Week 15 at Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, December 18 at 4:05 p.m. ET
What team will the 49ers see when they play the Atlanta Falcons in Week 15? Atlanta got off to the hottest of starts in 2015, but the Niners shut down then-leading rusher Devonta Freeman in Week 9 in a 17-16 victory.
Freeman will remain a factor, and can quarterback Matt Ryan continue his prowess now that he’s on the wrong side of 30 years old?
The Falcons offense was pretty interesting a year ago. By year’s end, this unit ranked No. 7 in the league with over 5,900 yards gained but only ranked 21st in total points scored (339).
Atlanta boasted a middle-of-the-pack defense as well, and it’s a unit with plenty of questions entering 2016 — most notably, in the secondary.
Why the 49ers Win
The 49ers will have to replicate their efforts against Freeman from a year ago but also ensure wide receiver Julio Jones isn’t a major factor. Aside from free-agent acquisition, wideout Muhamed Sanu, but there aren’t exactly a lot of options for Ryan here.
San Francisco will have to take advantage of Atlanta’s secondary frequently and often, so this might be a case where we see a heavy dose of pass-first attack schemes from head coach Chip Kelly.
A suspect defensive line and revamped linebacker corps could mean the Falcons aren’t able to pressure at the point of attack, which could mean a nice passing day for the 49ers.
Why the 49ers Lose
Ryan is still Ryan, and his 96.3 career passer rating at home is enough to suggest he’ll have a good day under center.
Atlanta’s best weapon is its offensive line — a unit which Pro Football Focus ranked fifth in the league entering 2016. The O-line maintains its solid pass-blocking efficiency, which allows Ryan to do his work. And this group is equally as solid in run support.
The Niners defense struggles to get off the field, and no amount of questions within the Falcons defense provide the 49ers with scoring opportunities to equal Atlanta’s efforts.
Next: Week 16 at Los Angeles Rams