49ers vs. Falcons: San Francisco's Quest for 6 Inches Closer as Atlanta Falters

Tyson LanglandNFC West Lead WriterJanuary 20, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 20:  (L-R)  Practice squad player Nate Stupar and guard Leonard Davis #68 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrate after the 49ers defesnse stops the Atlanta Falcons on fourth down in the fourth quarter in the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on January 20, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After finding themselves down 17-0, the San Francisco 49ers' backs were against the wall as they tried to scratch and claw their way out of the bottomless pit they created. Eventually they started to make headway midway through the second quarter.

An 11-play, 85-yard drive cut the score to 10 points after LaMichael James burst through the line for a 15-yard touchdown run. The following Falcons possession spanned a measly four plays while picking up 20 yards, which in turn left the door open as San Francisco would now have plenty of time to score before the half.

And score before halftime they did—four explosive plays from Colin Kaepernick helped the 49ers put together a seven-play, 76-yard drive. A 19-yard pass to Vernon Davis got Greg Roman's offense out of the shadow of their own goal.

Two plays later, a 23-yard scramble from the second-year pro out of Nevada helped the 49ers effectively move into enemy territory. Then to finish off the drive, Kaepernick hit a wide-open Davis two plays in a row.

A scoreless, 17-point deficit was now a field goal away from being tied.

Yet that didn't mean the Falcons were going to go away without a fight. Just as Matt Ryan came up big with 31 seconds left to play last week against the Seahawks, he did it again this week at the end of the first half.

Obviously, the implications in last week's game decided an outcome—nevertheless Ryan's impressive drive with less than two minutes left to play helped Atlanta regain a two-score lead. Seventy-five yards passing on six completions with only one incompletion merits a bit of praise.

Unfortunately for Mike Smith and company, Vic Fangio's defense decided to make the proper halftime adjustments by putting Roddy White and Julio Jones on lockdown. Containing Atlanta's two most dangerous weapons resulted in zero second-half points for the Falcons.

Not to mention turnovers on back-to-back drives in the third quarter sucked the life out of the Georgia Dome. From that point on, the Falcons were unable to retain momentum as the 49ers scored on the go-ahead touchdown with 8:23 left to play.

Two weeks in a row Kaepernick had to overcome adversity in the fourth quarter. Last week against the Packers, an opening series pick-six didn't stop him from hanging 45 on Green Bay and a scoreless first quarter today didn't stop him from a relentless comeback.

There's no question this team is in good hands going forward as its quest for six Super Bowls has taken one of the last steps before becoming a reality. Maybe today's performance will finally put all the Alex Smith talk to bed.

In his first-year as the starter, Kaepernick has already taken this team farther than Smith ever did. His resiliency is unwavering and his multi-dimensional play on offense could bring the 49ers their first Super Bowl victory since 1994.


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