Playoff losses can be a tough thing for some ultra-competitive NFL players to handle, and San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel happens to be one of those players. Samuel is still having a hard time swallowing his team's 31-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game three months later.
"I ain’t going to keep going on about what could’ve happened and what would’ve happened but yeah, it would’ve definitely been a different outcome," Samuel told Complex when asked if he thought the Niners would have won if they were healthy.
“We lost because we played with 10 people."
Samuel is referring to 49ers QB Brock Purdy's elbow injury, which forced him to leave early in the game. Purdy's unexpectedly steady rookie presence had brought the team together, and without him they were a mess on the field.
Purdy's elbow injury wasn't intentional; an Eagles player's hand got in the way of Purdy's throw. But the Eagles are now Samuel's most hated team, and he's had enough of hearing about how good they're going to be next season.
"All the trash talk coming from the Eagles fan base and the players, you just get tired of that," Samuel said.
Well, Samuel got one thing right: Eagles fans never stop talking. And if Eagles fans were trashing Samuel and the Niners even though the Eagles lost, Samuel would have a point. But the Niners lost, which means they have to hear about it for the entire offseason from both fans and players. That's how it's worked since the dawn of sports.
Whether the 49ers were or could have been the better team doesn't matter. On the day it counted, they had bad luck when Purdy got injured. That's life in the NFL. Actually, that's life in sports. The human element will always come into play, whether it's an injury or a bobbled catch or a bad tackle or even just a hand trying to block a throw.