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49ers snap count vs. Falcons: About A.J. Jenkins, the nickel and special teams

We take a look at the 49ers snap count in their 28-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons, and what some of the lineup decisions might indicate

Chris Graythen

The 49ers are off to the Super Bowl following a 28-24 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game! It was a wild game that saw the 49ers storm back from a 17-0 deficit, keyed by avoiding the panic button in the first half.

We have the snap count numbers following Sunday's game, and we can take note of a few things. The most notable might very well be Chad Hall getting a snap, while A.J. Jenkins got none. Jenkins and Alex Smith were the only active players to not receive a snap.

While we cannot say with 100% certainty what this means, it does not strike me as a good thing. Jenkins has received little playing time, and in his limited time he has not made the best of impressions. It is way too early to make any proclamations about his future as an NFL player, but I do think it is safe to say he has his work cut out for him this offseason.

The 49ers went with their nickel defense for much of Sunday's game. The opening drive featured the nickel, but they proceeded to mix in some of their base 3-4 from time to time. They did not need to show a whole lot of the base defense because the nickel was doing plenty good work shutting down the run. It struggled against the pass throughout the first half, but adjustments were made in the second half. Matt Ryan was 18 of 24 for 271 yards in the first half, and 12 of 18 for 125 yards in the second half.

Ryan was finding some spots here and there in the second half, but there was a dramatic difference in the Falcons passing attack. A perfect example was the dump-off to Tony Gonzalez well short of the first down marker on third down deep in their own territory.

Lost amidst the commotion of the season has been the return to form of the 49ers coverage units. Since the loss of Demarcus Dobbs, Darcel McBath has been the leading special teams player in terms of snaps. The primary unit consists of McBath, Bruce Miller, Anthony Dixon, Michael Wilhoite, C.J. Spillman, Tavares Gooden, Larry Grant and Tramaine Brock. They fly under the radar, but that group has done some great work for the 49ers in the second half of the season as the punt coverage unit in particular has kept teams backed up plenty deep.

You can read through the entire Gamebook HERE (PDF).

Offense had 55 total plays.

# of Plays


55 (100%)

Jonathan Goodwin, Joe Staley, Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, Alex Boone, Colin Kaepernick

54 (98%)

Vernon Davis

48 (87%)

Michael Crabtree

44 (80%)

Frank Gore

36 (65%)

Bruce Miller, Randy Moss

28 (51%)

Delanie Walker

11 (20%)

Ted Ginn Jr.

10 (18%)

LaMichael James

3 (5%)

Leonard Davis

2 (4%)

Daniel Kilgore

1 (2%)

Anthony Dixon, Garrett Celek, Chad Hall

Defense had 67 total plays.

# of Plays


67 (100%)

Dashon Goldson, Tarell Brown, Aldon Smith, Carlos Rogers, Donte Whitner

66 (99%)

Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman

64 (96%)

Justin Smith

63 (94%)

Ahmad Brooks

61 (91%)

Ray McDonald

48 (72%)

Chris Culliver

19 (28%)

Isaac Sopoaga

7 (10%)

Ricky Jean-Francois

3 (4%)

Clark Haggans

2 (3%)

Will Tukuafu, Perrish Cox

1 (1%)

C.J. Spillman

Here is the special teams breakdown for the entire team:

# of Plays


16 (67%)

Darcel McBath

15 (62%)

Bruce Miller, Anthony Dixon, Michael Wilhoite, C.J. Spillman, Tavares Gooden, Larry Grant

14 (58%)

Tramaine Brock

11 (46%)

Will Tukuafu

10 (42%)

Delanie Walker, Daniel Kilgore, David Akers

8 (33%)

Brian Jennings, Andy Lee

7 (29%)

Dashon Goldson

5 (21%)

Jonathan Goodwin, Joe Staley, Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, Alex Boone, LaMichael James, Leonard Davis, Garrett Celek, Perrish Cox

4 (17%)

Tarell Brown, Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis, Ahmad Brooks, Ray McDonald, Isaac Sopoaga, Ricky Jean Francois

3 (12%)

NaVorro Bowman

2 (8%)

Chris Culliver, Ted Ginn Jr.

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