For the second straight year the San Francisco 49ers will be appearing in the NFC Championship, and the 14th time in franchise history, as they go up against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. The last time the 49ers appeared in back-to-back NFC Championship games was in 1992-1994. With a win over the Falcons, San Francisco will advance to the Super Bowl for the sixth time and the first time since 1994.
The 49ers head into the game as four point favorites over the Falcons despite playing on the road. San Francisco is favored to win because of the play of Colin Kaepernick and the Niners stout defense. Kaepernick set the NFL single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 181 yards in route to the 49ers 45-31 victory over the Green Bay Packers. The Niners D held Aaron Rodgers to 194 passing yards, a 78.8 rating and only allowed Green Bay’s offense to score 17 points.
For the Falcons, they dominated the first half of their game against the Seattle Seahawks last week, only to give up a 20-point lead and almost losing for the fourth consecutive time in the playoffs. After all the twists and turns, the Falcons prevailed to go to their first NFC Championship Game since 1998.
Once again the 49ers rushing attack will be leading the way and they will be able to run all over the Falcons defense. Kaepernick will be just as exciting making plays again with his arm and legs. Falcons QB Matt Ryan will make some big plays in the game, but the Niners D will be able to keep in check Atlanta’s potent passing offense to only a few touchdown scores.
Final score: 49ers 27-Falcons 20
From 1970 until 2001, the 49ers and Falcons were division rivals facing each other twice a year in the NFC West. In 2002 the Falcons moved to the newly created NFC South along with the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers who also played in the NFC West.
The 49ers dominated the Falcons when they played in the NFC West, but they have lost the last four games against Atlanta. The only postseason meeting between the two teams was the NFC Divisional Round in 1998, with the Falcons winning 20-18. The lasting memory I have from the game is running back Garrison Hearst suffering a devastating ankle injury on the first play of the game. Ironically, the loss to the Falcons in 1998 came after the 49ers beat the Packers with The Catch II. Hopefully the result will be different this time around.
The 49ers have a 5-8 record all-time playing in the Georgia Dome.
49ers vs. Falcons
Postseason Matchups: 1
Series Record: 49ers lead series 44-30-1
Postseason Series Record: Falcons lead series 1-0
49ers Home Record vs. Falcons: 49ers lead series 26-11
49ers Postseason Home Record vs. Falcons: None
49ers Away Record vs. Falcons: Falcons lead series 18-9-1
49ers Postseason Away Record vs. Falcons: Falcons lead series 1-0
First Meeting: October 16, 1966, 49ers win 44-7, at Atlanta
First Postseason Meeting: January 9, 1999, Falcons win 20-18, at Atlanta (NFC Divisional Round)
Last Meeting: October 3, 2010, Falcons win 16-14, at Atlanta
Last Postseason Meeting: January 9, 1999, Falcons win 20-18, at Atlanta (NFC Divisional Round)
Current Streak: Lost 4
Current Postseason Streak: Lost 1
Longest 49ers Win Streak: 5 – 3 times (Last September 29, 1996 – September 27, 1998)
Longest Postseason 49ers Win Streak: None
Longest Falcons Win Streak: 4 – 2 times (Last September 12, 2004 – October 3, 2010)
Most 49ers Points: 56 – (October 18, 1992), 56-17, at San Francisco
Most Postseason 49ers Points: 18, (January 9, 1999), 20-18 at Atlanta (NFC Divisional Round)
Most Falcons Points: 45 – (October 11, 2009), 45-10, at Atlanta
Most Postseason Falcons Points: 20, (January 9, 1999), 20-18 at Atlanta (NFC Divisional Round)
49ers Shutouts: 4 – (Last November 23, 1986), 49ers win 20-0, at San Francisco
Postseason 49ers Shutouts: None
Falcons Shutouts: 2 – (Last 10/9/77), Falcons win 7-0, at San Francisco
Postseason Falcons Shutouts: None
49ers NFC Championship Numbers
NFC Con. Champ. Games: 13
49ers Record: 5-8 (Home: 4-5/ Away: 1-3)
First Game: 49ers loss 17-10 vs. Dallas (January 3, 1971)
Last Game: 49ers loss 20-17 (OT) vs. New York Giants (January 22, 2012)
Current Streak: Lost 2
Longest SF Win Streak: 3 (January 6, 1985-January 14, 1990)
Last SF Home Win: 49ers win 38-28 vs. Dallas (January 15, 1995)
Last SF Home Loss: Giants win 20-17 (OT) (January 22, 2012)
Last SF Road Win: 49ers win 28-3 at Chicago (January 8, 1989)
Last SF Road Loss: Cowboys win 38-21 at Dallas (January 23, 1994)
Most SF Points: 38; 49ers win 38-28 vs. Dallas (January 15, 1995)
Most Opp. Points: 38; Cowboys win 38-21 at Dallas (January 23, 1994)
Total SF Points: 262
Total Opp. Points: 242
Average SF Points: 20.2
Average Opp. Points: 18.6
Largest SF Win: 27; 49ers win 30-3 vs. L.A. Rams (January 14, 1990)
Largest Opp. Win: 17; Cowboys win 38-21 at Dallas (January 23, 1994)
49ers NFC Championship History
Season (Date) W/L Score
1970 (January 3): Loss Dallas 17, San Francisco 10
1971 (January 2): Loss Dallas 14, San Francisco 3
1981 (January 10): Win San Francisco 28, Dallas 27
1983 (January 8): Loss Washington 24, San Francisco 21
1984 (January 6): Win San Francisco 23, Chicago 0
1988 (January 8): Win San Francisco 28, Chicago 3
1989 (January 14): Win San Francisco 30, L.A. Rams 3
1990 (January 20): Loss New York Giants 15, San Francisco 13
1992 (January 17): Loss Dallas 30, San Francisco 20
1993 (January 23): Loss Dallas 38, San Francisco 21
1994 (January 15): Win San Francisco 38, Dallas 28
1997 (January 11): Loss Green Bay 23, San Francisco 10
2011 (January 22): Loss New York Giants 20, San Francisco 17 (OT)
49ERS (rank) FALCONS (rank)
11-4-1 (1st NFC West) Record 13-3 (1st NFC South)
24.8 (11th) Points Per Game 26.2 (7th)
361.8 (11th) Total Offense 369.1 (8th)
155.7 (4th) Rushing Offense 87.3 (29th)
206.1 (23rd) Passing Offense 281.8 (6th)
30:49 (10th) Possession Average 30:52 (9th)
17.1 (2nd) Points Allowed Per Game 18.7 (5th)
294.4 (3rd) Total Defense 365.6 (24th)
94.2 (4th) Rushing Defense 123.2 (21st)
200.2 (4th) Passing Defense 242.4 (23rd)
38 (t-11th) Sacks 29 (28th)
14 (t-16th) Interceptions 20 (t-5th)
48.1 (3rd) Punting Avg. (Gross) 45.6 (18th)
+9 (t-8th) Turnover Differential +13 (t-5th)
- 14: San Francisco will be appearing in their 14th NFC Championship Game.
- 323: The 49ers 323 rushing yards. vs. Green Bay last week are the 5th most in a single postseason game in NFL history.
- 100: The 49ers became the first team in NFL history to ever have two, 100-yard rushers [QB Colin Kaepernick (181 yards rushing), RB Frank Gore (119 yards rushing)] and one, 100-yard receiver [WR Michael Crabtree (119 yards receiving)] in a playoff game.
- 8: Head coach Jim Harbaugh became the 8th head coach in NFL history to reach the conference or league championship in each of his first two seasons. George Seifert is one the coaches.
- 45: The 49ers scored 45 points vs. the Packers which was the 3rd most points in franchise postseason history.
- 5: The 49ers were one of just 3 NFL teams this season to have the same starting 5 offensive linemen in every game.
- 36: The 49ers defense allowed just 36 drives to reach the red zone this season, ranking 1st in the NFL.
- 1: Michael Crabtree ranked first in the NFL for 3rd-down touchdowns with 5 this season.
- 10: Dashon Goldson had a season high 10 tackles at Atlanta in a game in the 2010 season.
- 60: Frank Gore had 6 receptions for 60 yards in the same game versus the Falcons.
- 90: Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez (93) and WR Roddy White (92) each had over 90 receptions this season
- 32: In 32 games under head coach Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers have not committed a turnover in 14 games, ranking t-1st in the NFL.
- 56: Kaepernick’s 56-yd. TD run last week marked the longest run by a QB in franchise postseason history and the 3rd longest overall.
- 25: Kaepernick became the youngest 49ers starting QB to make his playoff debut (25 years, 2 months, 9 days). QB Joe Montana was previously the youngest starting QB to make his playoff debut.
- 49ers LB Aldon Smith, Falcons TE Chase Coffman, S William Moore and LB Sean Weatherspoon, were teammates at the University of Missouri in 2008.
- 49ers CB Tarell Brown and Falcons G Justin Blalock played their entire career together at the University of Texas from 2003-2006.
- 49ers LB Ahmad Brooks was teammates with Falcons RB Jason Snelling at the University of Virginia from 2002-2004.
- 49ers LB Tavares Gooden and Falcons P Matt Bosher played together at the University of Miami from 2006-2007.
- Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan was the 49ers head coach from 2005-2008.
- 49ers special teams coordinator/assistant head coach Brad Seely worked with Falcons defensive line coach Ray Hamilton in New England during the 1999 season.
- 49ers quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst was on the Carolina Panthers staff with Falcons secondary coach Tim Lewis from 2007-2008.
- 49ers offensive line coach Mike Solari and Tim Lewis were both on the Seattle Seahawks staff in 2009.
- Secondary coach Ed Donatell was the defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons from 2004-2006.
- FB Bruce Miller is from Woodstock, GA and attended Woodstock HS.
- CB Carlos Rogers is from Augusta, GA and attended Butler HS.
- Falcons’ offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter held the same position at San Francisco State in 1985.
- Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez attended the University of California where he played football and basketball.
- Falcons S Thomas DeCoud attended Pinole Valley High School in Pinole, CA and then went on to star at the University of California.
- Falcons CB Chris Owens attended San Jose State.