1. DEFENSE UNDERMANNED AGAIN: I suspect a couple of position coaches will be scapegoated for the team's record this season but the personnel issues along both lines remain obvious. The offensive line actually played pretty well, notwithstanding two false start penalties by Lamar Holmes and the regression of second-year center/guard Peter Konz. But the 49ers ran over the Falcons' defensive front, totaling 199 yards rushing and scoring on four straight second-half possessions (three touchdowns and a field goal). After Matt Ryan threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White, the 49ers ran the ball down their throat on their next possession: six straight carries for 76 yards, culminating with a Frank Gore touchdown.
2. RODDY WHITE IS THE MAN: There was a time when I doubted whether White (32 years old) would be back next season, given the meteoric rise of Julio Jones and salary cap issues. But after being slowed most of the season by a high ankle sprain, White again is showing his greatness and toughness. He had 12 catches for 141 yards, including the 39-yard TD. White was inactive for three games earlier this season, then had only six catches over the next three. But he has 35 receptions for 411 yards in the last four games. The Falcons can't let him go. I'm guessing they'll likely extend and restructure his deal.
3. ARE THESE REAL REFS OR REPLACEMENTS? Officiating was dreadful, even if balanced (both teams benefited). In the second quarter, San Francisco's Donte Whitner was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for a hit on the Falcons' Steven Jackson. Replays showed Whitner did not hit Jackson in the head or neck area, nor was Jackson "defenseless." The penalty nullified an incompletion, gave the Falcons' a first down at the two-yard line and set up a touchdown. In the third quarter, the Falcons' Paul Worrilow was called for pass interference while covering the 49ers' Anquan Boldin, nullifying a third-and-19 incompletion. The resulting first down led to a field goal.
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