By TED SILLANPAA
Did you read the story about keys to the NFC Championship game in Tuesday’s edition of The Press Democrat? It was written by a Falcons beat writer and explained what will be keys for Atlanta to defeat the 49ers on Sunday.
I’m not going to rush out and bet the 49ers at -3 points, but we all might give some thought to the things the Falcons’ writer mentioned and, maybe, set aside a couple bucks to put on the Niners later in the week.
While the 49ers can rely on a brilliant set of linebackers, the Falcons apparently are counting on the fact they “play well with a chip on their shoulder.”
Really? The beat writer’s a talented guy who once covered the 49ers. So, we could assume he knows that the metaphorical “chip” on a team’s collective shoulders will get knocked to the artificial turf in the first quarter by Patrick Willis or, maybe, one of those 49ers’ bone-crushing safeties.
The home field advantage will be important to Atlanta, the guy wrote.
The home field advantage that will put Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, LaMichael James, Vernon Davis and the rest on a field untouched by rain or mud? There won’t be any wind. It won’t be cold. If anything, seems like playing in a dome strengthens the 49ers. If it’s possible, Kaepernick will be even faster in the Georgia Dome than he was in Candlestick Park.
The offensive coordinator needs to be more aggressive! Man. Don’t you hate it when your team’s offensive coordinator winds up having anything at all to do with keys to the game? The 49ers will send Willis, Aldon Smith & Co. after Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan. While those guys are flying at Ryan with bad intentions, the key will be the OC coming up with increasingly aggressive plans to attack down the field? Good luck with that.
The Falcons have one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL. So, a key is reportedly going to be the return to health of their best pass rusher. Seems like getting one guy back who might put just a little bit of heat on Kaepernick won’t mean much. The 49ers generate a pass rush with four linemen. They lost Justin Smith and still generated a pass rush. The Falcons pass rush will be key, but … it seems like wishful thinking to imagine one man’s return to the worst pass rush remaining in the playoffs will make any difference.
If those are the keys to the Falcons ability to beat the 49ers — a chip on their shoulder, the dome, etc. — the Niners are in really good shape.