Well, the big day is upon us. I read that the Falcons, being 4.5 point underdogs, are the biggest underdog ever, in any round, for a No. 1 seed since the current playoff system was put in place. That says a lot about what people think of the 49ers, but is also a bit of a slight at the Falcons. They're no slouches, but were definitely the beneficiaries of an easy schedule. Their No. 1 seeding had less to do with their dominance and more to do with a weakened division. The 49ers, as we all know, played a brutal schedule.
But, the Falcons are not to be taken lightly. They can score in a hurry. The 49ers have not played well from behind all season. We do have a tendency to come out flat, and I'm not simply referring to the W-W-L syndrome. If we come out flat against this offense, we'll be in trouble. But I can hardly imagine a scenario where the 49ers don't show up and play their best game. If they don't, it would have to be considered a monumental failure. When we play our best, I don't think anyone can beat us. If we do play great, and the Falcons play a great game and win, I'll have no complaints. I'm pretty confident going into this one, as you'll see in my preview piece....
NFCCG: 49ers at Falcons
The Falcons are ranked 21st against the run, and this for a team that won many games and played with a lead, forcing teams to pass more. They rank 29th in yards per carry against. We're going to run the ball on them. One thing that could be of concern is that they are the 4th-ranked red zone defense. You'll recall that we had trouble putting away an overmatched Miami in Week 14. They were the top red zone team on D. | Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore should prove hard to handle for overmatched Falcons defense (Malone)
Here's a good, pretty straight forward statistical comparison of the two teams. On paper, the 49ers have the better team. The Falcons have the home field advantage and we've had trouble in loud places. | 49ers vs Falcons - a statistical breakdown (BASG)
BASG takes a look at 5 matchups the Falcons could exploit against the 49ers. They also examine the 5 matchups designated as potential weaknesses from the Packers game. The 49ers won all 5 of those. | 5 matchups that might concern the 49ers (BASG)
Here;s a bit of history on the two teams and their three decades as division rivals. | 49ers-Falcons rewind: Go to 'White Shoes' (Sando)
Sando takes a look at Matt Ryan vs the 49ers defense. Home-field advantage? Using ESPN's Total QBR as the measuring stick, Ryan's five worst games came at home. | Matt Ryan, 49ers' D on collision course (Sando)
Don't worry, Roddy. They won't. You'll get some catches and your boys may win a jump ball here and there...but... | Roddy White to 49ers' D: Don't miss (NFL.com)
And this is the matchup that we've all been waiting for...The Falcons were eaten alive last weekend by Zach Miller. I'm not trying to insult Mr. Miller, but Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker present way bigger matchup problems. The Falcons play zone defense and the TEs and running backs out of the backfield have had success. | Davis, Walker hope to emerge from struggles against TE-friendly Falcons (Branch)
One area where the Falcons have a serious advantage is weapons in the passing game. Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez are a quarterbacks dream. The 49ers' secondary has done a great job at keeping games in front of them and preventing yards after the catch. They've especially done so when the opponent has no running game. Enter Falcons. | Falcons receivers present big challenge (SF Gate)
High-flying Falcons present big passing test (Scout.com)
Harbaugh: Good week of practices (Maiocco)
VIDEO - To 49ers, this weekend is a business trip to Atlanta (NBC Bay Area)
Falcons winning fans in a tough market (SF Gate)
Legal cloud over SF; In '99 over Atlanta (Killion)
KNBR conversation: Tony Dungy on 49ers (SF Gate)
And here is something that has arisen that I haven't weighed in on. People who are commenting on it, without knowing any details, specifically ones blaming the victim, should just stop. Michael Crabtree is innocent until proven guilty. People should extend that same courtesy to the woman involved instead of slandering her. | Michael Crabtree's lawyer: "We have confidence in the process" (Branch)
Since Colin Kaepernick's record-breaking game against the Green Bay Packers he's become a hot commodity. Every offer under the sun has been thrown his way. | Kaepernick expected to cash in (SF Gate)
As Kaepernick's star continues to rise, people are going to demand more and more stories like this one accompanied by pics of him and his turtle. | Turlock trip reveals Kaepernick's roots (SF Gate)
Dashon Goldson fined $10,000, admits "It was a good call by the ref" (Pro Football Talk)
49ers may open stadium without a name (SF Gate)
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Being a Sheep
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