This will be the first time the 49ers face the Falcons since the 1998 Divisional playoffs where the Falcons won 20-18 in the Georgia Dome. In the last game, Garrison Hearst suffered a broken ankle on the first play from scrimmage in the 49ers' defeat.
The last time the 49ers faced the Falcons in the regular season, Matt Bryant kicked a 43-yard field goal in the final seconds for a 16-14 Falcons' victory in 2010. The 49ers have lost five of their last six trips to the Georgia Dome, with their lone victory coming from 2001 when Terrell Owens caught a game winning touchdown.
The 49ers are 1-3 in road NFC Championship Games, with the only victory coming from the 1988 team that won at Chicago before winning Super Bowl XXIII.
One subplot of Sunday’s matchup will be the resurgence in the 49ers offense led by playmaking quarterback Colin Kaepernick versus a Falcons defense coordinated by Mike Nolan, who served as the 49ers’ coach from 2005 until his firing came seven games into the 2008 season. Nolan went 18-37 before being replaced by Mike Singletary.
This was the first playoff win by Matt Ryan and Falcons head coach Mike Smith after losing playoff openers in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
The Falcons blew a 20-0 halftime lead and needed a 49-yard field goal by Matt Bryant with eight seconds left to survive.
This is the 49ers' second straight appearance in the NFC Championship Game. Last year, they lost 20-17 in overtime to the visiting New York Giants. The last NFC team to reach back-to-back conference finals were the Philadelphia Eagles from 2001-04.
Jim Harbaugh said he is prepared for whoever the 49ers would face in the next round. It's all about looking at the film and seeing what the teams do, according to Harbaugh.
“We want to study for the test, [for] whoever that is that we’re playing, " said Harbaugh after the winning the playoff game. "[We want to] have a great week of preparation and then come out and compete like maniacs."
Now they know they'll have a week to to prepare for and face the Falcons.