49ers vs. Falcons: Final Grades, Analysis for San Francisco

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49ers vs. Falcons: Final Grades, Analysis for San Francisco
Just call me Grady.

And they've done it! 

The 49ers came back from an early 17-0 deficit on the road and have prevailed 28-24 at the Georgia Dome, shutting out the Falcons 14-0 in the second half to steal the game. 

They did it by and large due to two factors: 1) They were the more balanced team on offense, able to effectively mix the run and the pass and their unpredictability in that regard kept the Falcons off balance on defense and Atlanta just couldn't deal with all their weapons. 2) They were able to snuff a couple of promising Falcons drives with lucky takeaways, first by intercepting Matt Ryan on a play where intended receiver Roddy White slipped and the second by pouncing on a loose ball when Ryan took his eye off a shotgun snap. 

Good teams capitalize on breaks and the 49ers did in both instances. 

It's a credit to them to not get down on themselves early facing a huge deficit and no doubt they were heartened by the fact that the Seahawks came back from 27-7 down in the fourth quarter against this same Falcons outfit the week before. 

The 49ers advance to their first Super Bowl since 1995 and their sixth overall as a franchise. They've won the previous five. Coach Jim Harbaugh gets the team to the big game in just his second season and now once and for all his decision to go with Colin Kaepernick over Alex Smith as his starting quarterback can't be questioned, as Kaepernick played a smart and composed game and did his part in guiding the offense to four touchdowns. 

Harbaugh will know in a few short hours whether he and his coaching staff will be game-planning for a rematch with the New England Patriots or whether he'll be coaching against his brother John and the Ravens in the "Har-Bowl." 

What we do know for sure is that the 49ers were the deserved victors in the game. Their defense was more physical and resilient, their offense was more balanced and varied and their coaches made the better half time adjustments. They were the better team on paper all along and proved to be the better team in the game over the long run after Atlanta got off to a quick start. 

The Falcons have a great QB in Matt Ryan and three terrific receivers, but they're just not a very complete team and their defense looks rather mediocre in retrospect for a number one seed. Their loss likely prevents the Super Bowl from being a one-sided snoozer. 

San Francisco 28

Atlanta 24


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