NFL: 49ers-Falcons preview

The Examiner breaks down the 49ers-Falcons game, including what it will take to win, the matchups, a word about the coaches, our humble predictions and broadcast information.

THREE KEYS TO A VICTORY

1. The Atlanta Falcons appear to have slightly more talent than the Niners. Warrick Dunn and Jerrious Norwood haven’t done much this season. But the Niners’ defense has given up an average of 110 yards rushing in its last four games and also also gives up seven catches per game to opposing RBs. That means Mountain View’s Tully Banta-Cain and the linebacking corps must stay on their toes.

2. Running back Frank Gore will likely be less than 100 percent after injuring his ankle against the Saints. But whether it’s Gore, Maurice Hicks or Michael Robinson getting the carries, the Niners must put together at least a decent running game to set an early tone. And the Falcons’ run defense allows 4.3 yards per carry. So, moving the ball on the ground isn’t unrealistic.

3. Niners quarterback Alex Smith showed grit and toughness when he stayed in the game despite his shoulder still hurting during a blowout. If he insists on staying in the game, he needs to make the big plays — otherwise, he might as well sit and let his shoulder heal.

KEY MATCHUPS

ADAM SNYDER vs. JOHN ABRAHAM

Snyder: Left tackle gets his second straight start in place of the injured Jonas Jennings.

Abraham: Former Jet hasn’t made much noise this season. Has just one tackle in each of the last three weeks.

WALT HARRIS vs. RODDY WHITE

Harris: Pro Bowl cornerback was picked on often by the Saints. Will seek redemption.

White: Falcons’ WR coming off eight catches for 110 yards and a TD last week. Should be active.

AUBRAYO FRANKLIN vs. JOEY HARRINGTON

Franklin: Nose tackle has done nothing to intimidate opponents. He has just 13 tackles this season. Ugh.

Harrington: QB threw for 200 yards and had two interceptions in his only game against Niners (a loss in ’03).

COACHES' CORNER

We still think it’s way too early to call for Mike Nolan’s head on a platter. But if the Niners can’t get anything going soon, fans won’t be blaming offensive coordinator Jeff Hostler much longer.

It’s hard to place blame on first-year coach Bobby Petrino for what has happened to the Falcons this season. He thought he’d have Vick and even backup Matt Schaub, who is now in Houston.

THE EXAMINER PREDICTS …

You can throw the records out the window for this one — which is probably something these two teams would certainly love to do. Good thing everyone will be talking about the Colts and Patriots no matter what happens in this stinker special. FALCONS 5, 49ers 3

49ers at Falcons

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: KTVU (Ch. 2)

Radio: KNBR (680 AM)

NFLSan Francisco 49erssports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted changes to The City's streets including Slow Streets closures to increase open space access and the Shared Spaces program, which allows businesses to use public right-of-ways for dining, retail and services. (Examiner illustration)
COVID is reshaping the streets of San Francisco

Walk down Page Street, which is closed to thru-traffic, and you might… Continue reading

At a rally in February, Monthanus Ratanapakdee, left, and Eric Lawson remember Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man who died after he was pushed to the pavement in San Francisco. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/Examiner file photo)
The criminal justice system can’t fix what’s wrong in our community

My 87-year-old mother walks gingerly, slowly, deliberately, one step in front of… Continue reading

Superintendent Vincent Matthews said some students and families who want to return will not be able to do so at this time. “We truly wish we could reopen schools for everyone,” he said. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFUSD sets April reopening date after reaching tentative agreement with teachers union

San Francisco Unified School District has set April 12 as its reopening… Continue reading

José Victor Luna and Maria Anabella Ochoa, who cite health reasons for continuing distance learning, say they have been enjoying walking in Golden Gate Park with their daughters Jazmin, a first grader, and Jessica, a third grader. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Some SFUSD families prefer distance learning

Health issues, classroom uncertainties among reasons for staying home

Most Read