When: Sunday, Jan. 20, 3:00 p.m.
Where: Georgia Dome
Rarely in sports, do you get a second chance on missed opportunities. The 49ers are one of two teams on “Championship Sunday” attempting to earn a much anticipated Super Bowl berth. San Francisco’s season comes down to this moment. Every off season move, and in season adjustment was made with the NFC Championship in mind. Last year, San Francisco was two muffed punt returns away from winning a classic against the Giants. This year, the 49ers hope the emergence of Colin Kaepernick can spark the offense with explosive plays.
Although Atlanta is the top seed in the playoffs, the indoor conditions may play perfectly into the hands of the revamped San Francisco offense. During the regular season, San Francisco average 155 yards per game on the ground. Kaepernick gained 181 yards in one game against the overmatched Green Bay Packers. Lost in the shuffle of the young quarterback’s sensational play was the workman like effort from Frank Gore. He still rushed for over 100 yards against the Packers as well.
For the Falcons, forcing Frank Gore to run with the ball does not sound like a great option. The Falcons truly have to play over their heads to slow down the 49ers ground game. Timely stops and a forced fumble helped thwart any offensive output by the Seattle Seahawk’s last week. The Falcons may need to capitalize off of San Francisco miscues on Sunday.
However, Colin was unflappable after throwing an early interception for a touchdown against the Packers. He shook off the slow start to lead his team right down the field.
San Francisco does have a couple distractions entering the NFC Championship game. Stand out receiver, Michael Crabtree has been question for an alleged sexual assault. He is with the team, and as of Sunday morning, Crabtree will be in the starting lineup.
Defensively, the 49ers must contain the incredible duo of Julio Jones and Roddy White. Atlanta is adept at producing big plays in the passing game. Although the 49ers have a great defense, their biggest weakness should be against the passing game. Still, Atlanta will need to provide a strong running game to slow down the 49ers front seven.
Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers combined for 162 yards on the ground in the divisional round. The Falcons balanced offense might have to win this game to cover up defensive efficiencies.
Matt Ryan will be under pressure, but he does have the ability to make clutch throws when the game is on the line. He needs to avoid the bad interceptions as well. San Francisco lives off of mistakes, and Atlanta might not be equipped to overcome miscues on Sunday.
Not many people are giving the Falcons a great chance to come away with the Super Bowl berth. Part of it is the elegance and allure of Colin Kaepernick. Another part is pundits don’t believe in the Falcons just yet. Even with a (14-3) record, they feel Atlanta has been lucky quite a few times. Once again, this game may come down to making and taking field goals. The team that plays smart in the first half will be set up for a nice victory.
In the end, San Francisco’s running game should be too much for Atlanta.
San Francisco 31
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