By Matthew Asher
Thanks in large part to failing a Redskins 2-point conversion attempt, the Atlanta Falcons have now won their fourth game of the season. With two games remaining in the regular season, Atlanta travels cross-country to take on the San Francisco 49ers, in what will be the last regular season game ever played at Candlestick Park.
49ers on Offense
To be sure, this is an offense that can hurt you in many ways, as they’ve been able to put up at least 30 points in seven of the 14 games they’ve played this season. They average 24.9 points a game, the 12th most in the league. What’s interesting is how San Francisco is doing it.
They average 316.1 yards a game on offense, the sixth lowest in the league with only 179.1 yards coming through the air, the second-worst in the league. Colin Kaepernick has completed almost 58 percent of his throws for 2690 yards, 18 touchdowns and just eight interceptions for an average quarterback rating of 88.8. He’s also been sacked 34 times for 196 yards of lost offense.
If you’re wondering why the passing game isn’t effective, it’s because there are only two real players Kapernick targets: Wide receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis. These two men are responsible for 119 of Kapernick’s 209 completions and have combined for 1763 yards (65 percent of Kapernick’s yardage) and 17 of Colin’s 18 touchdowns.
Where the 49ers shine on offense is in their running game. Picking up 137.1 yards each game, the fifth most in the league, this is where they win their games. Other than Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, there isn’t a better quarterback/running back duo than Frank Gore and Kaepernick. Gore has picked up more than 1000 yards and eight rushing touchdowns. The two have run the ball 327 times for 1463 yards and 11 of the team’s 16 rushing touchdowns
49ers on Defense
Simply looking at San Francisco’s numbers on defense and you’d swear you were looking at an undefeated team. Ranking in the top six of four major defensive statistics: points allowed, total, passing and rushing yards allowed.
The one that really matters, points allowed, is San Francisco’s strength. Giving up just 16.3 points a game, only two other teams have allowed fewer points. With total yards, the 49ers don’t even allow 300 yards, again the third best in the league.
Key Match Up
The key match up in the game will come down to the passing attack. Atlanta averages 262.2 passing yards each game, the ninth best in the league. San Francisco only allows 199.7, the fourth least in the league.
As witnessed by Atlanta forcing Washington to turn the ball over seven times, San Francisco is one of the best teams as far as winning the turnover battle is concerned. Currently at plus-eight, the eight best ratio.
WIth San Francisco fighting for their playoff lives, you can be sure that the 49ers will not be taking it easy on Atlanta this game. And with the closing of legendary Candlestick Park, Monday Night Football seems like the perfect venue for it to happen. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:40 pm EST. #RiseUp
For more Falcons news and updates, visit Falcons Central.
Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.