The San Francisco 49ers face the Atlanta Falcons Sunday afternoon as Kyle Shanahan gets a crack at his old team. We’ll get to see what the Niners defense looks like without a few key players. One thing I’m interested in is how aggressive Shanahan is on offense. As Matt Chambers of the Falcoholic—today’s hilarious—knows, Kyle can be a bit vengeful. Here are today’s questions.
1) Were Falcon’s fans sad to see Shanahan go, and is there still bitterness towards him after the Super Bowl loss?
Yes, and yes. Like a relationship in high school, things were complicated and ended very, very badly. Was Shanahan the biggest reason the team made it to the Super Bowl? Yes. Was he the biggest reason they lost? Probably.
In his first season with the Falcons, things started off strong. Near the halfway mark of the season, the offense fell apart. Other teams called it predictable. Shanahan could not muster more than one or two touchdowns regardless of the competition. There was a concerning number of player meetings and rumors about a conflict between Shanahan and players. Even Week 1 of 2016 had fans wishing for another offensive coordinator. Then things lined up, and everything was perfect until late into the final game. I both hate him and would welcome him back with open arms, as he’s responsible for the best and worst moments in franchise history.
Of course, even if Shanahan returned, no way any fan could trust him to close out the big game.
2) The 49ers come into this game pretty banged up. What are the Falcons’ biggest advantages or areas where they can get the best of San Francisco in this one?
Advantages? For the Falcons? That doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes the defense is OK.
The Falcons just lost starters Calvin Ridley and Desmond Trufant to injured reserve, creating some major depth issues on both sides of the ball. The only real positive I can even see is the offensive line got first-round guard Chris Lindstrom back last week. But Dirk Koetter is still calling plays, so the offense can only be so good.
3) Statistically, Matt Ryan and Jimmy Garoppolo are having similar seasons. When it’s close, the tie goes to the better-looking quarterback. With that said, do you think Garoppolo can reach Ryan’s 2016 season in Shanahan’s offense?
How dare you. Matt Ryan is a very handsome quarterback with features chiseled out of granite and eyes so deep you could drown in them. I’m going to guess probably not. It would be a *lot* to expect another quarterback to match Ryan’s 2016 season. He threw for just under 5,000 yards, 38 touchdowns to only seven interceptions, 9.3 yards per attempt, and a 117.1 rating. Projecting out Cassel Jr. this year, he’s on pace for just under 4,000 yards, 8.3 yards per attempt, 31 touchdowns, and 14 picks. Not that there is anything wrong with Tom Brady’s backup, and he most certainly has some space to grow above Matt Cassel, but those numbers were ridiculous. It is also tough to find a Julio Jones to really open up other options in the passing game.
With that said, he almost certainly has the better game on Sunday.
4) Once upon a time, your head coach and my defensive coordinator both coached for the Seahawks. They both smartened up and moved on since, but both could have new jobs after this season, for very different reasons. Where do you see Dan Quinn after this year?
Quinn should eventually head back to a defensive coordinator position but probably after taking some time off. Sure, he’s bald, but he’s still a pretty good head coach. He struggled with the in-game decisions, helping the 49ers get a win back in 2015 in what SB Nation called the worst coaching decision ever. The bigger problem is outside of Shanahan, who was a questionable hire in 2015 after his short stint with the Cleveland Browns, he has not hired or developed a single successful coach. He could probably be good in an assistant head coach/defensive coordinator role.
5) ____ has to happen for the Falcons to win?
We slip into a multiverse where the Falcons can draft, hire smart coaches, and don’t overpay a bunch of trash players every single year. Instead, we’re in the multiverse where the team pays Vic Beasley $13 million for one season, hire Dirk Koetter to waste another season of Ryan and Julio and misuse everyone on defense. This is a poorly coached team missing key players traveling across the country. There is no hope.