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Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Shorthanded 49ers defense run over by Falcons in 28-14 loss

Oct 16, 2022 at 12:59 PM

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1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
SF 0 14 0 0 14
ATL 14 7 7 0 28

The San Francisco 49ers entered into Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons with a defense some believed was good enough to carry the team to the Super Bowl. That may still prove to be the case, but it wasn't on Sunday in a 28-14 loss to the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

The 49ers' defense was without a number of starters and it showed, as they gave up 168 yards on the ground to a Falcons offense that was without leading rusher Cordarrelle Patterson, while also allowing the Falcons to convert 9-of-14 attempts on third down. Meanwhile, the 49ers had an inconsistent day on offense, turning over the ball three times, one of which resulted in a touchdown.

Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 13-of-14 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns in the game while also running for 50 yards and one touchdown on six carries. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completed 29-of-41 passes for 296 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

First Half

The Falcons took the opening kickoff and became the first team of the season to score a first half touchdown against the 49ers, putting together an 11-play, 74-yard drive that finished with a two-yard scoring pass to tight end MyCole Pruitt. A 37-yard completion to wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus on the third play of the drive set the Falcons up in 49ers territory, then after a series of running plays that included two more third-down conversions, Mariota found Pruitt on a 2nd-and-Goal to take a 7-0 lead.

The teams exchanged punts after the opening touchdown, then the Falcons got on the board again before the end of the first quarter with the help of their defense. The 49ers faced a 3rd-and-1 from their own 20-yard line on their third possession of the game and handed the ball to running back Jeff Wilson, who fumbled the ball after having it knocked loose by linebacker Rashaan Evans. Cornerback A.J. Terrell scooped up the ball and ran towards the end zone, then fumbled into the end zone after trying to reach the ball across the goal line. Safety Jaylinn Hawkins recovered Terrell's fumble, giving the Falcons a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

The 49ers got the answer they needed on the following drive courtesy of a 12-yard touchdown pass from Garoppolo to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. Garoppolo went 5-for-5 on what turned out to be an eight-play, 79-yard drive, completing two passes to tight end George Kittle, one to wide receiver Deebo Samuel and one more to Aiyuk before putting the ball in the end zone to cut the 49ers' deficit to 14-7.

Momentum continued to build for the 49ers from there, as after holding the Falcons to a three-and-out, the 49ers took over at the Falcons' 32-yard line following a fancy 35-yard punt return from Ray-Ray McCloud. The 49ers needed just four plays to get the ball into the end zone, with Aiyuk once again being on the receiving end of a touchdown pass, this one from 14 yards out to tie the score at 14.

The Falcons grabbed momentum back on the next drive, sparked in particular by one significant third-down play by Mariota. The Falcons faced a 3rd-and-12 at their own 39 when Mariota broke out of pressure and ran across midfield for a 15-yard gain. Five plays later, Mariota finished off the drive (11 plays, 75 yards) with a 3-yard touchdown run for a 21-14 lead with less than a minute to play in the half.

The half ended with an interception from Garoppolo, who went 12-for-15 for 122 yards over the first two quarters compared to 8-of-8 for 97 yards for Mariota, who also added four carries for 31 yards. The Falcons outgained the 49ers 171 to 149 in the first half, with 82 of those yards coming on the ground.

Second Half

The 49ers opened the second half with a three-and-out, then the Falcons engineered an efficient, 9-play/65-yard drive to take a 28-14 lead on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to tight end Kyle Pitts. All but one play before the touchdown was on the ground, including a 20-yard run from Mariota, then Pitts and Mariota connected on a 3rd-and-3 from the 7-yard line to extend the Falcons' lead.

The teams exchanged punts after the Pitts touchdown, then the 49ers turned the ball over for a third time when Garoppolo was intercepted by Hawkins early in the fourth quarter. The Falcons took over at their own 45-yard line after the interception and moved inside 49ers territory before being forced to punt, which was downed at the 1-yard line with just under 11 minutes to play.

The 49ers held onto the ball for the next eight minutes, going on an 18-play drive that moved inside the Falcons' 20-yard line. The Falcons took over on downs with less than three minutes remaining in the game and ran the clock to 1:12 before punting back to the 49ers, then the 49ers moved to the Falcons' 30-yard line on their final possession before the game came to an end.

Game Notes: After opening the season with road contests in four of their first six games, the 49ers will return home next week to begin a stretch that includes six of seven upcoming games at Levi's Stadium. The first game in that stretch will be against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, October 23 (4:25 p.m. ET/1:25 p.m. PT, FOX)... The Falcons will be on the road next Sunday for a 1 p.m. ET game against the Cincinnati Bengals... The 49ers began the day ranked first in the league in defense (249.2 yards allowed per game) and points allowed (12.2) while giving up just 12 total first half points through their first five games... The 49ers came into game as four-point favorites over the Falcons with a series edge of 48-32-1.

SF Team Stats ATL
296 Passing Yards 121
50 Rushing Yards 168
346 Total Yards 289
7.22 Avg Yards per Pass 9.21
3.13 Avg Yards per Run 4.2
1 Fumbles Lost 0
2 Int Thrown 0
0 Sacks Allowed 2
00:26:35 Time of Pos 00:33:25
5 Penalties 5

49ers Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
Jimmy Garoppolo 29/41 296 2 2
Rushing Att Yds Avg TDs
Jeff Wilson 7 25 3.6 0
Deebo Samuel 2 11 5.5 0
Jimmy Garoppolo 3 11 3.7 0
Tevin Coleman 4 3 0.8 0
Receiving Rec Tgt Yds TDs
George Kittle 8 10 83 0
Brandon Aiyuk 8 11 83 2
Deebo Samuel 7 10 79 0
Kyle Juszczyk 4 4 33 0
Jauan Jennings 2 3 18 0
Jeff Wilson 0 1 0 0
Ray-Ray McCloud 0 1 0 0
Charlie Woerner 0 1 0 0
Fumbles Fum Lost
Jeff Wilson 1 1
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
Mitch Wishnowsky 3 52.7 1 59
Kickoff Returns Yds Avg TDs Lg
Ray-Ray McCloud 74 24.7 0 28
Punt Returns Att Avg TDs Lg
Ray-Ray McCloud 1 35 0 35
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
Fred Warner 8-2 0 0 0
Tashaun Gipson 7-2 0 0 0
Samson Ebukam 5-3 0 0 0
Talanoa Hufanga 5-1 0 0 0
Dre Greenlaw 4-2 0 0 0
Hassan Ridgeway 3-2 0 0 0
Charles Omenihu 2-2 1 0 0
Kerry Hyder 2-0 0 0 0
Charvarius Ward 2-0 0 0 0
Deommodore Lenoir 1-1 0 0 0
George Odum 1-0 0 0 0
Tarvarius Moore 1-0 0 0 0
Kemoko Turay 1-0 0 0 0
Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles 1-0 0 0 0
Kevin Givens 1-0 0 0 0

Falcons Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
Marcus Mariota 13/14 129 2 0
Rushing Att Yds Avg TDs
Caleb Huntley 16 59 3.7 0
Marcus Mariota 6 50 8.3 1
Avery Williams 2 6 3 0
Keith Smith 1 2 2 0
Receiving Rec Tgt Yds TDs
Olamide Zaccheaus 4 4 58 0
Kyle Pitts 3 3 19 1
Keith Smith 1 1 8 0
Avery Williams 1 1 2 0
MyCole Pruitt 1 1 2 1
Fumbles Fum Lost
A.J. Terrell 1 0
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
Bradley Pinion 5 43 3 52
Kickoff Returns Yds Avg TDs Lg
Avery Williams 28 28 0 28
Punt Returns Att Avg TDs Lg
Avery Williams 2 24 0 29
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
Rashaan Evans 7-5 0 0 1
Richie Grant 5-1 0 0 0
A.J. Terrell 2-2 0 0 0
Matt Dickerson 2-1 0 0 0
Isaiah Oliver 2-1 0 1 0
Casey Hayward 2-0 0 0 0
Jaylinn Hawkins 1-3 0 1 0
Abdullah Anderson 1-1 0 0 0
Mike Ford 1-1 0 0 0
Ta'Quon Graham 1-1 0 0 0
Darren Hall 1-1 0 0 0
Nick Kwiatkoski 1-0 0 0 0
Quinton Bell 1-0 0 0 0

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