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49ers carve up the Falcons, force four turnovers in 31-13 win

The offense faced little resistance today.

Atlanta Falcons v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The 49ers couldn’t have started worse as JaMycal Hasty fumbled the opening kickoff. The defense appeared to give up a touchdown, but the call was reversed after it was reviewed. Then, after a Fred Warner pass breakup and Jaquiski Tartt jumping a flat route, the Niners held the Falcons out of the end zone on four straight downs.

Many will say, “it’s Atlanta,” but those are the types of stops that resonate with defenses. It’s how you play, not always who you play. On the following drive, missed tackles from Tartt and Josh Norman on a 3rd & 6 extended a drive that allowed a Falcons field goal to make it 3-0, Atlanta.

Once they had breathing room, the 49ers' offense drove 11 plays for 79 yards. They only faced two third downs but failed to pick up a 3rd & 8 after an unblocked defender forced Jimmy Garoppolo to throw the ball before he wanted to. A 3-yard field goal from Robbie Gould tied the score, 3-3.

An Arden Key sack on third down would end the Falcons' next possession. The 49ers had an opportunity to open to open the floodgates with the momentum they had built up. Eight plays and 77 yards later, and the 49ers go another drive where they only reach third down until the drive's final play. Kyle Juszczyk ran it in from six yards out on a nifty design and some impressive blocking from Trent Williams to give San Francisco a 10-3 lead.

Thanks to an offside call on 3rd & 5 by Key, the Falcons would reach midfield on their ensuing drive. Atlanta would convert another third down to move into 49er territory. On the following third down, Key made up for an earlier mistake with a sack on Ryan.

Key was flagged for a roughing the passer call because he drove Ryan into the ground. Key left his feet, which forced his momentum in that direction of Ryan. You have to admit that’s a lousy call no matter which side you are on.

On the next play, Ambry Thomas was mossed in the end zone by Russell Gage for a touchdown. He waited on the ball to come down, and that was a mistake. The Falcons tied the score at 10. A 55-yard field goal attempt turned into seven points for Atlanta.

The 49ers answered with a 32-yard pass to Deebo Samuel. Garoppolo had all day to throw up until this point. Brandon Aiyuk drew pass interference on third down, which gave the offense a first down at the 28-yard line with just under two minutes to play. Deebo would run it in from ten yards out to give the Niners a 17-10 lead at halftime.

Nick Bosa recorded his 15th sack of the season and forced a fumble that Fred Warner would recover. After big plays to Kittle and Samuel, Jeff Wilson scored his first rushing touchdown of the season to give the 49ers a 24-10 lead. They were rolling on all cylinders.

The Falcons answered with a 9-play drive after Thomas gave up another jump ball and Josh Norman allowed a 49-yard pass. Instead of going for a touchdown down 14, the Falcons elected to kick a field goal to cut the score to 24-13. The only way kicking a field goal made sense was if they felt like they could stop the Niners.

San Francisco marched ten plays in just under six minutes and went 75 yards — they had four plays go double-digits — and scored a touchdown after Garoppolo found Jauan Jennings for a four-yard touchdown pass to make it 31-13. Atlanta’s only hope was scoring a touchdown on its previous drive.

After trading punts, Ryan found Kyle Pitts for 49 yards after Thomas failed to play the ball in the air for his third target in a row. The Falcons wound up going for it on 4th & 1, but Jimmie Ward ended up making a tackle in the backfield to get San Francisco’s defense off the field.

After a Jennings drop and a play where Deebo couldn’t haul in a contested throw, the 49ers punted. Atlanta drove the field once again with a goal-to-go situation. On third down, Tartt showed incredible effort to run across the field and prevent Ryan from running the ball in.

Ryan threw it high on fourth down, which meant another turnover for the defense. Their team speed is impressive, and it shows up the closer they get to the goal line. Their effort showed up all game. The Falcons ran five plays from the 49ers’ 1-yard line and didn’t score on either of those plays.

That defensive stop summed up how the game went. No matter how close Atlanta would get, San Francisco found a way to overcome the circumstance. This is the eighth win of the season, and a big one as Atlanta was vying for a playoff spot.

From 3-5 to 8-6. It’s a short week, but Elijah Mitchell should return after sitting out the past two games. There weren’t any major injuries in this game, which means the Niners should be close to full strength on Thursday.