Game breakdown: 49ers vs. Falcons

Taking a look deep inside Sunday's pivotal battle of NFC contenders between the 49ers and Atlanta Falcons at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, with snapshot game details, series history, game plans, matchups to watch, injury impact, personnel updates and a look inside both camps before the big game

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:05 Pacific
SITE: Candlestick Park in San Francisco
SURFACE:: Grass
RECORDS: 49ers 3-1, 3-0 in NFC West; 3-1 in NFC; Falcons 2-1, 1-0 in NFC South, 1-0 in NFC
TV: FOX (Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa)

SERIES HISTORY: 73rd regular-season meeting. The 49ers lead series 44-27-1, but the Falcons have won the last two meetings. The teams also met in the 1999 playoffs with the Falcons winning 20-18 in Atlanta.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Two of the Falcons' biggest weapons, RB Michael Turner (less than 70 rushing yards in two of three games) and WR Roddy White (7.9 yards per reception, have yet to get untracked. QB Matt Ryan is completing 65.9 percent of his passes, but needs to create more vertical plays in the passing game to open rushing lanes for Turner. The 49ers will again build their gameplan around rookie RB Glen Coffee with Frank Gore (ankle) out. San Francisco will focus its running game between the tackles, where the Falcons are thin defensively.

FAST FACTS: The Falcons' 92.3 rushing yards per game this season is 60.4 fewer than in 2008. ... 49ers QB Shaun Hill is 7-0 as a starter at home.

BY THE NUMBERS: 65.9 -- Quarterback Matt Ryan's completion percentage through three games. 5 -- Number of Atlanta receivers who are averaging over 10 yards per catch. Tony Gonzalez (12.3), Michael Jenkins (12.7), Jason Snelling (10.6), Marty Booker (14.8) and Ovie Mughelli (11.0). 134 -- Tony Gonzalez streak of consecutive games with a reception. His streak ranks second among tight ends in league history behind Ozzie Newsome (150 games). 60.4 -- The number of yards off the Falcons are from their average rushing total from last season (152.7).

QUOTES TO NOTE

"I think we are a ways away. I won't even go there and try and be philosophical about it. We are a ways away and I only say that because sometimes you'll say, 'Well, we are about this much away,' but when you really measure that, it's a ways away. -- 49ers coach Mike Singletary on how close the 49ers are to becoming an elite team in the NFL.

"He had surgery done. It was not reconstructive surgery. It was not a reconstruction, and he's been placed on IR. Injuries are part of this game but we anticipate a full recovery." --Falcons coach Mike Smith on DT Peria Jerry, who had his surgery last week and has returned to Atlanta to rehab.

49ERS GAME PLAN: The 49ers have held to the same philosophy this season for each game under coach Mike Singletary this season. The 49ers want to, first and foremost, take away the opposition's run game. Then, the 49ers have done a good job on third downs of applying pressure to the quarterback. After doing a good job of containing Minnesota's Adrian Peterson and St. Louis' Steven Jackson in back-to-back games, the 49ers will have their hands full Sunday with Michael Turner. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has the luxury of bringing linebacker Patrick Willis on blitzes through the "A" gap if the 49ers have trouble getting to Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan with their four-man pass rush. Offensively, the 49ers want to be a power running team with rookie Glen Coffee getting most of the rushing attempts. But quarterback Shaun Hill has also proved to offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye that he can handle more in the passing game. When it gets to red-zone situations, Hill likes to look for tight end Vernon Davis, who has caught three touchdown passes the past two weeks.

FALCONS GAME PLAN: The Falcons are planning for a brutish physical game. They want to get after 49ers quarterback Shaun Hill and power the ball at the 49ers defense. Looks for tons of hitting in this one as the Falcons try to re-establish the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

49ers LT Joe Staley, who has gotten off to a good start with just one sack allowed in four games, vs. Falcons RDE John Abraham, who has two sacks this season after recording 16.5 a year ago.

49ers TE Vernon Davis, who has emerged into the 49ers' top pass-catching target, vs. Falcons SLB Stephen Nicholas, who will have to do a good job at the line of scrimmage getting a body on Davis to slow him down. Davis also will be matched up against Falcons SS Erik Coleman. Davis has 17 catches for 211 yards and three touchdowns. Coleman is fast enough to stay with Davis, who will use his power and strength to break tackles after the catch. Coleman will need to bring his big-boy pads for this one.

49ers LB Patrick Willis, the 49ers' team leader in tackles, vs. Falcons RB Michael Turner, who has gotten off to a slow start with 226 yards rushing in four games. Willis also will be matched up against Falcons FB Ovie Mughelli. Instead of taking Willis with the 8th pick in 2007, the Falcons went with defensive end Jamaal Anderson. Mughelli has played well in his role as lead blocker for Turner, but this will be his biggest challenge as the Falcons will try to re-establish their running game.

49ers CB Nate Clements, who is physical in bump-and-run coverage but can get beaten down the field, vs. Falcons WR Roddy White, who is off to a slow start after holding out for nine days this offseason. White has been targeted on 26 passes. He has 15 catches for 119 yards (7.9 yards per catch). He averaged 15.7 yards per catch last season and 15.4 over 230 career catches entering this season. The Pro Bowler is trying to get back on track.

49ers FS Dashon Goldson, who will be looking to make big plays on defense, vs. Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez, who leads the Falcons in receiving with 160 yards and two touchdowns.

INJURY IMPACT

49ERS:
RB Frank Gore will miss his second game with a right ankle injury. The club expects him to be available with the 49ers return after the bye week to face the Houston Texans on Oct. 25. Rookie Glen Coffee will start in place of Gore. S Reggie Smith will also be out of action with a severe groin strain. His return is in question, as he is expected to be re-evaluated after the bye week. LB Jeff Ulbrich was ruled out for Sunday's game against the Falcons after sustaining a concussion three days ago against the Rams. LB Marques Harris (hamstring) might not be able to play Sunday. LB Manny Lawson (illness) and return man Allen Rossum (back) should be available for the game after going through limited practice during the week. G David Baas (ankle) and receiver Arnaz Battle (hand) did not miss any practice time and will be available for the game.

FALCONS: DT Peria Jerry (knee) is out for the season. FS Antoine Harris (knee) was injured in the New England game.


PERSONNEL NEWS

FALCONS


--- DE John Abraham has 86 career sacks, including two this season.

--- RB Jerious Norwood returned to practice over the bye week after missing one game due to a concussion.

--- WR Roddy White ranks first on the team with 15 catches for 119 yards. He has one touchdown reception.


--- WR Michael Jenkins has 12 catches for 152 yards, with his long reception going for 26 yards against New England. He had a 64-yard touchdown pass called back due to an offensive pass interference call.

--- TE Tony Gonzalez leads the team in receiving yards with 160, and he has scored two touchdowns.

49ERS

--- QB Shaun Hill ranks 11th in the NFL with a 93.3 passer rating through the first quarter of the season. Hill has thrown for just 700 yards, but he is completing 62.3 percent of his attempts with five touchdowns and one interception.

--- RB Frank Gore said he hopes to resume running next week, during the 49ers' bye week, and he plans to be available for the 49ers' Oct. 25 game against the Texans. Gore will miss his second consecutive game Sunday.

--- LB Patrick Willis is off to a great start through four games. According to the team's stats, based on the coaches' review of the game film, Willis has 38 tackles, including six behind the line of scrimmage, a team-leading 2.5 sacks, two interceptions and six passes defensed.

--- LB Scott McKillop, a rookie, leads the 49ers with 14 tackles on special teams. He also has recovered a muffed punt in the end zone for a touchdown.

--- WR Josh Morgan leads the 49ers with a 13.8-yard average reception this season. However, Morgan has just nine catches in four games. The 49ers are not complaining about his play because he has done a good job as a blocker, and he has even been used as an H-back.


INSIDE THE CAMPS

FALCONS


The Falcons have lost their top draft pick, defensive tackle Peria Jerry, for the season.

But coming off the bye week, they are going to get the second-round draft pick, strong safety William Moore, back from injury.

Moore will see his first action of the regular season Sunday against the 49ers.

Moore, who's coming off knee surgery and a hamstring injury, has been inactive for the first three games. He's put two good weeks of practice together and is ready for action, according to Falcons coach Mike Smith.

Moore, expected to compete for a starting position, was injured during the first week of training camp.

When he tried to come back after arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in the third preseason game against San Diego, he pulled the left hamstring.

"As a football player, it can be frustrating, but it's a part of the game," Moore said. "You get hurt sometimes, but you have to fight back twice as hard."

He will play on special teams against the 49ers.

"I know I'm going to be shaking a little bit," Moore said. "It's a different atmosphere, but I'm excited about it."

There is not an immediate opening in the secondary for Moore, as strong safety Erik Coleman and free safety Thomas DeCoud are playing well.

"I'm still learning my way through the defense," Moore said.

Moore was considered a top-15 pick if he'd come out for the 2008 draft, but he returned to Missouri and played on a high ankle sprain for most of his senior season.

In the 2009 draft, he slipped into the second round and was the 55th overall pick.

"I really take pride in how hard I go, but that can come back to haunt you sometimes if you don't take care of your body," Moore said. "That's what I'm focusing on now. Taking care of my body and doing the little things."

49ERS

The 49ers will not have receiver Michael Crabtree in uniform for a game until Oct. 25 at the earliest, but they still expect him to make a contribution in their game Sunday against the Falcons.

Even though he is not running the 49ers' plays in practice, he is helping. In his first two days of work after signing a six-year contract with the team, Crabtree has run the Falcons' plays with the scout team. He lined up as Atlanta receiver Michael Jenkins.

"We can't give snaps to him in the offense if he's not going to play the game," offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye said. "We've got to get the people ready who are going to play in the game and continue the continuity that we have in the passing game with the quarterbacks and the receivers that are playing."

The NFL granted the 49ers a two-week roster exemption to allow Crabtree to practice with the team. The 49ers are not required to clear a spot on their 53-man roster for Crabtree until Oct. 19, the Monday after the team's bye week.

Raye said he expects to have an abbreviated package of plays available for Crabtree for the team's Oct. 25 game against the Texans. He likely would play only in their third-down package as a third wideout.

"In a three-wide package, he would be the slot," Raye said. "That will take some adjustments to get him up to speed to go on the field right now as a split end."

Crabtree did not take part in the 49ers' offseason practices as the team was being cautious after he underwent offseason foot surgery. He missed all of training camp, four exhibition games and will miss his fifth regular-season game Sunday.

"From what I've seen early on, I think he'll adjust to the scheme, adjust pretty easily to any scheme," Raye said. "He basically played on one side in college, didn't flip, stayed on the one side and the routes in their system, he ran a hitch, and if he was pressed, he ran a go. So, it's a little bit more learning that he has to do than time will allow us to teach him, but we've got to make do as we can."



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