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How the Eagles, 49ers built their NFC Championship game rosters

Are they homegrown, built from the draft or did they buck that narrative?

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL conference championship games are this weekend as four teams attempt to reach the Super Bowl. That leaves other general managers and fans around the league to figure out how they can also reach the upper echelon of the NFL.

Did teams follow the lead of the Los Angeles Rams and trade a bunch of picks for established players? Did they sign tons of free agents? Did they accumulate talent through the NFL Draft?

As we look at year’s NFC Championship game, how did the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers build their current teams to get them to where they are?

For this exercise, we are going to look at both teams’ current 53-man rosters and how they acquired those players.

Philadelphia Eagles Roster

The Eagles are known to be an aggressive team, especially in terms of trading for players. They have also become a place where veterans late in their career want to come, like defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph this year.

Under general manager Howie Roseman, the team is also quick to move on from players that are not working instead of staying pat with their roster. That led to the trade of quarterback Carson Wentz a few seasons ago and being able to build around Jalen Hurts while he is still on his rookie contract.

Philadelphia acquired their 53 players in the following ways:

Drafted or signed as undrafted rookies: 32 players

Unlike most teams in the NFL, the Eagles have multiple important pieces on their team that have been there for a decade or more. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, defensive end Brandon Graham, offensive tackle Lane Johnson and center Jason Kelce have been fixtures for the team since being drafted. Philadelphia balances those older veterans out with a young nucleus drafted over the last few years including Hurts, receiver DeVonta Smith, tight end Dallas Goedert, defensive tackle Jordan Davis and many others.

Signed as free agents: 15 players

While the Eagles have signed free agents, many of them are not big names or big contracts. Cornerback James Bradberry was a huge pickup after the New York Giants let him go and linebacker Haason Reddick has been put in a position to succeed after struggles earlier in his career. The rest of the free agent additions play important, specialized roles primarily.

Traded for: 6 players

The narrative that Roseman is a trader by heart fits as the six players added via trade are the most of the four teams left in the playoffs. Interestingly, Philadelphia has traded for top-of-the-line starters in receiver A.J. Brown and cornerback Darius Slay, a quality starter in safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, depth pieces in defensive end Robert Quinn and cornerback Josiah Scott and their backup quarterback in Gardner Minshew.

Roseman will trade for whatever he thinks he needs.

Eagles Roster Acquisition: 60.4% out of NFL Draft & undrafted free agents, 28.3% in free agency, 11.3% via trade

San Francisco 49ers Roster

Known for a defense full of talent and a versatile offense that can be used in a variety of ways, the 49ers roster is the envy of many in the league. Thought to be held back by their quarterback, the team traded three first-round picks to get quarterback Trey Lance but are in the NFC Championship with Mr. Irrelevant QB Brock Purdy.

Another team that is known to be aggressive but has also drafted very well.

San Francisco acquired their 53 players in the following ways:

Drafted or signed as undrafted rookies: 32 players

A long list of very talented players were drafted by San Francisco but not just by this regime under John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan but by past regimes as well including players like defensive lineman Arik Armstead and defensive back Jimmie Ward.

The core of the team was drafted by this regime including tight end George Kittle, RB/WR Deebo Samuel, pass rusher Nick Bosa and the rest of the talented defense.

Signed as free agents: 16 players

While the Niners have signed a decent number of free agents, very few of them have been of the big-name or contract variety. Cornerback Charvarius Ward and fullback Kyle Juszczyk are two of the few decent-sized contracts given out by the team to outside free agents.

Traded for: 5 players

Three of the five players traded for would fall under that “big-name” umbrella with (injured) QB Jimmy Garoppolo, running back Christian McCaffrey and offensive tackle Trent Williams.

49ers Roster Acquisition: 60.4% from the NFL Draft or undrafted free agents, 30.2% in free agency, 9.4% via trade

Based on the two teams fighting it out in the NFC Championship game, the 28 teams sitting at home can see how important it is to build your rosters through the NFL Draft but be able to supplement in free agency and trades. The aggressive trades made by both teams in the last couple of years are a part of a growing trend in the NFL.