The San Francisco 49ers looked like they were in position to manage a win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 15 despite not putting forth their best effort at home on both sides of the ball.

Instead, the Niners ultimately fell victim to the trap game, suffering an embarrassing last-second 29-22 loss at Levi's Stadium, which could have all kinds of implications in the playoff picture, depending on how the rest of the conference falls into place.

Still, it doesn't change the fact the visiting Falcons had just four wins entering this contest and boasted one of the league's worst defenses. A win would have clinched a playoff berth for San Francisco, and one figures head coach Kyle Shanahan's squad would have been inspired enough to seize the opportunity. Especially after such an emotional and nerve-wracking Week 14 road win against another top playoff contender, the New Orleans Saints.

Yet the vast majority of the 49ers effort felt flat, uninspired. It was as if the Niners were falling into the emotional letdown from the nature of this contest despite whatever Shanahan and his staff would have said otherwise leading up to kickoff.

When asked whether or not this was a factor at all, linebacker Fred Warner seemed to think it played a role.

"For sure," Warner said. "For sure, we could have came out there with a little more juice on both sides, or just as a team in general."

Whether by design or just as a consequence of play calling, the 49ers did engineer an impressive 21-play, 88-yard drive that spanned nearly 11 minutes during the first half. That chewed up a ton of clock, but it also felt as if the Niners were dragging, too. And at no point did San Francisco seem to command complete momentum in the game, either.

"I was trying to get us going a little bit," Warner continued. "But even myself, I felt I could have brought even more early on in the game and as the game went on."

Even when the 49ers were up by two scores in the fourth quarter, it seemed as if so much was left unaccomplished and the Niners squandered chances to put Atlanta away for good. Instead, the Falcons were able to close the gap and outscored San Francisco 19-9 in the fourth quarter, although six of those points were off a garbage play.

But if the 49ers prided themselves on having closers this season, the lackluster effort in Week 15 didn't reveal it.
  • 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.