1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
ATL 0 10 0 19 29
SF 0 10 3 9 22

The San Francisco 49ers sure looked like they were going through a bit of a hangover in Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons, following the Niners' dramatic road victory over the New Orleans Saints the week before.

Granted, head coach Kyle Shanahan's squad was shorthanded with injuries, particularly on the defensive side, which explained why the offensive play calling was much more deliberate and time consuming.

But the entire effort ultimately led to a 29-22 loss for San Francisco, which now falls to 11-3 on the year and sees its hold atop the conference and division take a massive hit.

The Niners opened the scoring first, thanks to a 21-play, 88-yard drive that chewed up 10:43 of game clock between the first two quarters and ultimately culminated in a 2-yard rushing touchdown by running back Raheem Mostert. But the Falcons, taking advantage of a banged-up secondary, which was without cornerbacks Richard Sherman (hamstring) and K'Waun Williams (concussion), answered back shortly afterwards with a 5-yard pass touchdown from quarterback Matt Ryan to wide receiver Julio Jones.

Ryan would finish the day 25-of-39 for 210 yards, two touchdowns all for a passer rating of 95.0.

Meanwhile, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo found himself under pressure for a good chunk of the game, particularly early. As a result, tight end George Kittle was the only reliable target at Garoppolo's disposal, while the 49ers wide receivers were not much of a factor at all in the pass-catching game. In the first half, only Emmanuel Sanders had a catch and it was only for 5 yards.

In total, Garoppolo was 22-of-34 for 200 yards, a touchdown, no interceptions and a 90.3 passer rating. Kittle, meanwhile, finished the afternoon with 13 catches for 134 yards.

Both sides exchanged field goals before halftime, yet the Niners were tasked with figuring out a way to prevent Jones from being such a force for Atlanta. Those adjustments seemed to carry over well enough into the second half, especially after Jones managed 56 yards over the first two quarters.

San Francisco recaptured the lead in the third quarter after a 46-yard field goal from kicker Robbie Gould, although it was yet another indication the 49ers were going through some relatively lackluster offensive efforts after such an explosive effort the week prior. And despite a promising drive towards the end of the third quarter, running back Matt Breida's fumble ultimately thwarted yet another chance to get out to a bigger lead late.

Atlanta wasn't able to do anything with the opportunity, though, being forced to punt shortly after the fourth quarter got underway. The Niners had to punt, too, but they managed to get the big break they'd been seeking all afternoon, as the ball was fumbled by Falcons return man Kenjon Barner and picked up by fullback Kyle Juszczyk at the Falcons 2-yard line.

Juszczyk would haul in a pass from Garoppolo two plays later for a touchdown, although the subsequent extra-point attempt from Gould missed, making it 19-10 in favor of San Francisco with just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation:


Ryan continued to target Jones, however, who finished with a whopping 13 catches for 134 yards, two touchdowns and was instrumental in setting up Atlanta's fourth-quarter score to make it a 19-17 game.

Jones would also come up big later, too.

But the 49ers were able to chew up some clock after the Falcons touchdown, thanks to some key pickups by their wide receivers who were mostly absent earlier in the game, Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders:


That nearly iced the game for San Francisco, but the drive stalled just outside of the red zone and led to another field goal from Gould. With 1:52 remaining in regulation, the Falcons went back to work in an attempt to take the lead and pull off the upset. And in a nerve-chewing red-zone drive by Atlanta, Ryan found tight end Austin Hooper for what appeared to be a go-ahead touchdown with four seconds remaining. But Hooper didn't have complete control of it, and the review overturned the call on the field.

But on the following play, Ryan's attempt to Jones crossed the plane and gave the Falcons the lead. And the ensuing scrum on the last-ditch kickoff attempt eventually led to a meaningless touchdown for Atlanta and a massive dent in San Francisco's playoff push.

As a result, the Niners fell from the No. 1 seed in the NFC down to the No. 5 spot. The Los Angeles Rams loss to Dallas Cowboys gave San Francisco a playoff berth, yes. But this defeat is ultimately costly in a number of bad, bad ways.


ATL Team Stats SF
20 First Downs 20
290 Total Yards 313
201 Pass Yards 193
89 Rush Yards 120
11 (98) Penalties (Yds) 7 (67)
1 Turnovers 2
5 (46) Punts (Avg) 4 (41)
29:12 Time of Pos. 30:48

Falcons Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
M. Ryan 25/39 210 2 0
Rushing Att Yds TDs Lg
D. Freeman 12 39 0 11
M. Ryan 5 27 0 9
B. Hill 1 16 0 16
R. Gage 1 6 0 6
Q. Ollison 1 1 1 1
Receiving Rec Yds TDs Lg
J. Jones 13 134 2 28
R. Gage 5 27 0 11
A. Hooper 3 20 0 9
D. Freeman 2 16 0 13
L. Stocker 1 9 0 9
K. Barner 1 4 0 4
Fumbles Fum Lost Rec Yds
K. Barner 1 1 0 0
D. Campbell 0 0 0 0
O. Zaccheaus 0 0 0 0
Kicking FG Lg XP Pts
Y. Koo 1/1 43 2/2 5
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
R. Allen 5 50.4 2 59
Kickoff Returns No Avg TDs Lg
K. Barner 3 23 0 29
Punt Returns No Avg TDs Lg
K. Barner 4 4 0 7
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
D. Campbell 6-5 0 0 1
I. Oliver 7-2 0 0 0
D. Jones 3-6 0 0 0
D. Kazee 4-3 0 0 0
G. Jarrett 2-4 0 0 0
V. Beasley 3-2 1 0 0
J. Tuioti-Mariner 1-3 0 0 0
T. Davison 2-1 0 0 0
F. Oluokun 1-2 0 0 0
B. Wreh-Wilson 2-0 0 0 0
K. Sheffield 1-1 0 0 0
Ri. Allen 1-1 0 0 0
K. Ishmael 1-0 0 0 1
T. McKinley 0-1 0 0 0

49ers Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
J. Garoppolo 22/34 200 1 0
Rushing Att Yds TDs Lg
R. Mostert 14 54 1 8
T. Coleman 4 40 0 37
M. Breida 4 11 0 9
D. Samuel 1 8 0 8
J. Garoppolo 2 6 0 3
K. Juszczyk 2 1 0 2
Receiving Rec Yds TDs Lg
G. Kittle 13 134 0 21
E. Sanders 2 9 0 5
M. Breida 2 6 0 5
K. Juszczyk 2 6 1 4
D. Samuel 1 29 0 29
K. Bourne 1 11 0 11
R. Mostert 1 5 0 5
Fumbles Fum Lost Rec Yds
M. Breida 2 1 0 0
G. Kittle 1 0 1 0
R. Mostert 1 1 0 0
K. Juszczyk 0 0 0 14
Kicking FG Lg XP Pts
R. Gould 3/3 46 1/2 10
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
M. Wishnowsky 4 46 2 55
Kickoff Returns No Avg TDs Lg
R. James Jr. 1 27 0 27
D. Samuel 1 -9 0 -9
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
F. Warner 6-3 0 0 0
E. Moseley 7-0 0 0 0
M. Harris 4-2 0 0 0
D. Greenlaw 4-2 0 0 0
A. Witherspoon 3-1 0 0 0
A. Armstead 2-1 0 0 0
N. Bosa 1-2 1 0 0
S. Day 2-0 1 0 0
J. Ward 2-0 0 0 0
D. Reed Jr. 2-0 0 0 0
J. Valoaga 1-0 0 0 0
D. Buckner 1-0 0 0 0
A. Al-Shaair 1-0 0 0 0
K. Street 1-0 0 0 0
S. Thomas 0-1 0 0 0
  • Peter Panacy
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.

Related News