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On Falcons vs 49ers 2013: Bill Barnwell says Niners baby!

On Falcons vs 49ers Bill Barnwell says Niners baby


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Kaepernick has 8 starts. Which means that, although he's inexperienced, defenses have no experience against him, too. His great weakness is also a source of strength.

Which San Francisco team will show up on Sunday? The awesome one or the awful one?

It's fair to say that the San Francisco 49ers looked pretty good last week. How good? Facing off against a quarterback who is 34-6 [1] at home during his professional career, they're about to be the biggest road favorites in a conference championship since 1978. [2] That's how good they looked. And yet, there are reasons to wonder whether they'll be that same team again this week. This is the same team that summarily dispatched 2011 playoff teams in consecutive weeks to start the season before losing by double digits to the Vikings, the same one that then destroyed the Jets and Bills by a combined 76 points before getting blown out by 23 points at home by the Giants, the team that went up 31-3 on the Patriots and was outscored by 50 points over its next six quarters.

Jekyll and Hyde isn't a 49ers thing; it's a football truth. There have been 29 instances of what the 49ers did last week — win by 14 or more points as a 2.5-to-3.5-point favorite — since 1978, and in the following playoff game, those teams went 14-15. Momentum doesn't mean anything heading into the playoffs, and it doesn't mean anything when you get there. You don't get to take your points with you to the next round.

So, does that all guarantee a Falcons victory? Well, not so fast. After all, the 49ers looked pretty damn good last week.


You're never as good as you looked last week in the playoffs, but the 49ers were also a better team during the season, especially after Kaepernick got under center. I think they'll slow down the Atlanta running game and stop the Falcons on third down more often than they get beat. And even if Kaepernick doesn't run his way into the history books for a second consecutive week, the absence of Abraham means that Kaepernick should have enough time to find Crabtree and — yes — even Vernon Davis. It'll be closer than the public perception of the matchup has suggested, but I think the 49ers pull it out. San Francisco 27, Atlanta 24.

I think it will be close, too...

Much excellent analysis in the Grantland article:

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