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Know thy Enemy: Atlanta Falcons - Sunday, November 4

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EDITOR'S UPDATE - 9:15AM - So yea, this article is a reason to not write a post at midnight. Jim Mora was fired by the Falcons and Bobby Petrino is coaching there now. My apologies too all...I'll update the story since Mora isn't in Atlanta anymore.

Today brings us one of the more intriguing opponents on our schedule.  In week 9, the 49ers face the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.  The Falcons are looking at a very big question mark with Michael Vick facing prison time for his extra-curricular activities.  Of course, Vick has ranged from spectacular to rather crappy in his career so who knows what could end up happening.

The Falcons are represented at SB Nation by The Falcoholic, a blog written by Dave the Falconer.  The rest of SB Nation has offered Dave their condolences as he deals with the circus that Michael Vick's trial is certain become.

The Falcons continued a run of mediocrity with a 7-9 record.  The team had an excellent shot at a playoff spot, but finished the season with a 3 game losing streak.  Michael Vick made history with a 1,000 yard rushing season but continued to struggle in putting the passing game together.

While Warrick Dunn led the team in rushing, Jerious Norwood looked really good as his backup and could overtake him this year after Dunn went down with a herniated disc.

The Falcons face several losses that could cause a variety of issues, both large and small.  The team sent Matt Schaub to the Texans for draft picks, lost Ashley Lelie to your San Francisco 49ers, Justin Griffith to the Raiders and Patrick Kerney to the Seahawks.

Lelie was an underachiver, but certainly had the potential for so much more (we certainly hope for it here).  Justin Griffith was a phenomenal blocker for Dunn over the last few years and Patrick Kerney has always been a defensive lineman who brought it play after play.

While they did well in the Schaub deal, it certainly wins the bad timing award with the Vick situation.  The addition of Joey Harrington is certainly a band-aid on the situation, but not much more.  The team should overcome the loss of Griffith with Ovie Mughelli and while Joe Horn is over the hill, he brings solid talent and quality leadership to the receiver corp.

The Falcons did well with Jamaal Anderson and Justin Blalock and snagged some quality, if raw talent in the likes of Laurent Robinson.  The team has struggled to establish any wide receivers and might finally have an answer.

The Falcons hired Bobby Petrino in the offseason to replace Jim Mora, Jr., who had grown ineffective. Bobby Petrino went 41-9 as a college coach and turned Louisville back into a big time program. College coaches tend to struggle at the next level, but something about Petrino makes me think otherwise. He was an enjoyable coach to watch at Louisville and I'm willing to predict he can be a success with Atlanta.

2007 Questions & Answers
Clearly the most important question is what will happen with Michael Vick?  I have absolutely no idea what to expect.  It's entirely possible Vick plays the whole season, misses part of the season or misses the entire season.  Your guess is as good as mine.  Of course, no Vick could provide another example of The Sports Guy's Ewing Theory.  Joey Heisman is obviously one hell of a question mark if Vick is out, but it's entirely possible he could make things happen.  Once Dunn is healthy he'll have an amazing running game.  He'll have Alge Crumpler, Michael Jenkins and Horn among others.  Maybe it's the soft spot I've always had for Harrington, but I think he could make some things happen.  And if he doesn't, well it's safe to say this would be his last chance as a starting quarterback.

vs. San Francisco
Whether Vick is playing in this game or not, I think the 49ers pull out the victory.  The 49ers will be in the midst of 5 road games in 7 weeks and if the 49ers are going to make the playoffs, this is a must win, particularly following a tough New Orleans game.  In coming off a bye week, the 49ers will certainly have time to plan, but I don't think it will be enough.  I see the 49ers putting together a complete effort on both sides of the ball and winning 27-17.