Ex-Charlotte 49er Timothy Horne returns home to face Panthers as a Falcon

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Falcons nose tackle Timothy Horne is from Wadesboro, N.C., and started his college career terrorizing offensive linemen for the Charlotte 49ers.

With his hometown 52.1 miles away, Horne has a homecoming of sorts when the Falcons (4-5) play the Panthers (2-7) at 8:15 p.m. Thursday at Bank of America Stadium.

“Yeah, it should be a good bit (of family at the game),” Horne said. “It’s going to be nice that they get an opportunity to come out and watch me play.”

Falcons defensive linemate Grady Jarrett is excited for Horne, who’s been active for all nine games and has played 26% of the defensive snaps.

“I’m certainly excited for him to be able to go back home and play in front of (his) hometown crowd,” Jarrett said. “Just represent. Represent his name and his family’s name. I’m just excited to see a young guy like that have the opportunity to play ball.”

After graduating from Charlotte with a degree in sociology, Horne played a year at Kansas State as a graduate transfer. He made the Falcons as an undrafted rookie.

“He’s excited to go home and play,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “(We’ve) been very pleased with Timmy.”

Coming out of high school, Horne wasn’t heavily recruited, even though he played in the 2015 North Carolina-South Carolina Shrine Bowl.

“I went there right out of high school because it was closer to home, and I could be closer to my family,” Horne said. “So, coach (Brad) Lambert, who was the head coach at the time, really welcomed me in. I could be close to my family. Coach (Aaron) Curry helped me out with everything.”

Curry, a former linebacker at Wake Forest and in the NFL, was the 49ers’ defensive line coach from 2015-18. Currently an assistant with Seattle, Curry was the fourth player selected in the 2009 draft and played five years in the NFL.

Horne redshirted in 2016 and played from 2017-20 for the 49ers.

“It was great,” Horne said. “It was a learning experience coming in, fresh out of high school. I had to get adjusted. There was different diversity stuff going on and just learning the game even more and more. Meeting friends, lifelong friends to this day.”

The 49ers produced four NFL draft picks from 2017-20 in defensive end Larry Ogunjobi (Browns, third round 2017), guard Nate Davis (Titans, third round 2019), linebacker Alex Highsmith (Steelers, third round 2020) and offensive lineman Cameron Clark (Jets, fourth round 2020).

Former Falcons assistant coach Chris Scelfo was the 49ers’ offensive line coach in 2018.

Horne transferred after the 2020 season with his degree in hand.

“Just jumped into (the NCAA transfer) portal,” Horne said. “It was a personal thing. I wanted to go and try to branch out, spread my wings, go somewhere else.”

At 6-foot-5 and 318 pounds, Horne received plenty of interest.

“I chose Kansas State because of coach (Chris) Klieman and the tradition there at K-State,” Horne said. “You always want to be a part of something special like that.”

Over five seasons, Horne played in 55 career games, including 30 starts. He wasn’t drafted this year, but the Falcons signed him. Horne had a strong exhibition season and made the team.

“It’s been a great, great transition overall,” Horne said. “Each day, come in and put your best foot forward. No looking back and stuff. Just continue to try and learn. Continue to try to improve on what you did the day before.”

Horne has nine tackles and a pass defensed.

“Oh, man, Tim has been doing a great job, man,” Jarrett said. “He’s been active for us every game. He’s been a great guy to step in there and clog up the middle and actually get some push in there.”

The Falcons were looking for a nose tackle to anchor the middle of their 3-4 defense. Vincent Taylor suffered a ruptured Achilles in August. Anthony Rush started the season as the No. 1 nose tackle but was released Sept. 21 because of weight problems.

“He had an amazing (exhibition) season, so it was (a) no-brainer that he was going to make the team,” Jarrett said. “He’s been a heck of a contributor. Getting batted balls, playing up and down the line of scrimmage. When he comes in, it’s not much of a drop-off.”

Horne’s main job is to gobble up blockers, which should free Jarrett and Ta’Quon Graham to get one-on-one opportunities.

“For young guys, the closer you play to the ball, the more difficult it can be,” Smith said. “You’re dealing with a lot of combination blocks inside. Obviously, in some obvious pass situations, it comes down to pass rush.”

Horne has been holding his own in the NFL.

“The reality is a lot of the majority the snaps when you’re playing close to the ball, there are a lot of things that go on inside,” Smith said. “Timmy has done a nice job. He’s gotten better every week.”

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Atlanta Falcons 2022 schedule

Sept. 11: Saints 27, Falcons 26

Sept. 18: Rams 31, Falcons 27

Sept. 25 Falcons 27, Seahawks 23

Oct. 2 Falcons 23, Browns 20

Oct. 9 Buccaneers 21, Falcons 15

Oct. 16 Falcons 28, 49ers 14

Oct. 23 Bengals 35, Falcons 17

Oct. 30 Falcons 37, Panthers 34 OT

Nov. 6 Chargers 20, Falcons 17

Nov. 10 at Carolina, 8:15 p.m.

Nov. 20 vs. Chicago, 1 p.m.

Nov. 27 at Washington, 1 p.m.

Dec. 4 vs. Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.

BYE WEEK

Dec. 18 at New Orleans, TBD

Dec. 24 at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

Jan. 1 vs. Arizona, 1 p.m.

Jan. 8 vs. Tampa Bay, TBD