ATLANTA- GA The Atlanta Falcons will have some extra time to travel west and prepare to face the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football in Candlestick Park.
The Falcons can still dampen the 49ers season with a win on the 49ers home turf. This has all the makings of a trap game for San Francisco. The Falcons are having their worst year under Mike Smith; the young defensive rookies haven’t faced the physical offense run by Colin Kaepernick and powered by Frank Gore.The 49ers will likely make the playoffs if they can win against the Arizona Cardinals next week as well as the Falcons this week.
That’s where I think Atlanta has a slight advantage. Of course Coach Jim Harbaugh will preach to his team and media to just take it one game at a time and they are focused on the Atlanta Falcons, but it’s inevitable that some players will be excited to go to the post season once again. Some players will think that the Falcons are not as dangerous as they were last year, with good reason. However, this is exactly the reason why I think Atlanta will have a chance to take down this team one step closer out of playoff contention.
Key players to stop
First and foremost Atlanta has to focus on one of their weaknesses; stopping mobile quarterbacks. They don’t necessarily gash the team for huge run yardage but at the right time they always extend crucial game winning drive after drive. Time and again the team is exploited when the edge isn’t set, that’s when explosive plays happen, something that the Falcons have yet to contain this season.
If you haven’t guessed by now, Colin Kaepernick is a good example of this type of quarterback because the last time the Falcons played them; this is exactly what he did against a porous secondary in Atlanta. This year, Kaepernick is looking more pedestrian and less of the superstar in the making that most people thought he was. As teams are starting to figure him out his completion percentage has dropped about five percent to 57.9 percent.
Frank Gore has been the workhorse back since 2006 and over his career with the niners he has averaged 4.6 yards per carry. It’s no secret that Atlanta struggles against a good running back in a power running scheme. This game is going to put many Falcons in the ice tub afterwards.
Anquan Boldin is more of a possession receiver but if he catches the ball in space he will fight every defender before he goes down. Whenever an opponent tackles Boldin he looks as if they have personally offended him.
The 49ers and Kaepernick have started to trust him as the season went on and he has seen his production increase dramatically. He is already matching most of his numbers he had with the Baltimore Ravens last year in the 2012 season.
With Micheal Crabtree and Boldin in the lineup it will be hard to just take one receiver away since the other will undoubtedly have a grea game because of that. The focus should be upfront and let the defensive backs do the best they can. The Falcons should blitz early and blitz often. This will force San Francisco to turn to the pass before to exploit the openings in the secondary. This is a far better chance than letting Gore and Kendall Hunter run all over the field.
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