The 49ers looked like a team missing its starting offensive tackles, cornerbacks, three defensive linemen, safety, running back, and linebacker. We know this team was banged up coming into today, but it looked like a preseason game at times.
Atlanta scored on its opening drive after marching 11 plays for 74 yards. They went up two scores after Jeff Wilson fumbled trying to reach the ball for a first down. That’s a no-no, and he paid for it.
San Francisco ended up punting the ball, and they did on their following possession. The Falcons didn’t struggle to move the ball as they scored on nine plays in just over five minutes to take a two-possession lead.
That’s what the 49ers needed to wake them up offensively. On the ensuing drive, the offense went 79 yards on eight plays that was capped off by a screen pass to Brandon Aiyuk from 12 yards out.
After an impressive punt return from Ray-Ray McCloud, the 49ers scored in two minutes thanks to another Aiyuk touchdown from 14 yards out. On this play, Aiyuk ran a pivot route against A.J. Terrell that left him in the dust.
Unfortunately, the Falcons answered with a scoring drive of their own. Drake London caught a pass on Deommodore Lenoir for 20 yards, but the drive was kept alive by Marcus Mariota, who picked up 15 yards with his legs on 3rd & 12. Mariota would cap the drive off with a touchdown from three yards out to give Atlanta a 21-14 lead.
The offense had the ball to open the half, and Shanahan called a perfect pass to get McCloud deep. Garoppolo threw a perfect pass, but, Ray-Ray couldn’t haul it in. That drop led to a punt, which turned into another promising drive for Atlanta.
This was Atlanta’s best drive. They only saw third down once on nine plays. The drive was capped off with Kyle Pitts beating Samuel Womack by about five yards for a score.
The defense forced the Falcons to punt on their next two drives, but the offense couldn’t answer as they punted, then Garoppolo threw an interception. The Niners had one final chance to make the game one possession, but they were unable to convert on 4th & 1.
You could tell the wideouts were exhausted. There was no sense of urgency. Shanahan called a running play on 2nd & 10 and a screen pass, despite having success throwing the ball down the field. A 16-play drive that took eight minutes off the clock ended with no points.
The Niners were shorthanded. Despite that, the defense held Atlanta to seven points in the second half. There were opportunities on both sides, but drops from Charlie Woerner and McCloud, including a couple of 1-on-1 matchups on defense.
The 49ers will remain in first place no matter what else happens this afternoon. This game may come back to haunt them from a tiebreaker scenario, but you can’t expect much from a team full of backups.