The Atlanta Falcons (4-10) enter Candlestick Park in the final home game of the regular season for the 49ers. Even though this is a rematch of the NFC Championship game last January, the Falcons are coming in with a disappointing season.
Donte Whitner said the injuries have hampered their chances, making it easier for opposing defenses to game plan for them.
"It's a small window [for every team]," Whitner said. "Once you start losing good players, it could go down from there. Julio Jones was lost early [in the season] and opponents could add another guy in the box to stop the run. They have Roddy White who has been limited in playing time this year. You can double cover Tony Gonzalez and bring an extra guy to stop the run."
Atlanta had seven wins in 2012 by seven points or less when they were 13-3. This time around, the Falcons have six losses by seven points or fewer which included their first four losses through Week 5. Injuries have piled up throughout the team from Jones, White and RB Steven Jackson. Harry Douglas became their leading receiver and Jacquizz Rodgers filled in as the starting running back for a few games.
Despite the expectations for the 49ers in this game, Whitner said the 49ers don't want to overlook the opponent. He brought up how the Falcons have played well since losing to the Saints in Week 12.
"It's the NFL as any team can beat a good football team when someone doesn't play well," Whitner said. Whether you're 0-16 or 16-0, you can go into anybody's stadium and win."
The Falcons' last four games have been decided four points or fewer which they're 2-2 in that span. Atlanta has been known to playing to the level of its opponents whether winning or losing.
Whitner said he doesn't want to be distracted for the final game in Candlestick. He said the biggest key will be for the 49ers to not give up "chunk" plays of 20 yards or more to anyone on the Falcons' offense. With all the hype coming into this final game in Candlestick Park, he will keep his mindset on the game itself to get a win.
"There's going to be a lot of 'hoopla' on this game with it being one of the last for Tony Gonzalez and other stuff," Whitner said. "We also have the last game at Candlestick, but we have to focus on the task at hand."