and burst of the season. He had just a 2-yard carry before halftime Sunday, then got 13 carries for 49 yards in the second half. His lone gaffe came on his longest run, a 13-yard effort in which he went out of bounds to stop the clock with 1:47 remaining.

Purdy’s ball security

Ball security is no doubt the No. 1 asset that Purdy has offered the 49ers since replacing Jimmy Garoppolo eight games/wins ago.

“He’s been unbelievable with that. That’s the No. 1 thing he’s done,” Shanahan said. “To be as good with the ball as he’s been, while still making the number of plays he’s had, that’s definitely the thing I’ve been most impressed with.”

Purdy has thrown just three interceptions in 220 passes (1,854 yards, 16 touchdowns) and has not fumbled in place of Garoppolo.

“In playoff football, or any game really in the NFL, you can’t afford to throw the ball up or fumble,” Purdy said Sunday. “When so much is on the line and everyone is playing their best football, every moment matters. … I know we have one of the best if not the best defense in the league, and I just have to do my part.”

Garoppolo, Lance updates

Although Garoppolo returned to the practice field last week to condition on the side, Shanahan is not anticipating his return to team practice this week. Garoppolo fractured his left foot Dec. 4.

“He’ll have an X-ray (Tuesday) to see how things are going. I’d be very surprised if he was out there this week,” Shanahan said.

Garoppolo’s rehabilitation schedule conflicts with the 49ers’ meetings, so Purdy’s sounding board from a player perspective has come from Trey Lance, who went down in Week 2 with a fractured right ankle that required follow-up surgery Dec. 30.

“Trey hasn’t missed one meeting,” Shanahan said. “He’s doing an awesome job helping Brock through all this stuff.”

Early-game kickoff

The 49ers are in a noon kickoff slot similar to the last time they won an NFC championship game on the road: a 28-24 comeback victory at the Atlanta Falcons on Jan. 20, 2013. The Kansas City Chiefs will host the Cincinnati Bengals for the AFC Championship in Sunday’s later game, which starts 5:30 p.m. locally at Arrowhead Stadium (3:30 p.m. here on the West Coast).

“We should be all right by 12,” said Shanahan, noting that players again enjoyed a “Victory Monday,” which means they got the day off other than reviewing game film with position coaches.

The 49ers’ previous three NFC championship game appearances came in that later time slot, including last season’s 20-17 loss at the Los Angeles Rams, a 37-20 home win over the Green Bay Packers in January 2020, and a 23-17 loss at Seattle in January 2014.

In road games with a 10 a.m. PT start, the 49ers are 11-10 under Shanahan. They lost 19-10 at Chicago and 28-14 at Atlanta this year but went 4-0 last season, including a 17-11 win in Week 2 at Philadelphia, which followed a layover in West Virginia after their Week 1 win at Detroit.

All-NFL awards

Left tackle Trent Williams, defensive end Nick Bosa, linebacker Fred Warner and safety Talanoa Hufanga made the Pro Football Writers of America’s All-NFL team, which was announced Monday. Joining them on the All-NFC team were McCaffrey and tight end George Kittle.

The Eagles were represented on the All-NFL team by center Jason Kelce, right tackle Lane Johnson and outside linebacker Hasson Reddick; wide receiver A.J. Brown, defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, cornerback Darius Slay and safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson joined them on the All-NFC team.

Scouting Eagles

The Eagles’ 8-0 start made them NFC favorites, and, despite losing two games last month while Jalen Hurts was out with a shoulder injury, their appearance in the conference title game is no surprise to Shanahan.

“Just seeing them across the league throughout the year, and watching a little bit of what we’ve (scouting) since last night, there’s a reason they’ve been the best in the league so far throughout this whole year,” Shanahan said Monday.

“Last year we were real concerned going into the game playing them,” Shanahan added of last season’s game, in which the 49ers led 17-3 with five minutes to go in an eventual 17-11 win. “They had some real talent, good schemes and that was a real tough game there. All they’ve done is play together, add some more players and have gotten a lot better since then.”

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