Falcons rout 49ers, shift focus to NFC South title chase
ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Falcons proved in back-to-back weeks they can maintain focus when playing struggling teams from outside their division.
Now Atlanta can lock in on their goal of winning the NFC South.
Devonta Freeman ran for 139 yards and three touchdowns and Atlanta overwhelmed San Francisco 41-13 on Sunday, extending the 49ers' franchise-record losing streak to 13 games.
The Falcons (9-5) were never challenged. They took a 21-0 first-quarter lead and shut out the 49ers (1-13) in the second half.
The lopsided win came one week after last week's similarly impressive 42-14 win at the Los Angeles Rams.
''Every game is the Super Bowl,'' said Falcons safety Ricardo Allen. ''... We go out there and take every game like a championship week and we go out there and play hard. It doesn't matter what the record is.''
The Falcons began the day tied with Tampa Bay for the division lead, but hold the tiebreaker advantage over the Buccaneers. Atlanta plays at Carolina on Saturday and closes the regular season at home against the Saints.
''Now the focus goes right back to the division,'' Falcons coach Dan Quinn said.
The 49ers, who play at the Rams on Saturday, need to win one of their last two games to avoid finishing with the worst record in franchise history.
''I guess we're in the rebuilding stage now,'' 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks said.
The rout began when Freeman was barely touched on his 5-yard scoring run less than 5 minutes into the game. He ran through cornerback Rashard Robinson's attempted tackle on a 9-yard scoring run in the second quarter and capped his big day with a 34-yarder late in the third quarter.
The 49ers, who rank last in the league in points, yards and yards rushing allowed, gave up 550 yards, including 248 on the ground.
''It's tough,'' safety Antoine Bethea said. ''No one likes this type of losing. We're just not getting the job done. That's all there is to it.''
Freeman's day could have been even more productive if not for his lost fumble - his first of the season - from the 49ers 1 in the second quarter. Michael Wilhoite recovered for San Francisco.
Asked what he'll remember from the game, Freeman said ''The one fumble. It's crazy, but at the end of the night I'm going to say `Dang! I had a fumble.'''
Tevin Coleman, who had 58 yards rushing, also had his first fumble, recovered by the Falcons.
WARM MEMORIES, COLD REALITY
The 49ers made their first visit to the Georgia Dome since winning the NFC championship game following the 2012 regular season. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick said he and left tackle Joe Staley had their same lockers.
''So there was that little bit of a nostalgic moment,'' Kaepernick said.
Kaepernick completed 20 of 33 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns.
The contrast between a Super Bowl appearance and a franchise-record losing streak was obvious and painful.
''We have to create a culture of winning, and winning by any means,'' Kaepernick said. ''Right now our culture isn't that, and we have to be able to improve and create that.''
The Falcons, who lead the NFL in scoring, set a franchise record for points in a season with 469. The old mark was 442 set by the 1998 Super Bowl team.
49ers coach Chip Kelly was impressed by the Atlanta attack.
''That's a really good offensive football team,'' Kelly said. ''... It's a team that could make some hay in the playoffs.''
The 49ers lost wide receiver Quinton Patton (foot), linebacker Nick Bellore (elbow), tight end Blake Bell (shoulder) and cornerback Jimmie Ward (shoulder) with injuries.
Falcons linebacker De'Vondre Campbell suffered a concussion. With less than 5 minutes remaining, tight end Austin Hooper was carted off with a left knee injury. Hooper moved up as a starter after Jacob Tamme's season-ending shoulder injury.
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