Santa Clara – The 49ers playoff picture looks brighter, their win today keeps them at number six in the National Football Conference (NFC) standings. San Francisco has won 5 of their last six games. Despite an awful start, the 49ers prevailed and dominated the Atlanta Falcons for a 31-13 victory.
“It’s a long season and lots of things can go,” said Kyle Shanahan. “I’m glad we got this win here. I’m glad we got it last week. But it’s still the same deal. We’ve got a game here in four days and it’s going to come down to the wire for all these teams.”
JaMycal Hasty fumbled on opening kickoff, the Falcons took over at the 12. San Francisco’s defense held them at the goal line to force Younghoe Koo to kick a 48-yard field goal to make it a 3-0 game. Atlanta made five attempts on the 49ers 1-yard line and failed on all of them.
“We have to make sure, first and foremost, that we don’t turn the ball over like that,” Shanahan said on the opening drive fumble.”
San Francisco’s defense was outstanding today, they forced 3 turnovers on downs inside their own 10-yard line. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first time in 40 years that a team forced their opponent to turn over the ball over on downs within the 10-yard line 3 or more times in a single game.
“Those moments are like you have nothing left and you have to really just bring something out,” Fred Warner said. “It’s one more down, we have to get it. We have a situation where the game’s on the line, this is where we have to make something happen. We take pride in that. That was huge today for our team because those count like takeaways for the team. It gets crazy down there, but it was something that was really special.”
Koo kicked two field goals, and Matt Ryan went 19-of-32 for 236 yards that included one touchdown. Ryan turned over the ball twice while the total for the team was 4 turn overs for the day. Nick Bosa forced Ryan to fumble, he’s now registered at least 1.0 sack in 6-consecutive games, the longest streak by a member of the 49ers since LB Aldon Smith had 7-straight in Weeks 7-14 (Week 9 Bye) of 2012.
On the other end, Jimmy Garoppolo went 18-of-23 for 235 yards and had one touchdown. George Kittle had another goof game with 6 receptions for 93 yards. It was San Francisco’s running game that took over. Three running backs scored a touchdown each.
“Jimmy was definitely inspired to play at a high-level today and he definitely inspired all of us,” Kittle said. “He’s a guy that breaks down the team before we go head out to the field as a team. And I thought he did a great job today. He definitely pulled us all along. I think he had a really good day today.”
Kyle Juszczyk rushed up the middle for a 6-yard touchdown to give the 49ers a 10-3 lead in the first quarter. That was his first rushing touchdown this season. The Falcons tied the game 10-10 when Ryan found Russell Gage for a 20-yard touchdown. By the second quarter Deebo Samuel rushed for a 10-yard touchdown to end the half with a 17-10 lead.
“I think we’re peaking at a good time and I should preface it with we’re definitely not playing as best as we can,” Juszczyk said. “There was a lot of things that didn’t exactly go our way out there, but we were able to battle back and not let it phase us early on. But I do think we’re playing some good ball right now and we’re stacking some weeks and we’re feeling good.”
By the third, Garoppolo made two big plays when he connected with both Kittle and Samuel for a 13 and 21 yard pass. That setup Jeff Wilson’s 5-yard touchdown into the end zone. And Garoppolo followed with a 75-yard drive and a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jauan Jennings to make it a 31-13 game.
“I think whenever you get an opportunity to be in the situation we’re in, it’s not easy,” said Garoppolo. “It doesn’t happen every team, but you’ve just got to take advantage when you get that chance. I think guys realize that. I think more and more week in and week out, it’s become bigger and bigger. Like this Thursday coming up, it’ll be a big game for us. Just like this one was and we’ve just got to keep a good mindset right now.”
“We just know what is at stake,” Samuel said. “We got a game on Thursday. It’s a short week. We just got to lock in and continue to build off this game and just continue to play the ball we’ve been playing.”
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