The first quarter was a slow one, as both the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons punted on the first three possessions of the game. The Niners finished the quarter with a 16-play, 72-yard drive that took over eight minutes off the clock. That drive continued into the second quarter as Jimmy Garoppolo converted a third and short by sneaking for a first down. The drive was capped off by a two-yard touchdown by Raheem Mostert to make it 7-0. Who paved the way? Who else?
George Kittle providing free public transportation. What a nice guy. pic.twitter.com/maTunGEisI— KP (@KP_Show) December 15, 2019
Kittle was laughing as he blocked the Falcons’ safety into the ground. Think he enjoys playing the game?
The team looked loose early on, and there were no signs of any letdown or “trap game.”
Atlanta did have some success through the air on the next drive. The Falcons answered with a five-yard touchdown as Julio Jones had a couple of nice catches on the drive, and that tied the game 7-7. The one thing the 49ers couldn’t do was allow the Falcons lone perimeter threat to beat them. On that drive, he did.
The 49ers went three-and-out on two drives in the first half. What did they have in common? No Mostert on the field. I don’t know if it’s as simple as him being on the field or not, but Mostert’s the one constant.
The Falcons got a field goal on their next drive after a pass interference to Jones was reviewed in the end zone but not overturned as the referees said Emmanuel Moseley holding Jones’ did not impede Jones from catching the ball.
On the following possession, the 49ers had a chance to score before the half, and a 37-yard run by Tevin Coleman followed by a 20-yard throw down the field to Kittle put the 49ers just outside of the red zone. On the first play inside the ten, both receivers went to block the same player, and that prevented Kittle from scoring. Then, on third down, Garoppolo woefully underthrew Kittle in the end zone on an incomplete pass. A Robbie Gould field goal made it 10-10.
The Falcons recovered an onside kick out of halftime, but Atlanta didn’t have enough men on one side, which resulted in a penalty and gave San Francisco the ball. The 49ers ended up punting, but Atlanta not having the ball at midfield was critical. After trading punts, the 49ers had 3rd & 6, but a false start by Mike McGlinchey made it 3rd & 11 and ended the drive. Gould was good from 46-yards out to give the 49ers a 13-10 lead. After a punt to start the fourth quarter, Atlanta had punted on five of their seven possessions. There was plenty of talk, even on here, on if we should be worried about the 49ers defense. I’d say no.
It was a strange day for the offense. There weren’t a lot of targets for the receivers. Samuel had a key drop. Sanders was hardly involved. It was a heavy dose of Kittle, and that’s about it. The 49ers caught a big break on special teams after Ross Dwelley forced a fumble on a punt return Kyle Juszczyk recovered to give San Francisco the ball inside their five-yard line. Two plays later, Jimmy to Juice made it 19-10. Gould missed the extra point, however.
Atlanta scored on the next drive after a
terrible questionable pass interference call on Julio Jones. That wasn’t the only reason San Francisco gave up points on the drive, but when you gift the offense over 30 yards, it makes life a lot easier. The Falcons scored to make it 19-17. San Francisco needed to answer on the next drive, and they did what they do best, keep the ball moving and the clock running under four minutes. The 49ers had 3rd & 4 but Kittle fumbled the ball out of bounds. That was a critical mistake as it prevented the offense from converting. Gould kicked a 43-yard field goal to make it 22-17, Niners.
That gave Atlanta 1:48 to score a touchdown to win the game. The Falcons didn’t waste much time at all to get into 49ers territory. Atlanta had 1st & goal with ten seconds left in the game. Austin Hooper had a chance to win it, but the ball hit the ground. You, me, and everyone watching had no clue what the call would be. The refs made the correct call. That gave the Falcons one last chance with five seconds to play. On the next play, Julio caught a pass that was once again reviewed. This time, it was a touchdown. That made it 23-22. The frustrating part on that play was the game was on the line and Jones ran underneath with zero resistance. Not just any wideout, Julio Jones.
There will be a lot of finger pointing on this one, from Kittle’s fumble to some of the other playcalls. As it stands, the 49ers lost 29-22 on a final touchdown by Atlanta. Onto the Rams.