Will the Falcons try to run over the 49ers like they did against New Orleans? Or like last year will Atlanta try to beat the 49ers with speed?

While the team obviously focused on their sluggish offense this week with the firing of offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, the defense struggled just as much through the first three games. Greg Manusky’s unit is designed to stop the run, but last week Chiefs Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles went over 90 yards each.

Here’s what to look for with the Falcons:

Tony Gonzalez is still a threat.

– Quarterback Matt Ryan seems to handle the blitz well.

-The 49ers aren’t the only team that go a lot with two tight ends, Atlanta might do it more than the 49ers with Justin Peele and Tony Gonzalez.

-Gonzalez is still really good, he’ll beat man coverage whether it’s a safety, linebacker or cornerback.

-The Falcons have young safeties that can get confused. The 49ers should vary their offensive formations, which was one reason Mike Johnson was promoted to offensive coordinator.

-Right guard Harvey Dahl might be the dirtiest player in the league. But the former 49er (they tried him at tackle and he wasn’t quick enough) is also excellent as a pulling blocker.

-Fullback Ovie Mugheli might be the best lead blocker in the league.

-The Falcons like to go with bunch formations a lot and then throw underneath.

-They say Johnson likes mismatches, one might be trying to take advantage of aging left cornerback Dunta Robinson.

-Atlanta might try to run more, particularly now that the 49ers don’t have strong safety Michael Lewis.

Note: Something interesting came out of a casual conversation with punter Andy Lee this week. We were talking about Saints kicker Garrett Hartley who hooked a 27-yard field goal that could have beat the Falcons in overtime last Sunday. Lee said he thought Hartley did the same thing in his game-winner in week two over the 49ers, but that defensive tackle Ray McDonald re-directed the ball through the uprights when he got a hand on the kick. “I can’t tell you for sure,” Lee said, “but looking at the film, he might have hooked it.”

Posted By: Kevin Lynch (Email) | October 02 2010 at 05:58 PM
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