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

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Another week, another 49ers controversy (of sorts). It seems like we've had some controversial story each week and this week is no different. The firing of Jimmy Raye and promotion of Mike Johnson has the 49ers heading into Atlanta with all sorts of question marks. Throw in an 0-3 start and this is a team with all sorts of turmoil.

We have our weekly FanPost over at the opposing team's site to answer questions about the 49ers, but this week it's a bit more difficult to answer questions about the 49ers offense. We get the usual questions about Alex Smith, Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, and so forth. However, given that the offense will see some changes this week, how exactly do we answer questions about how the 49ers offense will perform on Sunday? While the playbook won't be changing we can all expect to see some sorts of changes in the weekly scheming.

I've posted the usual information about this week's matchup after the jump, but I'm curious if anybody can really predict with any certainty what will happen this week. The 49ers have shown an ability under Mike Singletary to get up for big matchups, whether it be the Colts, Vikings and division-winning Cardinals last year, or the Saints this year. The Falcons are coming off a big win and are officially a big dog in the NFC for this season. A lot of 49ers fans think the 49ers are going to get slaughtered, but is it possible they get up for this big name opponent?

San Francisco travels to Atlanta for a Week 4 matchup with the Falcons in the Georgia Dome. This will be the third time in four weeks that the Niners have played on the road to start the 2010 regular season. The 49ers will look to avenge last season's home loss to the Falcons in the 75th meeting between the two clubs. San Francisco leads the overall record 44-29-1 and holds the scoring advantage over the Falcons in the Georgia Dome, 350-271.

The 49ers offense will make its debut in Atlanta under new offensive coordinator Mike Johnson. Johnson was the the quarterbacks coach for the Falcons from 2003-05. He began with the Falcons in 2002 as the wide receivers coach. 

The Niners dropped to 0-3 on the season after falling to Kansas City, 31-10. In that game, RB Frank Gore set a career-high with 102 receiving yards on 9 receptions

49ers-Falcons Connections
49ers offensive coordinator Mike Johnson was the quarterbacks coach with the Falcons from 2003-05. He also served as Atlanta's wide receivers coach during the 2002 season.

49ers assistant offensive line coach Ray Brown played for the Washington Redskins while current Falcons quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave held the same position with Washington in 2005. 

49ers wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan coached with Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong and linebackers coach Glenn Pires while with the Miami Dolphins in 2004. 

49ers secondary coach Vance Joseph played for Falcons defensive line coach Ray Hamilton while with the Jets in 1995. 

49ers offensive line coach Mike Solari coached with Falcons secondary coach Tim Lewis while with the Seattle Seahawks in 2009.were teammates of Falcons LB Coy Wire with the Buffalo Bills

FALCONS-NOR CAL CONNECTIONS: Falcons S Thomas DeCoud (2003-2007) and TE Tony Gonzalez (1994-96) played at the University of California, Berkley ... Falcons CB Christopher Owens played at San Jose State University from 2005-07 ... Falcons OLB Coy Wire (1998-00) and OT Will Svitek (2001-04) played at Stanford University. 

49ERS-GEORGIA CONNECTIONS: 49ers DT Demetric Evans played at the University of Georgia from 1998-2000 ... 49ers LB Takeo Spikes was born in Sandersville, GA, and earned Georgia Player of the Year honors as a senior at Washington County HS ... 49ers assistant director of football public relations Ryan Moore, served as the Falcons communications coordinator from 2005-06.HOOK ‘EM HORNS - 49ers CB Tarell Brown and Falcons OG Justin Blalock were teammates at the University of Texas from 2003-05. 

FORMER 49ERS: Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey was a 9th round draft pick by the 49ers in 1983 ... Falcons OG Harvey Dahl was on the 49ers roster from 2005-06 ... Falcons LS Joe Zelenka was on the 49ers during the 1999 season ... Falcons quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave played for the 49ers from 1991-94.

CAVALIERS CALLING - 49ers LB Ahmad Brooks and Falcons RB Jason Snelling were teammates while at the University of Virginia from 2004-05.

BUFFALO BROTHERS - 49ers CB Nate Clements and LB Takeo Spikes were teammates of Falcons LB Coy Wire with the Buffalo Bills. 

TROJAN TIES - 49ers G Chilo Rachal and S Taylor Mays played at USC with Falcons OT Sam Baker from 2006-07. 

SUN DEVIL DUO - 49ers WR Kyle Williams and Falcons OLB Robert James were teammates at Arizona State University from 2006-07. 

REBELS AT HEART - 49ers LB Patrick Willis and Falcons DT Peria Jerry were teammates while at the University of Mississippi from 2005-06. 

BUCKEYE BROTHERS - 49ers WR Ted Ginn and QB Troy Smith played at Ohio State University with Falcons WR Michael Jenkins during the 2004 season. Jenkins also played at Ohio State with 49ers CB Nate Clements from 2000-02. 

"SOONER" THAN LATER - 49ers S Reggie Smith was a teammate of Falcons CB Dominique Franks and MLB Curtis Lofton were all teammates at the University of Oklahoma during the 2007 season. 

DUCKS FLY TOGETHER - 49ers T Adam Snyder and Falcons TE Justin Peelle were teammates at the University of Oregon from 2000-01. 

HOOK ‘EM HORNS - 49ers CB Tarell Brown and Falcons OG Justin Blalock were teammates at the University of Texas from 2003-05. 

WILDCAT CONNECTION - 49ers RB Brian Westbrook and Falcons WR Brian Finneran were teammates at Villanova University during the 1997 season. 

Series Highlights
Matchups: 74
Series Record: 49ers lead series 44-29-1
49ers Road Record vs. Falcons: Series tied 18-18-1
First Meeting: 10/16/66, 49ers win, 44-7, at Atlanta
Last Meeting: 10/11/09, Falcons win, 45-10, at San Francisco
Current Streak: Lost 3
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: 45 (10/11/09), 45-10, at San Francisco
49ers Shutouts: 4; 20-0 (11/23/86), at San Francisco
Falcons Shutouts
: 1; 7-0 (10/9/77), at San Francisco

At San Francisco, CA, October 11, 2009

The San Francisco 49ers encountered their first big stumbling block of the season as they were handled by the visiting Atlanta Falcons, 45-10. While Atlanta produced 477 yards of offense, the 49ers could muster just 279 yards of their own and uncharacteristically lost the turnover battle 3-2.

The visitors got on the board quickly with a 7-yard TD run by RB Michael Turner, followed less than five minutes later by a 31-yard TD strike from QB Matt Ryan to WR Roddy White. The 49ers battled back late in the 1st qarter. as QB Shaun Hill completed a 61-yard pass to WR Josh Morgan, setting up a 2-yard TD scamper by RB Glen Coffee. After stopping the Falcons on their next possession, the 49ers drove 41 yards and K Joe Nedney drilled a 39-yard FG. Sadly, those three points would be San Francisco's last of the day. Atlanta rounded out the first half with a 90-yard TD pass from Ryan to White and two Turner scoring dives, the first from 3 yards out and the second from 1. The Niners halftime deficit was 25, as the Falcons led, 35-10.

Despite the improved play of their defense, San Francisco's offense continued to struggle in the second half and finished the day with seven 3-and-outs. The Falcons controlled the clock in the second half, holding the ball for more than 19 minutes, posting another 10 points. In the 3rd quarter, the Niners saw a positive moment turn into a negative one as CB Dre' Bly interecepted a Ryan pass, only to have it stripped away by the Falcons White. Seven plays later, Atlanta added 3 more points on a 40-yard FG by K Jason Elam. The final points of the game came after Ryan directed the Falcons on a 13-play, 73-yard drive, capping it himself by plunging into the endzone from the 1 yard line.

2010 Statistics

49ERS (rank) FALCONS (rank)
0-3 (4th NFCW) Record 2-1 (t-1st NFCS)
12.7 (31st) Points per game 25.7 (t-6th)
310.3 (20th) Total Offense 385.3 (6th)
78.0 (27th) Rushing Offense 160.3 (2nd)
232.3 (13th) Passing Offense 225.0 (16th)
28:45 (21st) Possession Avg 35:26 (1st)
29.0 (t-31st) Points allowed/gm 15.3 (6th)
328.7 (17th) Total Defense 339.7 (21st)
111.3 (15th) Rushing Defense 101.3 (12th)
217.3 (t-15th) Passing Defense 238.3 (22nd)
3 (t-27th) Sacks 7 (t-7th)
45.2 (11th) Punting Avg (Gross) 39.0 (29th)
-5 (30th) Turnover Differential +4 (t-3rd)