Welcome back for another week of San Francisco 49ers football! Previously I'd described it as an exciting week, but I won't try and push that for this game. The 49ers host the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, with the game airing on FOX and kicking off at 1:05 p.m. PT. The announcers will be Chris Myers and Ronde Barber, with Jennifer Hale on the sideline.
The 49ers are a mess right now, and there is one oh so notable storyline for this game: Blaine Gabbert. The one-time first round pick makes his first NFL regular season start since he was a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars back in 2013. He got some garbage time work last season when the 49ers were getting pounded by the Denver Broncos, but otherwise he has only played in preseason action with the 49ers.
The 49ers benched Colin Kaepernick following back-to-back poor performances against the Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams. He was clearly struggling, but one has to wonder what he can gain from the benching. My own belief is that he has played his last down with the 49ers, and will be released or traded in the offseason. It is possible this could be a legitimate "breather" and he'll be back, but with a decision to be made on an $11.9 million base salary, I see them not risking injury the rest of the way.
I don't expect a whole lot from Gabbert this season, but this Falcons game is at least modestly intriguing. The Falcons do not have much in the way of a pass rush, ranked No. 30 in Football Outsiders' adjusted sack rate. Gabbert's worst enemy is pressure, so removing that to some extent would be a big plus. Of course, the 49ers rank No. 30 in offensive line adjusted sack rate, so I suppose something has to give.
The Falcons have generally found a way to play down to most of their crappier opponents. They are coming off a 23-20 overtime home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The previous week they went on the road to beat the Tennessee Titans 10-7. The Titans are one of the worst teams in the league, and were rolling out Zach Mettenberger due to Mariota suffering a knee injury.
The line on this game opened at Falcons -3, but once the 49ers traded Vernon Davis and benched Colin Kaepernick, it climbed to a touchdown. You can find it at 7.5-points in a couple sportsbooks, but most have it at a touchdown. I am staying away from this in my SuperContest picks, but it is intriguing nonetheless. The Falcons could very well put it all together and roll the 49ers. They are not nearly as good as the unbeaten team earlier this year, but they are certainly better than the 49ers. I could see the 49ers hanging close, I could see the Falcons blowing this one wide open. I'll pick the close game for purposes of no money against the spread picks, but there will be no putting my money where my mouth is on this one.
Nuts and bolts
Location: Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
Game time: Sunday, November 8, 1:05 p.m. PT
TV channel: FOX
Online streaming: NFL Game Pass on replay
49ers Radio: 680-AM, 107.7 (Ted Robinson, Tim Ryan) | Full listings
Announcers: Chris Myers, Ronde Barber, Jennifer Hale
Spanish Radio: KTRB 860-AM (Jesus Zarate, Luis Landero)
Odds: 49ers +7
Matchup history: 65-63-3
Enemy blog: The Falcoholic
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49ers regular season schedule
Week 1: vs. Minnesota Vikings - 49ers 20, Vikings 3
Week 2: @ Pittsburgh Steelers - Steelers 43, 49ers 18
Week 3: @ Arizona Cardinals - Cardinals 47, 49ers 7
Week 4: vs. Green Bay Packers - Packers 17, 49ers 3
Week 5: @ New York Giants Giants 30, 49ers 27
Week 6: vs. Baltimore Ravens - 49ers 25, Ravens 20
Week 7: vs. Seattle Seahawks - Seahawks 20, 49ers 3
Week 8: @ St. Louis Rams - Rams 27, 49ers 6
Week 9: vs. Atlanta Falcons - Sunday, November 8, 1:05 p.m. FOX
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: @ Seattle Seahawks - Sunday, November 22, 1:25 p.m. FOX
Week 12: vs. Arizona Cardinals - Sunday, November 29, 1:05 p.m. FOX
Week 13: @ Chicago Bears - Sunday, December December 6, 10:00 a.m. FOX
Week 14: @ Cleveland Browns - Sunday, December 13, 10:00 a.m. FOX
Week 15: vs. Cincinnati Bengals - Sunday, December 20, 5:30 p.m. NBC (SNF)
Week 16: @ Detroit Lions - Sunday, December 27, 10:00 a.m. FOX
Week 17: vs. St. Louis Rams - Sunday, January 3, 1:25 p.m. FOX