This is the final part of the 2013 49ers opponent breakdown series. For the last regular season game in Candlestick Park history, the 49ers will host the Atlanta Falcons in Week 16 on Monday Night Football.
2012 Record: 13-3 (1st in NFC South)
Last Postseason Meeting: 49ers won 28-24 @ Atlanta on 1/20/13
Last Regular Season Meeting: Falcons won 16-14 @ Atlanta on 10/3/10
2013 schedule: Week 15 @ San Francisco
Top 3 best players: QB Matt Ryan, TE Tony Gonzalez, WR Roddy White
Notable draft picks: CB Desmond Trufant, CB Robert Alford, DE Malliciah Goodman, TE Levine Toilolo
Notable offseason additions: RB Steven Jackson, DE Osi Umenyiora
Notable offseason departures: CB Dunta Robinson, OT Tyson Clabo, OT Will Svitek
The Falcons are hungry for a Super Bowl championship after having three consecutive postseason appearances from 2010-2012. In two of the last three years, the won the NFC South division with a 13-3 record.
Passing offense has always been a strength of the Falcons with Matt Ryan throwing to WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones. Sixteen-year veteran and 10 time All-Pro TE Tony Gonzalez was considering retirement after having a career 2012 season with the Falcons. He signed a two-year deal coming off a season with 930 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
The front-seven was the biggest strength of the Falcons defense and with no key losses, it will only be stronger with the pickup of Osi Umenyiora added to the mix. The upgrades that have been needed are in the secondary as they were ranked at the bottom half of the league in that department.
In the 2013 NFL Draft, the Falcons drafted CBs Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford in hopes of filling in the only notable loss in Dunta Robinson. Asante Samuel is still a solid CB and the Falcons hope to find another starting cornerback to play opposite side of him.
The 49ers and Falcons have played down to the wire in the last two meetings and this one should be no different. Both teams have shown sides of starting strong but need to finish a game just as effectively. In 2010, the game came down to a late field goal which Matt Bryan nailed from 43 yards with two seconds left. The NFC Championship game was decided with a furious 49ers comeback win and it took a defensive stand in the final two minutes for the 49ers to advance to their sixth Super Bowl in team history.
This is the final regular season game in Candlestick Park history, but it won’t be an easy test. This game could decide who has a higher seeding for the NFL playoffs with both teams expecting to make the postseason this year. It will be a valid test and it should prepare both teams for a playoff type of atmosphere in this late season battle.