Do you smell that?
It's a weird smell of confidence coming from Atlanta. They are coming off a huge road win against the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. They are looking primed to be a true contender in the NFC and it shows in their play.
So why on earth am I writing an article that the 49ers can pull off a huge road upset?
Because this whole situation stinks of an upset. Think about this. You have in one corner a team that is 0-3, down in the dumps, just fired their offensive coordinator, and looks to be in total shambles.
In the other corner, you have a 2-1 (almost 3-0 team barring one long overtime run) team who just took out the biggest contention in their own division who's riding a wave of emotion and preparing to honor some great former Falcon Pro Bowlers in front of a raging Atlanta home crowd.
Doesn't sound like an upset? That's exactly why it should be looked at with great potential.
San Francisco is much better than their record reflects. They took the Saints the distance in prime-time. They've got talent laid all around on that squad. They have a head coach who can get them fired up. It's not as if they are some bum squad with gaping holes all around. When this team wants to play, they can compete with anyone. They have arguably the best LB in the game right now in Patrick Willis. They have a monster run game with Frank Gore.
So how will the upset happen? I'm glad you asked.
San Francisco has the type of personnel to collapse that pocket early on Matt Ryan and keep Mike Turner bottled up. They can bring pressure from various angles and get Ryan well out of his comfort zone. They can take Roddy White out of the game and force them to beat them through other routes. Now, the Falcons do have Tony Gonzalez who is a great TE. San Fran has a healthy LB corp to keep him at bay as well. Plus, with the amount of pressure San Fran can generate, they might be forced to leave Gonzalez in more for blocking than out for receptions.
Offensively, I don't think that the Falcons can truly stop Frank Gore once he starts going. If they're forced to pass, Vernon Davis is a mismatch against anyone on that Atlanta defense.
This team can pull it off. They aren't injured, they're in a funk. Teams can shake off that funk with a good road win. This has the potential to turn the entire season around for the 49ers, who I still believe can win the NFC West. It's not like they have some stiff competition there, every team has some serious question marks surrounding them.
It's going to be on Mike Singletary and new offensive coordinator Mike Johnson to get this team absolutely fired up. The 49ers season is riding on this game, and I think Samurai Mike will make it a point that this is drilled into each players head. Desperation is a much heavier motivation factor than happiness, and I think you'll see that this Sunday.