49ers vs. Falcons: Why Cordarrelle Patterson is a problem for San Francisco

Cordarrelle Patterson #84 of the Atlanta Falcons (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Cordarrelle Patterson #84 of the Atlanta Falcons (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

1 p.m. ET. Sunday, Oct. 16. 2-3. 44. 3-2. 42. Fox. 49ers -5.5

The 49ers should overmatch the Falcons in Week 6, but Cordarrelle Patterson and a potent Atlanta run game could prove to be a challenge.

Editor’s update: Patterson has since been placed on IR, but he could have been a massive threat to San Francisco had he been healthy.

No defense in the NFL has been better against the run than that of the San Francisco 49ers, who after five weeks, have allowed opponents to rush for a mere 3.0 yards per carry.

Well, the Niners are No. 1 in the league for most defensive rankings anyway, but a stout run defense has been a calling card for coordinator DeMeco Ryans dating back to the halfway point of last season.

Yet that statistic and standing are going to be put to the test with San Francisco’s second of two East Coast road games, Week 6’s tilt against the 2-3 Atlanta Falcons.

Despite entering 2022 with arguably the weakest overall roster in the NFL, Atlanta has been a surprising challenge over the course of the year, and head coach Arthur Smith should receive plenty of credit for essentially having his team play better than it otherwise should be on paper.

And one of the means by which he’s had success is because of the versatile running back, Cordarrelle Patterson.

49ers to face a strong Falcons run game in Week 6

The 49ers are coming off a domination of the offensively weak Carolina Panthers in Week 5, and while Atlanta still lacks a sizable crop of offensive playmakers, its offense nevertheless is ranked 10th in scoring heading into this game with 118 points scored.

In contrast, the Niners have scored 108, tied for 16th.

Yet it’s the Falcons’ ground game that is of interest, thanks in large part to Patterson, and his team currently ranks third in the league in total rush yards (823) and is tied for seventh in yards per attempt (5.1).

Smith is going to deploy Patterson frequently during the game in order to pound down San Francisco’s otherwise stifling defense. And with the 49ers already dealing with some notable injuries to their defensive line, including defensive tackle Arik Armstead (foot) who won’t play on Sunday, ensuring Patterson doesn’t take over the game will be a vital focal point for Ryans and Co.

49ers may be first team to see Cordarrelle Patterson’s dual-threat capabilities this season

It’s interesting to note the Niners were once linked to Patterson as a possible dual-threat kind of player in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense, perhaps a “poor man’s version” of what San Francisco has in wide receiver Deebo Samuel.

And while Samuel received all the praise and attention for his wide-back usage in 2021, Patterson wasn’t too far behind in that regard.

After all, the latter racked up 618 rush yards and 548 receiving yards last season for a total of 1,116 yards from scrimmage and 11 all-purpose touchdowns.

Yet one might assume the Falcons aren’t using Patterson in that manner this year, as he’s only recorded four catches for 28 yards despite boasting a team-high 340 rush yards on 58 carries.

Perhaps Smith unleashes Patterson for this Week 6 contest, though.

A year ago, the 49ers did a good job bottling up Patterson and preventing him from being an X-factor when Atlanta visited the Niners at Levi’s Stadium in Week 15. Patterson had only 18 yards on 11 carries, and he also managed just two catches for 5 total yards.

That’s the kind of effort San Francisco will need to produce if it hopes to negate Patterson’s prowess once again, as he serves as one of those Falcons players who could derail the 49ers’ chances of going to 4-2 on the season.

The Niners and Falcons kick off on Sunday, Oct. 16 at 1 p.m. ET from Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

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