The San Francisco 49ers advanced to their sixth Super Bowl in team history with a 28-24 win over the Falcons. This is the first time the 49ers have played in a Super Bowl since the 1994 season. It is also the first time the 49ers have won three consecutive games throughout the 2012 season. They came back from a first quarter deficit and turned it around with 14 unanswered points to end the game.
“It's crazy,” said Chris Culliver. “We came out on fire and in that second half and we had that energy to come back. We came as a team as one and now we're going to the Super Bowl. We made some great adjustments.”
After starting the game down 17-0, the 49ers got in a rhythm offensively with Vernon Davis for a 27-yard reception to put them in the red zone. LaMichael James finished off the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run for his first in his career.
“We had to score,” said Colin Kaepernick. “We knew we had to score on the next drive because you can't let a team score and worry about things like that. You have to move forward.”
Davis became a weapon again with receptions of 20 and 25 yards on the ensuing drive. Kaepernick was able to scramble for 23 yards down the left sideline to keep the chains moving. Davis completed the drive with a four-yard touchdown reception for his first score since Week 11 against the Chicago Bears.
“They were covering Crabtree” said Kaepernick. “Vernon Davis was one on one and he made quite a few plays in there.”
Davis finished the game with a season-high 106 receiving yards with a touchdown.
The Falcons answered back with a passing attack to end the first half. Matt Ryan found Roddy White for a 13-yard reception and Tony Gonzalez for a 16 yard reception. Gonzalez ended the drive with a five-yard touchdown to put the Falcons up 24-14 at halftime.
Kaepernick picked up where he left off to start the second half with passes of 21 yards to both Randy Moss and Delanie Walker. After a 17-yard reception by Moss, Frank Gore finished the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to pull the 49ers within 3 points.
Chris Culliver intercepted Matt Ryan, but the 49ers were unable to take advantage of it when David Akers missed a 38-yard field goal. Matt Ryan fumbled the snap on the ensuing possession and Aldon Smith recovered it. The 49ers were able to get inside the red zone, but Michael Crabtree fumbled the ball at the one-yard line for the team’s only turnover.
With the Falcons on their own 1-yard line, the 49ers forced a three-and-out and the punt gave them good field position. Ted Ginn Jr. returned the Falcons’ punt for 20 yards to the Atlanta 38-yard line. The 49ers pounded it on the ground to Frank Gore, Anthony Dixon and LaMichael James to get inside the red zone again. Gore finished off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown run to give the 49ers their first lead of the game.
The defense had one last stand to end the game. They allowed 70 yards on 14 plays, but the drive stalled inside the red zone. On fourth down, NaVorro Bowman knocked away a pass intended for Roddy White to force a turnover on downs. The 49ers tackled Julio Jones well-short of the end zone on a desperation heave and punched their ticket to New Orleans for the Super Bowl.
The Falcons started the scoring on the opening drive with a 46-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones. Jones converted a third down with a 27-yard reception on the next possession to set up a 35-yard field goal by Matt Bryant.
Matt Ryan found Julio Jones again for a 27-yard touchdown pass in the left corner of the end zone to put the Falcons up 17-0. They started with good field position after forcing a three-and-out on the 49ers. Julio Jones had five receptions for 100 receiving yards in the first quarter alone.
Delanie Walker was thrilled with this win. It is still sinking in that him and the 49ers will be going to the Super Bowl.
“I'm excited and I'm happy for my team and happy for Jim Harbaugh,” said Walker. “We knew we had it, we weren't doubting ourselves. You can't win the game in the 1st quarter, and we took it in the 4th quarter. We got one more to go.”
Justin Smith knew the onslaught of points was coming from the Falcons. He had faith the offense would come back and not be worried.
“Our offense kept scoring and it was a real tight game,” said Smith. “There were some huge plays. They scored all the points from the first half. Great team effort and team win.”
Jim Harbaugh was happy, but still calm after the big win. He said there is still work to be done with one more game remaining.
“It's another accomplishment,” said Harbaugh. “You want to win as many as you can. We set up this start. We have a big game in two weeks.”
The 49ers will play the Baltimore Ravens for the Super Bowl in two weeks.
-WR Chad Hall, who was recently promoted to the 53-man roster was active for this game. A.J. Jenkins was on the field for only a few plays and Hall was spotted on the field when the 49ers went to a three WR set a few times.
-The 49ers won the turnover battle 2-1 against the Falcons
-Colin Kaepernick had only two carries for 21 yards. He ended up giving the ball to Frank Gore or LaMichael James every time there was a read-option play.
-Frank Gore carried the ball 21 times and had 90 yards with two touchdowns.
-Randy Moss finished with three receptions for 46 yards.
-The offensive line struggled in the first quarter, but protected Kaepernick well with only two moments of pressure and allowed only one sack.
-Harbaugh had no comments on Michael Crabtree's sexual assault allegations.