49ers-Falcons: Game Preview and Prediction
Jose Luis Sanchez III
After a two week stint on the east coast the San Francisco 49ers will return to Santa Clara on Sunday to host the Atlanta Falcons. Compared to the last three games for the 49ers (which were hyped matchups), this one doesn’t stick out as a must watch like the others.
Atlanta has had an abysmal season in 2019.
They just have not been able to find their groove since Kyle Shanahan left the organization to become the head coach of the 49ers. While the matchup itself doesn’t standout with much interest - there is a story-line that is flying under the radar. For the third and final time this season, Kyle Shanahan will face off against a former employer. So far he is 2-0 this season with wins over the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins.
He may not admit it, but Shanahan had to have been smiling inside after those wins just out of spite. His exits from both of those franchises was not a graceful one, so a little payback likely crept into his mind at some point. However, this Sunday against the Falcons is a different feeling. There will be nothing but mutual respect when these two teams square off at Levi’s Stadium.
With that being said - this is a must win for the 49ers.
Their win over the New Orleans Saints propelled them back into the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff race. The Seattle Seahawks also helped them out by falling to the Los Angeles Rams in primetime. San Francisco currently holds all the cards and are in full command of dictating the seeding. With all of their injuries sustained recently - a first-round bye becomes increasingly crucial. That extra weak will extremely benefit the San Francisco 49ers to get their players at full strength.
Plus, it helps to have one less game to worry about for the path to the Super Bowl. The Falcons are a low-level team, which could make some elite teams easily overlook them. That’s how the Saints fell to them in early November. However, the 49ers all season long have demonstrated that they do not overlook anyone. They give each and every team the same respect, which is why when it is a mismatch the 49ers end up blowing them out. This is a game that will likely come down to the offensive performance of the 49ers.
Richard Sherman and Jaquiski Tartt have already been ruled out for this matchup. Not to mention that slot cornerback K’Waun Williams is still in concussion protocol - putting his availability Sunday in doubt. Julio Jones could have a field day against the 49ers’ secondary much like Michael Thomas did last week. Of course, the pass rush could negate Jones’ impact by getting to Matt Ryan.
Still, this is a game that is poised for a 49er offense that has been surging the last month. It seems like the identity of the 49ers is sliding towards an offensive perspective as opposed to a smothering defense that was shown the first half of the season. Regardless of which identity is out there on Sunday, the 49ers should handle the Falcons without any difficulty.
Once again, considering the last three opponents the 49ers have face - Atlanta doesn’t sniff that level of excitement. This is a game that should help them keep pace in the playoff race as well as clinching the NFC west.
Final: Falcons 24 49ers 31