The 49ers backed into the playoffs Sunday, when the Rams got clobbered by Dallas. That they lost to the Falcons was disappointing, but in the end makes little difference in the standings. They still need to win the next two games to win the division and the top seed in the playoffs.
If they lose against the Rams next Sunday, they’ll be in the wild card round whether it’s as division winner, by beating Seattle, or not.
After cruising through the first half of the season, the Niners are only 3-3 over the past six games. All three losses have been on the final play of the game.
You could say this game was between George Kittle and Julio Jones. Each player had 13 catches for 134 yards. Jones had the last word, catching the game winner with one inch of the football sticking into the end zone stripe. Nobody else on either team contributed significantly to the outcome. Other than one Deebo Samuel 29 yard catch, the 49er WRs were MIA this game, as was the running game. Maybe Falcon HC Dan Quinn knew how to stop Kyle Shanahan‘s offense from watching it up close during the years Shanahan was the Falcon OC.
For my taste, Shanahan played it too safe at the end. He chose to give Matt Ryan and Jones nearly two minutes and two timeouts to drive for the game winner rather than his own offense the chance to convert a fourth and one. Convert that down, and the Niners could have run the clock down to a few seconds and then kicked the FG, leaving Atlanta too little time to respond.
The last second losses are either learning experiences for the young Niners or they are exposing their limitations as a big time team. Take your pick. They did beat Pittsburgh and New Orleans at the last second, so maybe there’s nothing to glean here except our displeasure. We’ll see in the next two weeks which hypothetical gains the most traction.