Falcons get one first down before Matt Ryan threw short and out of bounds on a 3rd and 11. A couple passes to Anquan Boldin, including a 15-yard strike on a third down, put the 49ers inside the Atlanta 40. A Kaepernick scramble on a 3rd and 2 fell short so San Francisco settled for a 49-yard Phil Dawson field goal.
The next Atlanta drive featured Matt Ryan attempting a hilariously ugly shovel pass then a nice completion to Tony Gonzalez on third down that was naturally a few yards shirt of a first down. Michael Crabtree limped to the sidelines after drawing an offensive pass interference penalty on the next Niners drive. A 17-yard pass to Kassim Osgood sets up a 3rd and 1, on which San Francisco opts for a play action that ends with a Kaepernick sack.
Donte Whitner was flagged for a hit on Steven Jackson in the flat for unsportsmanlike conduct. Certainly a problematic ruling since Whitner’s form was near perfect on the hit. If the determination that Jackson was a defenseless receiver, then it just illustrates how deeply difficult it is to play defense in those circumstances. Either way, a painful penalty to watch and it set up a Jackson touchdown run to give Atlanta a 7-3 lead.
Following that decent opening drive, the Niners offense was sluggish at best. The teams traded possessions, then San Francisco took over with just over three minutes in the half. They went three-and-out again, only to set the Falcons up for a 35-yard field goal to go up a touchdown at half.
If the result holds, there will effectively be three playoff games in Week 17, with 49ers-Cardinals joining Eagles-Cowboys and Packers-Bears.