TWD Sunday Sports Thread #1 For 1/20/13: Gold RushGore Sends 49ers Back to the Super Bowl
Final: San Francisco 28, Atlanta 24
(Photo from NFL.com)
A tough running game and a stout defensive unit have been the strong physical identity that has revitalized the San Francisco 49ers franchise. And today in that second half, those two things proved the reason they are returning to the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years.
The trust in their core strengths as a team, their defense and their running game, is what has given this organization a return to the ultimate stage. The offensive line was stellar after a rough start and showed why they are the best in the NFL, and Frank Gore contributed to how elite between the tackles he still is.
80 yards for Gore seem less for how huge he was in this game, with 16 effective carries all day today. LaMichael James was also keep with the touchdown to get the entire team going, but Gore showed how invaluable he is to this team.
Despite Matt Ryan's costly two turnovers in the 3rd quarter helping, there was no assistance from the Falcons quarterback to help the 49ers defense on that final drive. It was just marvelous to see the stand they had in those final four plays of the penultimate Falcons drive.
It's a back breaking loss for Atlanta, to be up 17-0 nothing and not score a single point in the 2nd half. Ryan for the 2nd straight week made unexpected tournaments after superb starts and great protection. And although Kaepernick did not hurt them on the ground as Russell Wilson did last week, the 2nd year man was superb throwing the ball today and didn't come close to making awful decisions.
Terrific game all around to close out the season in the NFC this year.
The Key Adjustments
No sacks on Matt Ryan. Not one for Alden Smith, Justin Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Ricky Jean-Francois, or anyone on Vic Fangio's defense, as it's been another week of superb O-line blocking so far by Clabo, Konz, McClure, Blalock, and Baker.
That protection has allowed Ryan to have a dream first half, with great decision making and pinpoint deliveries. Those completions have made Julio Jones want to battle Calvin Johnson next season as the NFL's premiere pass catcher.
For Vic Fangio, he will somehow needed to bring in blitz packages for Willis and Bowmann to help both the Smiths somehow get pressure on Ryan. That is just the only "black and white" solution to whether they will be going to the SuperDome in two weeks or going home.
For the Falcons on their end, Stephen Nicholas really has to play better, as he was by far the Falcons worst performer on defense. Greg Roman made a lot of headway as the half went on with the two tight end formation in the pistol, something Mike Nolan will have to fix as San Francisco receives the ball in the first half.