49ers grades, analysis from injury-influenced Week 6 loss to Falcons
By Peter Panacy
49ers defensive grades vs. Falcons
It might not have been too big a shock to see Atlanta outperform the 49ers on offense, but what was a bit shocking was to see the Falcons play much better on the defensive side of the ball, too.
Granted, the Niners were missing six defensive starters for Week 6: Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw, Jimmie Ward, Azeez Al-Shaair and Emmanuel Moseley, the latter being out for the year after tearing his ACL last week.
Needless to say, the depth was going to be tested, and it was.
San Francisco’s lone starter on the defensive line was Samson Ebukam, and even he had to exit the game periodically to deal with injuries.
With Bosa out, the D-line struggled to contain the edge, which allowed the Falcons to rush for a whopping 168 yards, and one would have to go back to Week 13 of the 2021 season to find the last time the 49ers surrendered more than 100 yards in a game.
Sure, reserve linemen like Hassan Ridgeway, Kevin Givens and Charles Omenihu have been nice stories this season, the Niners aren’t going to be able to rely on them as a starting-caliber crop.
At least Omenihu and rookie Drake Jackson recorded a sack apiece, though.
Knowing Atlanta was going to focus on the run a lot in the game, San Francisco’s shorthanded linebacker corps had to be on its game.
Fred Warner was his usual All-Pro self, leading the 49ers with tackles, while Dre Greenlaw had six.
Still, that second-level tackling had to be on point and not far beyond the line of scrimmage.
The fact the Falcons were able to average 4.2 yards per rush suggests this group wasn’t quite equal to that task over all four quarters.
It was going to be interesting to see how the Niners mitigated the loss of Moseley, and Deommodore Lenoir got the start on the boundary.
As such, Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota didn’t hesitate to target both him and rookie corner Samuel Womack, the latter being responsible for the touchdown allowed to tight end Kyle Pitts.
Making things worse, safety Talanoa Hufanga exited the game for a brief time in the first quarter, leading to his temporary replacement, George Odum, giving up Mariota’s first passing touchdown of the game, too.
Still worse, No. 1 cornerback Charvarius Ward had to exit with a leg injury.
Atlanta isn’t a passing team. But, the fact Mariota didn’t register his first incompletion until near the 10-minute mark of the fourth quarter and the fact the Falcons had an average of 7.6 yards per pass play isn’t a sign of confidence for this group.