The Super Bowl trash talk has begun -- just not from the Eagles or Chiefs, yet.
49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who knows both opponents well after playing the Chiefs in Week 7 and falling to the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game, has doubts about Philadelphia's ability to take down Kansas City on Sunday.
"I don't know fully about that defense," Aiyuk said on TheSFNiners YouTube show. "They talk about them being a good defense. I'm not too sure. I think this Kansas City pass game will expose what we thought we were going to be able to expose before some unfortunate circumstances. We'll see. But like I said, you got to get lucky to win a Super Bowl. And they just got extremely lucky last week."
Although Aiyuk played opposite the league's top-ranked defense in both points and yards allowed in 2022, his downplaying of Philadelphia's ability to slow quarterback Patrick Mahomes' vaunted passing attack is attributable to sour grapes, if the numbers are to be believed.
The Eagles ranked just behind S.F. in yards allowed overall and were tops in the league in yards per play, passing yards allowed and sacks. The defense is so adept at endangering opposing quarterbacks that it's four sacks shy of tying the 1984 Bears for most sacks in a season, including playoffs.
While the Chiefs will certainly have something to say about that with their first-ranked passing offense and third-best sack allowance in the NFL, the Eagles are well-equipped for the matchup.
But to Aiyuk's point, the circumstances leading to San Francisco's elimination from the postseason did tilt in Philly's favor despite the Eagles playing well to power past the 49ers, 31-7.
Brock Purdy, the 49ers' third starter of the season and winner of seven straight, was forced to exit with a torn UCL in his throwing arm after the first drive. Then backup Josh Johnson suffered a concussion in the third quarter, which forced Purdy back into the game, but the rookie was essentially unable to throw the football. Although trailing badly, he attempted and completed just two passes for four yards after his return.
The situation allowed Philadelphia to stack the box against the 49ers on run after run knowing nothing else could come, while the Eagles offense still possessed the threat of the pass but bullied their opponents with 42 carries to play keep away and bleed clock.
"It was tough," Aiyuk said. "It was definitely a weird situation. I've never been in any situation like that, let alone in a championship game with everything on the line. It really took me getting home and being on the plane and really sitting down and realizing what just went on. Like we literally just played a football game for pretty much a half of football with no quarterback. It's the craziest thing. That's definitely going to be something you think about for a long, long time."
Another wrinkle in Aiyuk's analysis of both Super Bowl participants is that the teams bookended the 49ers' 12-game win streak. After a 44-23 drubbing by Kansas City on Oct. 23, San Francisco didn't lose again until they met the Eagles on Jan. 29.
Perhaps that's why the Niners receiver conceded to give both squads props, with the admission that he was "sitting on the couch" with no room to talk.
"Shout out to those teams," Aiyuk said. "They the last two teams standing. Everybody knows how hard it is to do that. So, shout out to them."