NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 15 Game Recap: San Francisco 49ers 31, Atlanta Falcons 13

Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) runs with the ball for a touchdown during the second quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

In a pivotal NFC matchup with playoff implications, the San Francisco 49ers got the upper hand, scoring a touchdown on four consecutive possessions to claim a 31-13 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

The 49ers averaged 7.1 yards per play, and four different players scored a touchdown.


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San Francisco 49ers

Quarterback

Jimmy Garoppolo put together one of his best stat lines of the season, finishing with 235 yards and a touchdown on 23 dropbacks. He made with one big-time throw and zero turnover-worthy plays to earn a season-high 90.6 passing grade, pending final review.

A lot of the work was done beyond the catch point, with 62% of his yards coming after the catch. Garoppolo finished the game averaging 9.8 yards per pass attempt despite his average depth of target being just six yards downfield. Still, he was on target all game and two of his five incompletions were registered as drops.

Running Back

The 49ers' ground game was the difference-maker, as the team combined for 162 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Jeff Wilson Jr. led the way with 21 carries for 110 yards and a score. Six of his carries moved the chains, and four gained at least 10 yards. 

In addition to making plays as a receiver, Deebo Samuel helped out on the ground, rushing six times for 29 yards and a score — his sixth consecutive game with a rushing touchdown. Kyle Juszczyk scored his first touchdown of the season from six yards out on his only carry of the game.

Player Attempts YPC TDs 1DTD%
Jeff Wilson Jr. 21 5.2 1 28.6%
Deebo Samuel 6 4.8 1 33.3%
JaMycal Hasty 1 13.0 0 100%
Kyle Juszczyk 1 6.0 1 100%
Wide Receiver/Tight End

If the game was closer, George Kittle would’ve gone for over 100 yards as he did the past two games. Nevertheless, Kittle still dominated, catching all six targets for 93 yards to earn a 90.0-plus receiving grade for the third consecutive game, upon first review. Four of his receptions gained a first down, and three went for over 15 yards.

Both of Samuel’s receptions went for over 20 yards each, while Jauan Jennings scored a touchdown for the second time this season.

Player Routes run Targets Yards EXPL YPRR
Brandon Aiyuk 24 2 36 1 1.50
Deebo Samuel 21 5 60 2 2.86
George Kittle 21 6 93 3 4.43
Jauan Jennings 15 6 28 1 1.87
Offensive Line

The offensive provided plenty of protection for Garoppolo to work in addition to creating running lanes on the ground. Trent Williams allowed the only pressure in pass protection, and if it stands, his 65.9 offensive grade would be his lowest-graded outing on the season.

Tom Compton finished the game as the highest-graded offensive lineman (88.3), upon first review.

Defensive Line

Nick Bosa had another dominant performance off the edge, creating seven pressures, including a sack, on 29 pass-rush snaps while also winning on 30% of his reps. Samson Ebukam and Arden Key combined for seven total pressures and two sacks in the win.

The defensive line combined for 22 pressures, 15 defensive stops and five tackles for loss or no gain.

Player Pass-rush snaps Sacks Pressures Win rate
Nick Bosa 29 1 7 30%
Arik Armstead 27 0 2 7.1%
D.J. Jones 22 0 2 13.6%
Samson Ebukam 21 1 3 22.7%
Arden Key 19 1 4 20%
Linebackers

Fred Warner played a big part in shutting down Cordarrelle Patterson and Mike Davis, forcing two defensive stops and making more positively graded plays against the run than negative ones. He finished the day with a season-high 86.5 run-defense grade on first review. Warner also gave up four receptions for 28 yards and one first down in coverage.

Secondary

The Falcons clearly felt they had a matchup advantage against cornerback Ambry Thomas, as Ryan attacked him multiple times throughout the games. Thomas gave up four receptions on six targets for 95 yards and a touchdown. Josh Norman allowed 65 yards, but nobody else conceded more than 30 yards in coverage. 

Jimmie Ward did force a defensive stop against the run near the goal line on fourth down to keep the game far out of reach.

Atlanta Falcons

Quarterback

Matt Ryan was under duress on nearly half of his dropbacks, but the veteran quarterback still managed to throw for 236 yards and a score in the loss. Ryan did have one of his most impressive downfield performances this season, as he completed seven passes beyond 10 yards, including the team’s only touchdown in the game.

Matt Ryan by Target Depth

Completion % Yards YPA Passer rating
9 yards or fewer 70.6% 56 3.3 74.6
10-19 yards 50% 41 6.8 72.2
20+ yards 80% 139 27.8 158.3
Running Back

Cordarrelle Patterson wasn’t nearly as effective against the 49ers as he has been all season. He averaged 1.6 yards per carry on 11 attempts. He broke zero tackles, and none of his attempts went for a first down or over 10 yards. Mike Davis was slightly more efficient on the ground, rushing for 21 yards on six attempts while forcing three missed tackles.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

Russell Gage has played valiantly since becoming the team’s No. 1 receiver, hauling in eight of his 11 targets for 91 yards and a score. Five of his receptions were in contested areas, including his touchdown catch. Olamide Zaccheaus caught two passes, and one went for a game-high 49 yards.

After being held to just 14 yards through three quarters, Kyle Pitts came alive in the fourth to finish with four receptions for 77 yards.

Player Targets Yards Contested catches YPR YPRR
Russell Gage 11 91 5 11.4 2.68
Kyle Pitts 7 77 2 19.3 2.33
Olamide Zaccheaus 2 53 1 26.5 2.30
Offensive Line

Kaleb McGary had a tough time at right tackle trying to contain Bosa. He gave up five pressures and was beaten three additional times in pass protection to earn a measly 17.8 pass-blocking grade on first review. Jalen Mayfield allowed a sack, a quarterback hit and a hurry on 35 pass-blocking snaps. All five starting offensive linemen gave up pressure in the game.

Defensive Line

This will be a game to forget for the Falcons' defensive line. The unit combined to create just three pressures, with nobody grading above 67.0 in pass-rush situations. Two pressures did translate to quarterback hits, for what it’s worth.

Anthony Rush and Mike Pennel found some success against the run, combining for four defensive stops and one tackle for loss or no gain.

Linebackers

Deion Jones was tasked with guarding Kittle and gave up multiple explosive plays in the contest. Jones conceded seven receptions on eight targets for 114 yards and four first downs. He also had little to no success against the run, finishing with a 45.2 defensive grade on first review.

Secondary

For the most part, the Falcons' secondary held up well against the 49ers. Jaylinn Hawkins was the only one who truly struggled, allowing a reception on all three of his targets for 61 yards. He missed two tackles in coverage and allowed a 118.8 passer rating when targeted.

Outside of him, nobody in Atlanta's secondary gave up more than 15 yards. A.J. Terrell continued to be a bright spot on the defense, allowing one reception on three targets while also forcing an incompletion.

Player Coverage snaps Targets Yards allowed FINC Passer rating allowed
A.J. Terrell 24 3 9 1 42.4
Fabian Moreau 24 1 15 0 118.8
Duron Harmon 23 0 0 0 0.0
Jaylinn Hawkins 22 3 61 0 118.8
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