5 things to know before Falcons at 49ers kickoff

SAN FRANCISCO – This is a “must win” game for the Falcons.

The #Falcons have a 12% chance to make the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight.com. With a win, the Falcons chances improve to 42%. A loss to the #49ers and they dropped down to a 2% probability of making the playoffs.

We’ll find out if the Falcons are playoff imposters or the real thing. The Falcons have not beaten a team with a winning record, have dropped four games by at least 23 points and have the NFL’s fifth-worst point differential (-108).

Here are five things to know before the Falcons (6-7) face the 49ers (7-6) at 4:05 p.m. Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

1. Roster moves: Falcons safety Erik Harris, who suffered a season-ending injury Sunday against the Panthers, was placed on injured reserve Saturday.

Harris had surgery to repair the torn pectoral muscle Thursday.

The Falcons promoted rookie linebacker Dorian Etheridge from the practice squad and safety Shawn Williams as a COVID-19 promotion for linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee, who went on the reserve COVID-19 list Tuesday.

After three players – Ellerbee and practice-squad players Quinton Bell and cornerback Cornell Armstrong -- the Falcons were in the NFL’s enhanced protocols Wednesday before the league enhanced protocols for all teams Thursday.

2. Falcons’ injury report: Falcons outside linebacker Dante Fowler, who suffered a calf injury against the Panthers on Sunday, returned to practice Friday.

He did not practice Wednesday and Thursday and was limited Friday. He was listed as questionable for the game.

Fowler leads the Falcons with 4.5 sacks this season.

Fowler, who signed an incentive-laden contract, can earn an extra $1 million with another half-sack.

After an injury-plagued 2020, Fowler restructured his contract with the Falcons with a heavy dose of incentives. He earns an extra $1 million if he gets to five sacks, $2 million for seven sacks, $3 million if he gets nine sacks and $4 million if he gets to 11.

3. 49ers’ injury report: The Falcons’ run defense with gives up 117 yards (23rd of 32nd in the league) will catch a break with 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell (concussion/knee) out.

Jeff Wilson and JaMycal Hasty will replace Mitchell, the 49ers leading rusher with 759 yards on the season.

Also, wide receiver Deebo Samuel has been used to help the rushing attack.

Linebacker Dre Greenlaw (groin) and defensive lineman (calf) also were declared out.

Linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair (elbow strain) is doubtful while safety Jaguiski Tartt (glute), defensive line D.J. Jones (knee) and cornerback Ambry Thomas (concussions) are questionable.

4. Series history: The 49ers lead the series 46-31-1. The Falcons won the last meeting, 29-22 on Dec. 15, 2019 in Santa Clara, Calif.

5. Betting line: The Falcons opened Sunday night as 8.5-point underdogs on betonline.ag. The over/under was set at 46 points. The line has moved with the Falcons as 9-point underdogs and the over-and-under at 46.5 points.

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Atlanta Falcons schedule and scores

Eagles 32, Falcons 6

Buccaneers 48, Falcons 25

Falcons 17, Giants 14

Washington 34, Falcons 30

Falcons 27, Jets 20

Bye Week

Falcons 30, Dolphins 28

Panthers 19, Falcons 13

Falcons 27, Saints 25

Cowboys 43, Falcons 3

Patriots 25, Falcons 0

Falcons 21, Jaguars 14

Next four games

Tampa Bay at Falcons, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 5

Falcons at Carolina, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 12

Falcons at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 19

Detroit Lions at Falcons, 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 26