Three Keys to the Atlanta Falcons Defeating the 49ers
The Atlanta Falcons travel to the Bay Area to face the San Francisco 49ers in an NFC matchup. Moreover, the Falcons are sitting in second place in the NFC South with a record of 6-7 and still in contention for a playoff spot.
They are coming off a win versus their divisional rival, the Carolina Panthers on the road 29-21 as the defense forced three turnovers. Looking at the 49ers, they hold the second wild-card spot with a 7-6 record, winning four of their last five games.
Looking at this matchup, the Falcons are in a must-win position if they still want to be in the wild card hunt. That being said, here are three keys to the Atlanta Falcons for beating the 49ers on Sunday afternoon.
Atlanta Falcons Need to Keep the 49ers Out of the Red Zone
The 49ers led the NFL in red-zone scoring percentage (touchdowns only) at 72.97 percent, scoring 27 touchdowns. On the other hand, the Falcons allow the third-most touchdowns in the red zone (33). Running back Elijah Mitchell is in the top 15 in the NFL in the percentage of rushes in the red zone at 60%. He has four touchdowns inside the 20-yard line this season.
Surprisingly, wide receiver Deebo Samuel also has four rushing touchdowns inside the 20-yard line along with two receiving touchdowns. Further, wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has four receiving touchdowns this season. Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees must keep these three players in mind when in the red zone defensively.
Force Jimmy Garoppolo to Beat You
All in all, the 49ers have leaned heavily on their run game from an offensive standpoint this season. They are tied for the fourth-most touchdowns on the ground with 17 and tied for sixth in first downs by way of rushing at 98. With this in mind, the Falcons must force the 49ers into passing situations by shutting down the run. Atlanta is 23rd against the run, allowing 117.1 yards a game.
However, Atlanta is 21rd in passing yards allowed and 30th in passing touchdowns allowed with 26. Undoubtedly, those are not ideal numbers but, in this matchup, trust your secondary here and get to Garoppolo because they are last in sacks with 18. Linebacker Deion Jones is an x-factor here.
Pound the Ball
Summing up the Atlanta Falcons run game in 2021, it has not been the balance to their passing game. Comparatively, the Falcons are 27th in rushing whereas the passing game is 17th in the NFL. Cordarrelle Patterson leads the team in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns with five. What’s more, Patterson was a former wide receiver and the running back they signed in the offseason, Mike Davis has just 382 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
In reality, this 49ers’ defense has done a great job versus the pass and Atlanta needs to kick start the run game to have a chance. They have eight rushing touchdowns, the fifth-fewest in the NFL. Head coach Arthur needs to insert a dose of Patterson and Davis to create the play action for Matt Ryan.