San Francisco 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert (2) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass to tight end Garrett Celek during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Marc
Marcio Jose Sanchez
November 09, 2015

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Jim Tomsula's team had just pulled off a hard-to-come-by victory against a contender and still found himself noncommittal about his starting quarterback for the next game.

Blaine Gabbert or Colin Kaepernick, who has played some of his worst games against Seattle? Sure, the first-year coach might need to run it by the big bosses first.

And with a bye week, he does have some time to keep the rival Seahawks guessing for more than a week.

''I'm not commenting on it. I'm not going to get into it, because I'm going to go back and watch tape,'' Tomsula said. ''Blaine had a great day today.''

Gabbert certainly gave the Niners (3-6) a lift - and put them in the end zone after two straight games and three in five without a touchdown.

Whatever happens next, there's a good feeling for this team heading into the week off.

Gabbert threw a pair of second-quarter touchdowns to Garrett Celek, and the defense stood its ground down the stretch to hold off the Falcons (6-3).

Celek took on a bigger role this week after Vernon Davis was traded to Denver.

''I don't think it's really a new quarterback. I think just because we've been losing, you try something new,'' Celek said. ''And we found something that works for us. I think it's going to be good from here on out.''

Matt Ryan and Atlanta missed a key chance down the stretch after Gabbert threw an interception and the Falcons got the ball back with 7:14 left, settling for a field goal.

''Anytime you don't play up to your standards, we're all going to evaluate what we need to do differently,'' Ryan said.

Here are some things to take from Sunday's game:

QUINN'S CALL: First-year Falcons coach Dan Quinn went for a late field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 1 rather than trying for the lead. His team ended up with consecutive losses for the first time this season and their third defeat in four games since beginning 5-0.

''It's certainly disappointing any time you have back-to-back losses,'' Quinn said. ''When we're not playing at our best, it makes it tough on us, and we didn't play as well as we're capable today.''

HIGH-FLYING D: San Francisco's defense looked like its old stout self, led by NaVorro Bowman. Tony Jerod-Eddie batted down passes and the Niners stuffed the run, holding Devonta Freeman to 12 yards on 12 carries after he came into the game second in the league for yards rushing, and Atlanta had 17 yards on the ground total.

''It was a great overall defensive performance. Bo was out there flying around being NaVorro Bowman,'' Jerod-Eddie said. ''It just felt good flying around, having fun. It feels good to get a win again.''

Freeman did catch a 17-yard touchdown pass from Ryan that pulled Atlanta within 17-13 at halftime.

''They have nice schemes, stop the run, and they just did their job. They did a hell of a job actually,'' Freeman said.

GABBERT'S GAME: A first-round bust in Jacksonville, Gabbert made his first start in more than two years and didn't take a sack while quickly getting the ball out behind an offensive line that has faced heavy scrutiny all year.

Gabbert ended a 10-game losing streak as a starter since beating Indianapolis on Sept. 23, 2012, improving to 6-22. He went 15 of 25 for 185 yards.

''All I know is we got the victory today, we've got a bye week coming up and we're going to prepare for Seattle. That's our next game up there, so whatever 11 guys we march out on the field we're going to go up there and expect a victory,'' Gabbert said.

ATLANTA INJURIES: Falcons rookie wideout Justin Hardy was active for the second straight week and made four catches for 17 yards in place of Leonard Hankerson, inactive because of a hamstring injury. Atlanta nose tackle Paul Soliai suffered a head injury and safety Robenson Therezie injured a hamstring late in the first quarter and didn't return.

SUPPORTIVE KAEPERNICK: Gabbert appreciated Kaepernick's help throughout the game even though he would have rather been on the field as the starter.

Kaepernick did play two snaps when Gabbert left briefly to be examined after he took a hard blow to the head from linebacker Philip Wheeler early in the fourth quarter.

''Colin's a stand-up guy. This is a hard situation for him, I could imagine,'' left tackle Joe Staley said. ''He's a professional, he really cares about this football team. He wants to see success for everybody. He's not a selfish person.''


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