San Francisco is now 11-2 after a huge win in New Orleans last week and now it's time to go for win number 12 and clinch a playoff berth against the Atlanta Falcons.

The 49ers can position themselves for the playoffs with a win against the Falcons as they continue to build momentum going into the final two games of the season against the Rams and Seahawks, which will decide who wins the NFC West and possibly, home field advantage.

The Falcons enter the game with a 4-9 record and not a lot to play for, except maybe draft positioning. This game on the surface is more about a reunion between Kyle Shanahan and the Falcons, where Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for two seasons, including the 2016 season where Matt Ryan was the League MVP and the Falcons made it to the Super Bowl. Matt Ryan had his best season and definitely improved as a passer while Shanahan was there.

This is a game the 49ers can't afford to lose, but will attempt to collect a win with six starters out with injuries. Defensive end Dee Ford will miss the rest of the regular season with a hamstring injury. Cornerback Richard Sherman, who is improving, will sit this one out, also due to a hamstring injury. Slot corner K'Waun Williams has a concussion. Safety Jaquiski Tartt is still recovering from a fractured rib. Nose Tackle D.J. Jones is out for the season with a high ankle sprain. Finally, starting center Weston Richburg was lost for the season last week with a torn patella tendon.

While there will be challenges as the 49ers get ready to test their depth, this is nothing new. San Francisco has been dealing with injuries all season and the depth on this roster has been nothing short of amazing. Earlier in the year, cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, who was off to a terrific start, missed several games. Enter undrafted Emmanuel Moseley and the secondary hardly missed a beat. Moseley will now start in place of Sherman and will look to continue a very good season.

Last week, Ben Garland stepped in for Weston Richburg and after 25 snaps, gave up only one pressure. He also threw a terrific block that sprung Deebo Samuel on a 31-yard end around on a very key drive in the fourth quarter. Garland will be asked to play a big role for the rest of the season, but looks ready to do so.

Kentavius Street, the redshirt 4th round pick of the 2018 Draft, has missed the regular season up to this point, but after Jones' injury, the defensive line could use a healthy body. Street is ready and in his words, "I'm ready to run through a brick wall." Hopefully he will have the kind of impact the team foresaw when it drafted him. He will make his NFL debut against the Falcons.

When and Where: Atlanta at San Francisco - 1:25 pm PST - at Levi's Stadium

Here are four keys to victory for the 49ers this week:

1) Run the Ball



The offense needs to take control of this game early and often and the best way for it to do that is to run the ball. Running the ball takes pressure off of Jimmy Garoppolo, eats the clock, and can help get this game over with as the 49ers need to add a win, but also leave the building with no further injuries.

San Francisco has four quality running backs, all itching to get their carries and this is a perfect week to let all of them eat. Raheem Mostert has been the biggest story, as he has averaged 6.9 yards or better in each of the last three games. He has also scored at least one touchdown in each of those games and scored twice last week against the Saints. Mostert is emerging as the go-to back for the 49ers as they prepare for a playoff run.

Matt Breida is back and looks fully recovered from an ankle injury that has hampered him for a portion of the season. His big play abilities will also be important as the 49ers look to control the game on the ground. Tevin Coleman hasn't had a good week since his 105 yard rushing day against the Carolina Panthers in Week 8. This could be a week to get him some carries and allow him to get some quality yards and confidence back, even if it just means giving Breida and Mostert breathers. You can never have too many good running backs and it will be important to make Coleman a bigger part of this offense again.

Hopefully things will go well enough that we will see Jeff Wilson Jr. get some carries late in the game as the 49ers try to run out the clock and play the reserves.

2) Pressure Matt Ryan


The Falcons may not be competing for the postseason, but they do have some talent on the offensive side of the ball. Despite several starters missing the game for the 49ers' defense, the front seven needs to find a way to get to Matt Ryan and at the very least, get the defense off the field.

The defensive line is still very good and should be able to beat an offensive line that has two rookies on it. Atlanta has given up 41 sacks so far, including 16 over the last 3 weeks. Starting guard James Carpenter will miss the game due to a concussion. This could be a week where we see the defensive line get back on track and not allow Ryan to pick apart the defense.

3) Jump Out Early


While it will be important to run the football, the most important thing will be to get and build an early lead. That may require the passing game to come out sharp. Jimmy Garoppolo has taken his game to a new level over these last few weeks and should be able to punish the 21st ranked defense of the Falcons.

Atlanta is also ranked 24th against the pass and with Marcus Trufant out at corner, the 49ers' receivers and George Kittle should all have opportunities to get involved early, make some big plays, and build a lead.

Not allowing a letdown on offense should enable the Niners to come away with a win.

4) Take Care of the Football and Control the Clock


Jumping out to an early lead and running the football should enable the 49ers to control the clock and make this as short of a game as possible. Another huge factor in this will be to take care of the football. The 49ers' offense must not allow Atlanta opportunities to stay in the game or even take the lead after a turnover.

If the 49ers don't commit a turnover and the running game is effective, this is a game the 49ers can dominate and end quickly.