On Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons will host a San Francisco 49ers team that could give anyone nightmares. The Falcons had little time to celebrate their miraculous win over the Seattle Seahawks with an even larger game looming. The Seahawks gave the Falcons all they could handle. Now, they face a team similar to the Seahawks. Only better.
And Falcons head coach Mike Smith knows it.
Dan Matthews of Atlanta's 92.9 The Game had a chance to speak with Smith on Monday morning. Matthews reported Monday afternoon that Smith had been very candid with him. Matthews said that Smith admitted he had not slept well and had reported to Flowery Branch even earlier than usual.
Smith was already breaking down the 49ers game.
Falcons Weakness vs. 49ers Strength
In 2012, the Falcons have had no bigger Achilles' heel than mobile quarterbacks. They found Cam Newton nearly unstoppable not once but twice. Robert Griffin III troubled the Falcons until he was literally knocked out of the game. And just two days ago, Russell Wilson had one of the greatest fourth quarters of all time.
Now the Falcons will face Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick is coming off a record-setting performance against the Green Bay Packers. Kaepernick proved to be the best of both worlds against the Packers. Kaepernick the passer put up 263 yards and two touchdowns. Kaepernick the rusher gained 181 yards and added two more touchdowns.
The potential problems do not end there. Athletic tight ends give the Falcons defense fits. The Falcons struggled to contain Jason Witten and Jimmy Graham during the season. Those were big names. Against the Seahawks, the Falcons had no answer for unheralded Zach Miller. Miller torched the Falcons for 142 yards.
Now the Falcons face Vernon Davis. Davis in one of the better tight ends in the game today. While Kaepernick has not targeted Davis in the past, the 49ers might try to mimic the Seahawks success.
Stopping the 49ers offense becomes essential when considering how stingy and talented their defense is.
Treating A Win as a Loss
Mike Smith's insomnia and salvation might have the same origin. With 31 seconds left against the Seahawks, the Falcons had lost the game.
This is where Smith should begin building the plan for the 49ers. Shining the spotlight on mistakes make them easier to correct. Smith can use the temporary heartbreak of the Seahawks' go-ahead touchdown to motivate players in practice. He can nip any overconfidence before it is too late.
What about the Falcons' own incredible comeback?
Smith will keep that trump card in his hand. Smith might not have to use it. But if all seems lost, Smith will have one last card to inspire his team to greatness.