49ers Clubhouse 

Falcons vs 49ers Preview

October 13, 2001

by James Parrott
Clubhouse Staff Writer

Tough Obstacle To Negotiate

With the 49ers at 3-1, Sundays game presents a stern test of this new San Francisco teams ability to come through in difficult situations. Even though they have already beaten their opponents, the Atlanta Falcons this season, they have lost on their last four visits to the Georgia Dome (including the playoff game in which Garrison Hearst first injured his ankle in January 1999). And with Falcons running back Jamal Anderson out for the year and QB Chris Chandler just a week removed from another concussion, there could be the risk of under-estimating a team who at full strength gave San Francisco a tough game in week 1.

This year the Niners have already doubled their 2000 total of divisional wins, and will look to add to that total throughout the year. The road game at Atlanta is probably the easier of their remaining division games, excluding Carolina.

Last weeks 31-3 hiding at home to the Chicago Bears has left the Falcons looking vulnerable. Michael Vick looked every bit the raw quarterback he was projected to be, fumbling three times and being sacked six times. The season long absence of Anderson has left a big hole in the blitz pickup department, and the Bears young defence showed how to beat the Falcons with Chandler or Vick under center.

Blitzes and heavy pressure from the front four leave Chandler at the risk of injury and Vick prone to errors. Another key is not to overlook replacement halfback Maurice Smith.

On top of this, only Quentin McCord is healthy among the Atlanta wide outs. On the other side of the ball, it has generally proven easier to beat Atlanta through the air despite their stellar cornerback tandem of Ray Buchanan and Ashley Ambrose as the Bears showed last week and San Francisco eventually found out in week 1.

The running game has picked up in the last two games but the overall game plan is somewhat conservative and second and third receivers JJ Stokes and Tai Streets have few catches since that week 1 victory over Atlanta. They may have to re-emerge to take the pressure off of Terrell Owens and Jeff Garcia.

If the 49ers can put up three touchdowns on the board then the defence should be able to hold up against a depleted Atlanta offence and increase their record to 4-1. But it should prove to be a hard fought game, remember that.

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