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December 23, 2013
Halftime: Falcons taking fun out of Candlestick farewell

If the 49ers lose their final two games they will not make the playoffs.

This gentle reminder comes after a lackluster first half in which Colin Kaepernick looked shaky, the 49ers picked up only one third-down conversion and which the visiting Falcons lead 10-3. The 49ers' defense allowed only one significant play, but the breakdown was big enough to put Atlanta in position for an easy score.

Early on Atlanta seemed content to throw short passes up the field until Matt Ryan scrambled from pressure in the second quarter and hit receiver Drew Davis, who ran all the way to the 49ers' 5-yard line. From there a questionable personal-foul penalty on safety Donte Whitner - who has attracted two others this season - gave the Falcons first-and-goal from the 2-yard line, and tailback Steven Jackson pinballed into the end zone for a touchdown that gave Atlanta a 7-3 lead.

The Falcons also have been able to pick up significant yards on first down. At the end of the half, they drove 30 yards in nine plays to set up a 35-yard Matt Bryant field goal.

On offense, meanwhile, Anquan Boldin has three catches for 43 yards, and he's surpassed 1,000 receiving for the season. Otherwise, the 49ers haven't done much. Kaepernick is 6-11 for 69 yards while Frank Gore, perhaps dealing with tender ankles, has rushed seven times for 36 yards.

Vernon Davis missed several plays in the second quarter - it has not been announced why - and his backup, Vance McDonald, could not make plays on two passes in his direction, including a deep on the right side of the field.

Meanwhile, Anthony Davis is listed as the starter at fullback now that Bruce Miller is out for the season. But newcomer Will Tukuafu got in the game ahead of Dixon and has been Gore's lead blocker on five plays so far.

If the 49ers lose their next two games, both the Cardinals - who host them on Sunday - and either the Saints or Panthers will take the wild-card spots and make the playoffs. The 49ers would stay home.

- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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