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San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons: A Prospector's Guide

49ers_logo_medium  vs.  Th_falcons_icon_medium

The Prospector's Guide returns after a rather crazy day yesterday and early this morning.  It was a whole lot of Michael Crabtree on the mind and it's kind of nice to have a post looking just at this weekend's huge matchup with Atlanta.  Nothing is guaranteed yet, but I'm fairly certain we won't see Michael Crabtree on the field this Sunday.  So, it's just another football game.

The 49ers host the Atlanta Falcons this weekend in what will be the 74th meeting between the two teams, dating back to 1966. San Francisco holds a 44-28-1 advantage over Atlanta in the series. The 49ers have an 26-10 record when playing the Falcons at home, which includes victories in 12 of the past 14 games at Candlestick Park.

Last week, the 49ers recorded their first shutout since the 2001 season with a 35-0 victory over the St. Louis Rams. In that game, San Francisco’s defense scored two touchdowns and the special teams unit registered one score, while QB Shaun Hill completed two touchdown passes on the day for a passer rating of 104.9. LB Patrick Willis accounted for one of the scores when he intercepted a QB Kyle Boller pass and returned it 24 yards for the score. Willis also posted a career-high 2.5 sacks, becoming just the 3rd NFL player since sacks became an official stat in 1982 to return an INT for a TD and record 2.5-or-more sacks in a single game.

The 49ers have won 8 of their past 11 games, dating back to 2008.

49ers-Falcons Connections
• 49ers LB coach Greg Manusky was a teammate of TE Tony Gonzalez with the Kansas City Chiefs from 1997-99, while 49ers OC Jimmy Raye served as the OC for the Chiefs from 1998-00. Gonzalez posted a career-high 11 touchdowns in 1999, followed by the second-highest receiving total (1,203) of his career in 2000.
• 49ers secondary coach Johnnie Lynn and Falcons head coach Mike Smith coached together for Tampa Bay in 1994-95.
• 49ers special teams coach Al Everest and Falcons LB coach Glen Pires coached together for the Arizona Cardinals .
• Falcons defensive assistant Joe Danna was a WR/safeties coach at Central Michigan when 49ers T Joe Staley played there (2004-06).

FORMER FALCONS - CB Allen Rossum played for Atlanta , earning Pro Bowl honors in 2004 ... 49ers OC Jimmy Raye had two stints with the Falcons, serving as WR coach from 1980-82, and then again from 1987-89 ... 49ers QB coach Mike Johnson served as a WR coach with the Falcons in 2002, and then as a QB coach from 2003-05.

FORMER 49ERS - QB coach Bill Musgrave was a quarterback with San Francisco from 1991-94 and a member of the 49ers’ Super Bowl XXIX winning team in ‘94 ... G Harvey Dahl played with San Francisco in 2006 and was on the practice squad in 2005 ... OC Mike Mularkey was a ninth-round draft selection by 49ers in 1983.

TROJAN TIES – 49ers G Chilo Rachal was teammates of Falcons T Sam Baker at USC. Rachal was chosen with the 39th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, while Baker was selected with the 21st overall pick in ‘08.

TIDES ARE TURNING – RB Glen Coffee played at Alabama with Falcons QB John Parker Wilson from 2005-07.

BAYOU BROTHERS – 49ers S Mark Roman played at LSU with Falcons C Todd McClure, while 49ers DT Ricky Jean Francois and CB Curtis Taylor also played at LSU with Falcons CB Chevis Jackson.

Series Highlights
Matchups: 73
Series Record: 49ers lead series 44-28-1
49ers Home Record vs. Falcons: Falcons lead series 26-10
First Meeting: 10/16/66, 49ers win, 44-7, at Atlanta
Last Meeting: 11/4/07, Falcons win, 20-16, at Atlanta
Current Streak: Lost 2
Longest 49ers Win Streak: 5 - 3 Times (1966-68, 1988-90, 1996-98)
Longest Falcons Win Streak: 4 (12/16/79-9/20/81)
Most 49ers Points: 56 (10/18/92): 56-17, at San Francisco
Most Falcons Points: 39 (10/13/91), 39-34, at Los Angeles
49ers Shutouts: 4 Times; Last; 20-0 (11/23/86), at San Francisco
Falcons Shutouts: 1 Time; 7-0 (10/9/77)

At Atlanta, GA, November 4, 2007

The Atlanta Falcons handed the 49ers their 6th consecutive loss with a 20-16 victory at the Georgia Dome. The 49ers 2nd half comeback attempt was halted by two drives deep in Atlanta territory that ended in FGs rather than TDs, and two turnovers that were converted into 6 Atlanta points. Atlanta converted a fumble into a FG and a Smith INT at the San Francisco 15-yd. line into another FG.

After falling behind 14-7 at halftime, the 49ers opened the 3rd quarter with a drive to the Atlanta 31-yd. line to set up a 49-yd. field goal by PK Joe Nedney. The 49ers appeared to get a break on the next series when S Michael Lewis intercepted a QB Joe Harrington pass inside Atlanta territory to give the 49ers a 1st down at the Atlanta 33-yd. line. The 49ers moved to the 14-yd. line before being forced to settle for a FG to make it a one point game at 14-13. San Francisco’s next two drives ended in turnovers.

The 49ers defense held Atlanta following a QB Alex Smith INT that gave Atlanta a 1st down at the San Francisco 40-yd. line. Then Falcons DE John Abraham forced a fumble on a sack of Smith, allowing the Falcons start a drive at the 36-yd. line. That turnover was converted into a 33-yd. FG by PK Morten Andersen. The 49ers responded on the ensuing drive and seemed poised to take the lead after reaching the Atlanta 1-yd. line. Smith completed a short pass to TE Vernon Davis down to the 1-yd. line, setting up a 3rd-and-goal situation. RB Michael Robinson was stuffed on the next play for a 3-yd. loss, and the 49ers were forced to settle for a 22-yd. Nedney field goal to close the Atlanta lead to 17-16.

With 2:29 to play and the 49ers backed at their own 3-yd. line, Smith was intercepted by CB DeAngelo Hall.  Hall’s 18-yd. return to the 15-yd. line set up a 27-yd. FG by Andersen for a 20-16 Atlanta lead. San Francisco got the ball back with 1:10 to play, but Smith threw his third INT of the day to clinch the win. The 49ers opened the game with an impressive 59-yd. drive that was culminated with a 9-yd. TD run by RB Maurice Hicks. Atlanta countered with a 70-yd. TD drive to even the score and then took the lead in the 2nd quarter after converting a 4th down play and a 3rd-and-short to set up a TD and a 14-7 halftime lead. Robinson and Hicks filled in at running back for an injured Frank Gore (ankle).

2009 Statistics

49ERS (rank) FALCONS (rank)
3-1 (1st NFCW) Record 2-1 (2nd NFCS)
25.5 (9th) Points per game 19.0 (t-20th)
264.0 (28th) Total Offense 303.0 (23rd)
107.8 (15th) Rushing Offense 92.3 (25th)
156.3 (28th) Passing Offense 210.7 (20th)
31:03 (10th) Possession Avg 27:32 (26th)
13.3 (2nd) Points allowed/gm 17.7 (8th)
284.0 (6th) Total Defense 381.3 (30th)
73.8 (4th) Rushing Defense 136.0 (25th)
210.3 (10th) Passing Defense 245.3 (27th)
11 (t-6th) Sacks 5 (t-26th)
48.1 (4th) Punting Avg (Gross) 41.0 (27th)
+5 (t-4th) Turnover Differential +3 (8th)