Tomorrow the Atlanta Falcons travel to Candlestick Park to take on our San Francisco 49ers in what should be a rather good matchup. Still, all these previews I see aren't good enough, I most certainly need more. A couple weeks ago before the Seahawks game I posted an article much like this in which I simulated the game on Madden NFL 10 for the Xbox 360--the game picked the 49ers to win it, and wouldn't you know it, it happened. I also did this last week for the Rams game but issues with the internet prevented me from posting the article. Either way I'm back now and it should be interesting to see how the 49ers do.
Interesting because there was a large roster update yesterday, in which at least seven people on the 49ers got increases in overall rating. One player in particular, DT Aubrayo Franklin got a huge boost--he was the lowest rated starting DT in the game and he jumped up 12 whole points in overall rating to now be just above average. Other increases go to the likes of Patrick Willis (who now has a 99 OVR, the highest possible) and Shawntae Spencer as well as Justin Smith and Nate Clements.
If you're wondering how it goes it's pretty simple--I make sure the rosters are good, take out injured players and then I spectate an 8 minute game on All-Madden difficulty. I watch the entire game and provide commentary and stats. Madden is by no means an amazing simulator by any standards but it sure is interesting to see how it plays out, no?
49ers First Drive: The 49ers win the coin toss and elect to receive. Allen Rossum takes the kick at the 2-yard line and brings the ball out to the 26. Shaun Hill, fresh off an overall boost leads the team out on the field. The first play is a four yard run by HB Glen Coffee--Frank Gore was removed for injury. The next play is another run to Coffee.. no! It's play action, and Shaun Hill turns his vision upfield where he hits Isaac Bruce for 15 yards, who proceeds to turn it into 20 yards before being tackled. First down 49ers. On the next play Hill hits Josh Morgan for a quick 7 yards over the middle just before on second down when Glen Coffee pounds the ball in for a first down. On the next play Coffee is stuffed at the line bringing up a 2nd and 10.
Shaun Hill takes the snap on second down and pitches it to Coffee, right side. It looks bad, Atlanta safety Erik Coleman breaks through the line no problem and has a straight shot at Coffee who... puts him on his [site decorum] and picks up the first down before being pushed out of bounds. I wouldn't expect the Falcons to fall for another pitch but lo and behold Shaun Hill takes the snap, spins and pitches it to the left side this time and starting S Decoud on the Falcons is right there... before Glen Coffee breaks the tackle and proceeds to pick up 23-yards and is brought down just short of the end zone for a 1st and goal.
From the three-yard line Shaun Hill takes the snap and shoves the ball in the gut of number 24 HB Michael Robinson. At least that's what the guy who was supposed to be covering the right corner of the end zone thought before letting WR Isaac Bruce snag a beautiful pass for a touch down off the play action! I say beautiful, even though the pass was high, wobbly and not very well thrown--I don't care. It was beautiful. With a Joe Nedney extra point the 49ers lead 7-0.
Falcons First Drive: The ball is brought to the 29-yard line on the kickoff and Matt Ryan leads the Falcons offense onto the field. The 49ers defense comes onto the field, eight of its starting eleven players having received overall boosts in the last roster update. Ryan hands off to Michael Turner who gets three yards before DT Aubrayo Franklin makes the tackle--which is followed by a five yard run to bring up third down. This is followed by a two yard run for a first down. On 1st and 10 Ryan throws a pass directly into the hands of SS Michael Lewis, who decides to drop it, bringing up 2nd and 10. This is followed by a 1-yard run by Michael Turner before Isaac "Ice" Sopoaga punishes him with a huge tackle. 3rd down with 9 to go.
The first down is picked up with a thirteen yard completion to WR Michael Jenkins, the Falcons are on the 40-yard line. Well, the 42 yard line as on first down Justin Smith completely obliterated Turner for a two yard loss bringing up 2nd and 12. Turner then gets three yards before being tackled again, bringing up another 3rd and 9. Ryan takes the snap, feels the pressure, avoids a sack and throws a pass over the middle, but before it gets anywhere it's broken up by Manny Lawson bringing up a 4th and 9.
The Falcons punt the ball the Rossum but it sails into the end zone and the team lines up on the 20-yard line. Coffee is stuffed for no gain on the first play and the 1st quarter comes to an end. 49ers lead 7-0.
One 2nd and 10 Coffee picks up one yard which is followed by an incompletion bringing out the 49ers punting unit. Andy Lee booms one big but Brent Grimes breaks two tackles on his way to the 44-yard line.
The first play for the Falcons is a three-yard run. Which is followed by a four yard run and by my count, five broken tackles on a single play. The Falcons line up 3rd and 3. Turner picks up the first down on the next play. On the next play TE Tony Gonzales gets 11-yards on a completion over the middle. Follow this with two more runs by Michael Turner and the chain gang comes out to measure--the referee signals 3rd and inches and Matt Ryan converts rather easily with a completion over the middle putting the Falcons at 1st and goal on the 1-yard line.
On the next play Matt Ryan runs what looks to be the exact same play as the 49ers had run in the end zone minus the play action, trying to hit WR Roddy White in the corner of the end zone but the ball is picked off by CB Nate Clements who gets a touchback, setting the 49ers up with possession on the 20-yard line. 49ers still lead 7-0.
The first play of the 49ers drive is a 9-yard run from Glen Coffee, followed by a no-gain on second down, bringing up 3rd and 1. On the next play Hill takes the snap and gets great protection from the left side of his line before having to avoid pressure from the right and throwing up a wobbly pass 10 yard downfield which is caught by TE Delanie Walker for the first down. The next play on first down is a pitch to Coffee who is brought down behind the line for a 2-yard loss bringing up 2nd and 12. Scratch that, 3rd and 4 as Coffee breaks a big run. True to 49ers and Jimmy Raye form the Niners once again call a run play, and it comes up short bringing up 4th down.
With 1:25 left in the first half the 49ers take their time with the punt before Andy Lee booms a kick that bounces at the 8-yard line before rolling and stopping at the 1-yard line where it is downed. The Falcons start with 52 seconds left on the 1-yard line. Matt Ryan easily moves out, however with a 25-yard completion over the middle before taking a timeout with 44 seconds left. Another 11 yards are gained on the next play and another timeout spent. Two yards is picked up on the next pass before the clock is stopped when the receiver goes out of bounds. On 2nd and 8 Patrick Willis breaks up a pass over the middle, dropping what would have been an interception. 3rd and 8 with 29 seconds to go. Matt Ryan goes 4-wide from the shotgun and picks up yet another 1st down, the Falcons burn their last timeout.
The Falcons pick up six yards and rush to get another play off. Ryan goes with a fake spike before dumping it off to Michael Turner to close the half. 49ers lead 7-0.
Joe Nedney kicks the ball to the end zone and it is taken out by Norwood who finds a seam and brings it out to the 39-yard line. I'm still waiting for Michael Turner to get his increase since he's broken maybe one tackle this season thus far, but alas, on Madden he stands to be some unGodly force to be reckoned with as he sheds about five tackles on his way to a 1st down run on 1st down. Sopoaga continues to have his number however, stopping him for a 3-yard loss on the next play bringing up 2nd and 13.
Matt Ryan takes the snap and fires a laser over the middle to the right side. The ball is cut short however as CB Dre Bly intercepts it, creating the second turnover for the 49ers defense and setting the Niners up with the ball on their own 43-yard line. Niners lead 7-0.
On the first play Shaun Hill takes the snap and has all the time in the world. The 49ers receivers struggle to get open and after about five seconds Hill forces the ball--right into the hands of a Falcon defender who looks to be gone for a pick six before being dragged down at the 1-yard line. Hill commits his first turnover of the game and the Falcons set up 1st and goal.
On the first play Manny Lawson drops yet another perfect interception and now I have to wonder about his catch rating on this game because it happens rather frequently with him. Either way it's 2nd and 10. On the next play Ryan hits Finneran in the flat for a touchdown, tying the game 7-7.
Allen Rossum takes a knee and the 49ers start at the 20. Vernon Davis hauls in a 7-yard reception on the first play of the drive and Glen Coffee runs for 1 yard on the next, bringing up 3rd and 2. Shaun Hill throws a terrible pass which goes nowhere near any players while not under any pressure bringing up a rather deflating 4th down. The Niners punt and the ball gets to the 34-yard line.
On a pitch Turner proceeds to truck through three more defenders on a six yard run, followed by a one yard run on a draw play. Off of play action on the next play Ryan tosses the ball to WR Roddy White, who once again finds his hands empty after CB Nate Clements intercepts his second pass of the game. The 49ers create their third turnover and find themselves on the 49-yard line. 7-7.
The first down pass attempt is broken up with a dropped pick and Hill proceeds to hand the ball off to Glen Coffee for a 2-yard run. On 3rd and 8 Shaun Hill is sacked after HB Glen Coffee fails to pick up the blitz. On 4th and 15 the 49ers punt and the Falcons get a touchback.
With 2:20 to go in the third the Falcons start their drive the same way they always do--with no less than three broken tackles and a five-yard gain by Michael Turner, which is followed (as always) by a stuffing at the line by Justin Smith or Isaac Sopoaga, or in this case, both. On 3rd and 5 Atlanta runs the ball again and Aubrayo Franklin stops it at the line. Allen Rossum takes the punt and brings it to the 37-yard line.
Once again the 49ers set up shop, looking for the momentum they had on the opening drive. Another first down run goes for nothing and another second down run goes for nothing. 3rd and 8 as the 3rd quarter ends.
Tied at 7-7 the 49ers come out in what is likely a crucial third down, needing a conversion. Shaun Hill is hit as he throws however, and the team is forced to punt, going three and out. The ball is brought back to the 20 and Atlanta takes over. Turner picks up six yards on the first down run and then three yards on the second down run, bringing up 3rd and 1. He gets the call again before getting blown up by Justin Smith for a one-yard loss. The teams exchange three-and-outs.
The punt is almost blocked and the ball sails out of bounds at the 50-yard line. The San Francisco 49ers need to take advantage of this good field position with 6 minutes left in the game. Coffee picks up four yards, then no yards as the Niners continue to run for some reason. On 3rd and 6 Shaun Hill takes the snap from the shotgun and hands the ball off AGAIN to Glen Coffee who runs to the outside and gets one yard. At this point I have to think even Jimmy Raye wouldn't be running it this much. On the last three or four drives the 49ers have ran the ball every single play.
4:47 remains and the Atlanta Falcons line up at the 23-yard line. Justin Smith stops Turner for two yards on first down and Patrick Willis tackles him for a one yard loss on second. On third down the 49ers seem to blitz everybody including safeties which doesn't make any sense and the Falcons complete a touchdown pass to WR Marty Booker. There was literally nobody near him and he runs effortlessly to score. The Falcons are now up 14-7 with 3:25 to go in the game.
The 49ers set up at the 24, getting nothing on the first down run but Shaun Hill completes a pass to Josh Morgan for the first down on second down. 1st and 10 and it's Morgan again for a 12-yard gain over the middle. The game goes to the 2 minute warning, the 49ers on the 47 yard line. The next play is a pass broken up intended for WR Brandon Jones. On second down Glen Coffee gets a dumpoff and turns it into a first down. Moran Norris gets his pass broken up oin 1st down and on 2nd down another pass is broken up, bringing up the most crucial third down of the game.
On 3rd and 10 WR Brandon Jones picks up exactly 10 yards over the middle and on the next play drops the pass bringing up 2nd and 10. On 2nd down Shaun Hill throws to the end zone from the 24-yard line and Arnaz Battle brings down the catch but fails to land in bounds. On another 3rd and 10 the pass is thrown to TE Vernon Davis who gets past the line but is dragged two yards back. Madden, having very poor forward progress detection sets the 49ers up with 4th and 2. On the 4th down pass play Coffee drops a pass and it is called a fumble--the 49ers struggle but maintain posession with 49 seconds to go they are set up 1st and goal on the 10-yard line.
The first down pass is incomplete and the second down pass is perfectly caught by TE Delanie Walker for a touchdown. The 49ers tie the game 14-14. With 32 seconds to go the Falcons set up shop at the 32-yard line. The Falcons gain eight yards through the air before taking a timeout. On second down they go back to Finneran again for his fourth catch of the game and a first down, burning their second timeout. The next play is a pass to Jenkins but Nate Clements dives and breaks it up bringing up 2nd and 10. Atlanta gets 3rd and 2 as a receiver gets out of bounds on the next play. On 3rd and 2 Matt Ryan drops back and fires a laser.. right into the hands of Patrick Willis who stepped up and has room to run! He takes it-all-the-way-to-the-house for a TOUCHDOWN! The 49ers win the game with no time remaining on a Patrick Willis interception beating the Falcons 20-14!
Final Score - San Francisco 49ers 20, Atlanta Falcons 14
|1 (+3)||Turnovers||4 (-3)|
||3rd Down Conv.||7-11 (63%)
QB Shaun Hill 12/23 127 YDS 52% 2TD 1INT
QB Matt Ryan 15/23 241 YDS 65% 2TD 4INT
HB Glen Coffe 20 carries, 68 YDS, 3.4 AVG
HB Michael Turner 21 carries, 71 YDS, 3.3 AVG
WR Josh Morgan 3 REC, 40 YDS
WR Marty Booker 4 REC, 114 YDS 1TD
CB Nate Clements 1 SOLO, 3 INT
LE Jamaal Anderson 1 TFL, 1 INT
Post-Game: The 49ers performed less than stellar on offense and it was a close game throughout. The Falcons outgained the Niners but the defense still came up strong, forcing four turnovers. What the game came down to is exactly what I expect it to come down to tomorrow-defense defense defense. The offense did just enough to put a few points on the board and Manusky's unit came up big. I'm not saying that Matt Ryan is going to come out tomorrow and throw four picks, but I am saying if the 49ers win it, it could be on the strength of a Nate Clements of Patrick Willis interception. It isn't out of the realm of plausibility that the Niners dominate on defense and take a close game as I just watched on Madden. Should be a good game tomorrow.