WATCH: Matt Ryan earns fitting comeback victory against Kyle Shanahan
The stakes weren't nearly as high, and they were on different sidelines this time, but Matt Ryan and Kyle Shanahan were back on the same NFL field for the first time since Super Bowl LI. On this occasion, it was Ryan with the comeback victory.
For Shanahan, it was more of the same from the Super Bowl -- a multi-score lead in the fourth quarter blown in part because his offense was unable to seal the victory.
After a special teams fumble set up the 49ers at the Falcons 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter, San Francisco took a nine-point lead on a 1-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was no good, but the 49ers still led by two scores with about 10 minutes to play.
But the Falcons didn't quit. Ryan led them on a nine-play, 75-yard drive ending in a touchdown to pull within two points. The 49ers had 5:15 left on the clock to kill or extend their lead back to nine with another touchdown.
The 49ers remained aggressive early on the next drive, and Jimmy Garoppolo found Deebo Samuel for a 29-yard pass on the fourth play of the possession to move into field-goal range.
In the Super Bowl three years ago, the Falcons only needed a field goal while up eight with a few minutes remaining to likely seal their first championship, but instead, Shanahan continued throwing the ball down field. A holding penalty and sack resulted in no field-goal attempt. The rest is history, with the Patriots winning the game.
Shanahan may have had that Super Bowl playcalling on his mind Sunday, as the 49ers ran the ball on first down and then threw two passes short of the first-down line after the big play to Samuel. In other words, the 49ers were fine playing for the field goal.
The only problem, though, is the field goal only moved San Francisco ahead by five. Ryan put together a drive in the two-minute drill to win the game.
Ryan threw for 95 yards in the game's final 10 minutes. San Francisco penalties aided Atlanta's first fourth-quarter touchdown, but Ryan accounted for all 70 of Atlanta's yards on the final drive -- 61 through the air and nine rushing yards.
The 49ers are obviously having a better season than the Falcons, but it had to feel good for Ryan to stick it to his former coordinator -- one that he's acknowledged played a significant role in the Super Bowl loss three years ago.