By: Cole A. McMahon
(Photo by: Terrell Lloyd/49ers)
The 49ers’ depleted roster cannot keep up with the Atlanta Falcons who flipped the script against the Niners on both sides of the ball.
Nick Bosa was sorely missed in Sunday’s game when the Falcons put up 14 points in the first quarter. In the first drive, the Falcons were able to soar downfield to obtain a seven-point lead. The lack of pass rush gave Marcus Mariota a comfortable amount of time in the pocket leading to the quarterback completing all but one pass going 13-14. The defense struggled to stop the run as the Falcons put up 168-yards on 40 attempts (ESPN). A 49ers-esque stat.
The 49ers’ run game was abandoned early when Jeff Wilson Jr. fumbled the ball that got scooped up by the Falcon’s defense for their second touchdown of the game. San Francisco only ran the ball 16 times for 50 yards (ESPN). History has shown that when the Niners do not run the ball and are more pass-oriented, they tend to lose.
Down by 14 points, Brandon Aiyuk was sought out by Garoppolo scoring two touchdowns on the day. The second touchdown Aiyuk had was set up by a great 35-yard punt return by Ray-Ray McCloud where he went down at the 32-yard line. Aiyuk put a spicy move on cornerback A.J. Terrell looping to the outside and Garoppolo hitting him for the touchdown to tie the game.
The 49ers began to fall apart after this score as Mariota consistently completed passes and ran past defenders. Trying to contain a quarterback like Mariota has been the defense's kryptonite for several years. The Falcons would score two more times with the run-dominate offense. One score was taken in by Mariota and the second was a touchdown pass to Kyle Pitts in the third quarter putting them up 28-14.
Key injuries arose for the second game in a row. A decimated cornerback group took another hit with Samuel Womack replacing Ward who suffered a groin injury. The offensive line then took a hit when Mike McGlinchey did not return in the second half of the game with a calf injury.
With the non-existent run game, Garoppolo looked to make plays and bring San Francisco back into the game which did not happen. Garoppolo was not at fault, however, he took multiple shots down the field in the second half that were dropped by his receivers. He hit McCloud and Charlie Woerner in the hands that both receivers dropped. Then in the fourth quarter, Aiyuk was targeted, but the pass was broken up by good coverage from the Falcons. This missed deep pass proved costly when a play later Garoppolo threw an interception intended for Deebo. In the final drive where the Niners still had a chance to make a comeback, the offense started at the one-yard line. The offense would begin to drive until Garoppolo took his last deep pass and connected to Aiyuk only for it to get called back for holding on Center Jake Brendel.
Garoppolo was not the losing factor for this offense. Those deep passes he attempted should have brought points on multiple drives. The 49ers beat themselves on the offensive side of the ball where they could not rely on the defense to carry them. If the 49ers want to be successful offensively for the rest of the season, they need to do the three things that did not happen in this game:
Run the ball 30+ times
Limit mental errors
Catch the damn ball
With 10:42 on the clock down two scores, the sense of urgency was not there. They drained eight minutes off the clock and the drive ended with zero points sealing their fate.
If the Niners want a chance at beating the Chiefs in the big Week 7 matchup, they will need to clean up all that went wrong for them against the Falcons and play the physical brand of football that wins them games. The Chiefs will blow the Niners off the field if they do not bring the intensity to Levi's next weekend.