The last regular season game at Candlestick Park is upon us as the San Francisco take on the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football. San Francisco is looking to equal their longest winning streak of the season at five and clinch a playoff spot as they face one of the most disappointing teams in the league in the Falcons.
After being a few yards away from reaching the Superbowl last year, Atlanta has struggled mightily this season and it has been mostly due to their injuries. Julio Jones has only played in five games this year and his running mate Roddy White has also struggled with injuries this season. Steven Jackson and left tackle Sam Baker have also been affected by injuries. The Falcons who were a popular Superbowl pick this season, are 4-10 and 1-6 on the road this season. They still have Matt Ryan and have won two out of their last three so they will be a formidable opponent. Ryan hasn’t put up the huge numbers he did last year but he certainly hasn’t been the problem this season. With his best receivers, Ryan has still managed to throw 22 touchdowns and complete 66% of his passes so he has the ability to carry a team.
Although this will be an emotional game for San Francisco, the 49ers need to watch their emotions and continue playing their brand of football by imposing their will on the opposition and dominating the line of scrimmage. Their running attack is now fifth in the league and they need to keep pounding that ball with Frank Gore and have Colin Kaepernick use play action to throw the ball down the field.
Player to watch: Anthony Dixon
The loss of Bruce Miller is a huge blow for San Francisco but it’s now up to Dixon to step up and produce. Dixon is a tough guy whose quickness could be used as a weapon in the offense. This is a guy who is in his fourth year with a team and has been willing to do anything to help the team win. I look for him to make an impact in this game and in the future.
Key Matchup: Vernon Davis vs. Tony Gonzalez
This not a typical defense vs. offense match up but a good one nonetheless. Gonzalez is the best tight end of all time and he will go up against Vernon Davis, a pretty good tight end himself. Davis has scored a touchdown in five straight games, look for this streak to continue against the 25th ranked passing defense.
Bottom Line: Go out with a bang
This is not only the last game at the Stick but it would clinch a playoff spot so I see the 49ers coming out and just dominating a team that is already making plans for the offseason. The only thing the 49ers should worry about is to get out of candlestick healthy.