We’ve turned the page from the San Francisco 49ers loss to the Atlanta Falcons this past Sunday. The Niners came out flat, let Atlanta hang around, and when you do that at the highest level, you’re going to get bet. Plenty of other factors went into the loss, but it all comes back to San Francisco not handling business.
In the latest NFL’s power rankings, the 49ers fell to No. 4 after their most recent loss. Here is the blurb:
Previous rank: No. 2
The 49ers now have three losses: Two on game-ending field goals, and one -- Sunday’s stunning 29-22 setback to the Falcons -- on a Julio Jones touchdown catch with two seconds to play. It was a painful letdown game for Kyle Shanahan’s team, but all is not lost. The Niners surrendered a temporary grip on the No. 1 seed and division lead, but the NFC West and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs can still be theirs with wins over the Rams and Seahawks in the final two weeks. What Sunday’s loss to the Falcons did was remove any margin for error from the process. The biggest bright spot on Sunday was George Kittle, whose dominance, both as a receiver and a blocker, can be accurately described as Gronk-esque. We’re talking peak Gronk. Kittle set a career high against the Falcons with 13 catches (on 17 targets!) for 134 yards. This is a bad man.
It’ll be interesting to see how the 49ers comeback and reset in their final two games. I don’t think there’s any doubt that the team will come out and be ready for the Rams. In the postgame, when he was answering questions, George Kittle hasn’t had that look in his eye or tone in his voice all season. You could tell he was upset. It seemed as if Kittle was frustrated with himself, his teammates, and the lethargic attitude the team had all game. Kittle didn’t call anyone out, but it came off like he wanted more out of his teammates. From everything I know about Kittle, he’d much rather catch two passes and win than get the lion share of targets and lose.
The difference in the locker room after a win and a loss is night and day. After Sunday’s loss, you saw plenty of players hurry and get out of the locker room. You even saw Emmanuel Sanders and wide receiver coach Wes Welker getting into it. I want to be clear here, that’s not news. It is common in a locker room to see frustrations and emotions spill over after losses. These guys are competitors, and when you put as much work into a game as they do, coming out on the wrong end is disappointing.
Now we go. Now we find out what this team is made of. San Francisco is banged up, but so is every other team. There shouldn’t be any lack of motivation, but Arik Armstead not making the Pro Bowl could be the new chip on the shoulder of the defense. I get the feeling the 49ers are going to take their frustrations out on the Rams.
Look at what the Saints did to the Colts on Monday night football at their house. Completely shut them out. A week before, New Orleans had no answer for San Francisco, as the Niners did whatever they wanted to offensively. The 49ers brought their A-game in Week 14. The same can’t be said for Week 15. No team plays 100% every week. The last two seasons, the Patriots lost to the Dolphins in Miami. In 2011 and 2012 the 49ers lost to the Rams and Cardinals, who both were struggling to get to .500 in December. San Francisco will be fine.