The San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons will meet up for the 76th time, dating back to 1966. The 49ers lead the all-time series 44-30-1, but have lost four straight regular season matchups to the Falcons. They also lost the one postseason game, back in 1999. I doubt many of us will forget that 20-18 loss that saw the team lose Garrison Hearst to an ugly ankle injury that would sideline him for two years.
The more recent last game was in 2010 when the 49ers were handed a 16-14 defeat in the Georgia Dome. The 49ers had a huge chance to win that game in the final minute when Nate Clements intercepted Matt Ryan at the Falcons 49. Clements was running it back and proceeded to have it stripped by Roddy White at the Falcons 10. The Falcons somehow stormed down to the 49ers 25 and kicked a game-winning field goal with two seconds left.
That was a brutal loss, but likely qualifies as a needed loss with hindsight. The 49ers entered the game 0-3 and were watching their season go down the toilet. They would lose a fifth straight game after the Falcons loss, and eventually finish the season 6-10. It was a tough season, but it led to Mike Singletary's dismissal as head coach, the hiring of Jim Harbaugh and the promotion of Trent Baalke to general manager.
The team rose from the ashes after a brutal 2010, and now we find them back in the NFC Championship Game for the second straight season. Ideally they'll take care of business on Sunday, and then head off to New Orleans for Lombardi No. 6. For now though, it's a looooong way from that depressing day in Atlanta on October 3, 2010.
Roster Changes since then:
C: David Baas to Jonathan Goodwin
WR: Josh Morgan to Randy Moss
FB: Moran Norris to Bruce Miller
QB: Alex Smith/David Carr to Colin Kaepernick/Alex Simth
LDT: Isaac Sopoaga to Ray McDonald
NT: Aubrayo Franklin to Isaac Sopoaga
OLB: Manny Lawson/Parys Haralson to Ahmad Brooks/Aldon Smith
ILB: Takeo Spikes to NaVorro Bowman
CB: Shawntae Spencer/Nate Clements to Carlos Rogers/Tarell Brown
SS: Michael Lewis to Donte Whitner
K: Joe Nedney to David Akers