A quick look at the San Francisco 49ers, the Falcons’ next opponent

The streaking San Francisco 49ers have battled back from a bumpy start to the season and look like a blossoming NFC contender.

After a 2-4 start, the 49ers cobbled some things together and have won five of their past seven games, including a 26-23 overtime thriller over Cincinnati on Sunday.

The 49ers (7-6), who are set to host the Falcons (6-7) at 4:05 p.m. Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., currently hold the sixth seed for the playoffs, with four games to play. The Falcons, who have not beaten a team with a winning record, are in the 10th spot, trying to climb up and claim one of the seven spots.

“I don’t know,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said when asked about his team’s playoff chances by San Francisco media members Monday. “I think they are pretty good. You guys probably know more about it than I do. I just know that we have to keep winning each game. That’s how I look at it. ... We’ve got to keep winning each week. If we keep doing that, you don’t have to ever look at anybody else.”

This year, the 49ers drafted quarterback Trey Lance with the third overall pick, one spot ahead of the Falcons. He’s played in five games and made one start, but Jimmy Garoppolo is entrenched as the starter for now.

Garoppolo completed 27 of 41 passes for 296 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the victory over the Bengals. He finished with a passer rating of 103.3. On the season, he’s thrown 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

“We are a hard team to beat when we don’t turn the ball over at all,” Shanahan said. “We found a way to not turn it over (against Cincinnati). Usually, I try to sell to our team (that) if we don’t turn it over, we are pretty much guaranteed to win, almost (certain) if you look at that the stats with that.”

Garoppolo leaned on tight end George Kittle against the Bengals. He finished with 13 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown. Garoppolo tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk in overtime for the win.

Also, wide receiver Deebo Samuel had eight rushes for 37 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown. He also had a catch for 22 yards.

“The way (Garoppolo) came out on the last two drives, he was aggressive and made some big-time throws, and that was one of the main reasons we were able to win,” Shanahan said.

The 49ers like to set up things with the outside-zone running scheme that Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner used to power the Falcons to Super Bowl LI. They’ve had to use a slew of running backs this season and used Jeff Wilson as their primary ball carrier against the Bengals.

Rookie Elijah Moore (knee/concussion) was out, but could return against the Falcons. He leads the 49ers with 759 yards rushing on 165 carries and five touchdowns. Samuel leads the team with six rushing touchdowns.

Kittle was hobbling late in the game against the Bengals.

“You could tell on that last drive of the fourth quarter,” Shanahan said.

He’s the emotional leader of the 49ers.

“He gives us a ton,” Shanahan said. “First of all in the run game, how explosive and violent he is and how good of a blocker (he is); in the pass game, he’s as explosive of a tight end as there is.”

Kittle has 57 catches for 757 yards and six touchdowns. Samuel has 57 catches for 1,028 yards and five touchdowns.

The 49ers defense is led by defensive end Nick Bosa, who has 14 sacks on the season.

The Falcons’ offensive line has flashed some improved play in the run game over the past three games. They’ll face a stiff test from Bosa and his line mates.

“They continue to work to get better,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “They did a nice job with the game plan. (Carolina has) a good defense, and they kept Matt (Ryan) pretty clean.”

The Falcons ditched their rotating center play at halftime of the loss to the Bucs on Dec. 5. The did not rotate center Matt Hennessy and Drew Dalman against the Panthers on Sunday.

But Smith didn’t rule out re-instituting the platoon against the 49ers.

“It’s like with a lot of a lot of our decisions, we’re going to make the best decisions to help us win to help the team, and that’s no knock on Drew,” Smith said. “Just what we felt based off the last couple of weeks. It could change this week depending on matchups. Just how everything goes this week in practice.”

The 49ers are relatively healthy for this late in the season.

Cornerback Ambry Thomas is in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Running back Elijah Mitchell did not play against Cincinnati because of a concussion and a knee injury. Linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair is day-to-day with an elbow sprain. Linebacker Fred Warner (ankle), wide receiver Deebo Samuel (groin) also are bothered by injuries. Cornerback Dontae Johnson missed the game Sunday because of the death of his mother, but he is expected to return against the Falcons.

Also, pass rusher Dee Ford (back) has to be activated by Wednesday or he’s out for the season. He has not played in six games.

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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