Brooks believes Warner-Kelce is NFC title game matchup to watch

  • Programming Note: Watch 'Players Only' with Donte Whitner and Barrett Brooks on 49ers Pregame Live beginning at 11 a.m. PT on Sunday.

The battle between the 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field surely will be a competitive contest.

Though there are many storylines to watch throughout the game, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Barrett Brooks highlighted one matchup in particular: 49ers' All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner against the Eagles' All-Pro center Jason Kelce. 

"Kelce calls the offense to make it more optimistic for his quarterback," Brooks told NBC Sports Bay Area's Donte Whitner on the latest episode of "Players Only" this week. "He's so good at blocking at the second level. 

"See, everybody's talking about Fred Warner -- at this point, Kelce, he's been a wizard of calling full blocks, block down ... get up on the linebackers."

Brooks made it a point to recognize how important it is for Kelce to do his part in containing Warner as Brooks believes the 26-year-old makes the 49ers' defense go. 

"If he can go out there and block Warner -- and he's one of the centers in the league that's good enough to do it -- it could be a long day for the defense ..." Brooks continued. "So I think the key matchup in this game will be Kelce vs. Warner."

Warner's all-around defensive prowess was on full display this season, including covering the Dallas Cowboys' best receivers like CeeDee Lamb in the NFC Divisional Round, and his ability to routinely lead the 49ers' defense and get the best out of that unit is why coach Kyle Shanahan calls Warner "special."

On the other side, Kelce has been known to be a steady presence for the Eagles. The 35-year-old has been selected to the All-Pro First Team five times and was chosen to play in six Pro Bowls. 

He is also a Super Bowl champion, helping Philadelphia beat the New England Patriots, 41-33, in Super Bowl LII. 

RELATED: 49ers believe Warner's coverage ability underrated among LBs

The 49ers certainly have their hands full with quarterback Jalen Hurts and the rest of the Eagles' offense. 

And while there might be other matchups that could prove to be pivotal, perhaps none are as important as Kelce against Warner. 

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