If the 49ers were looking to erase their rough first quarter performance, they didn’t do a good job of that to start things off in the second quarter. Mere seconds into the quarter Julio Jones caught his second touchdown of the game, a ridiculous toe-tapper in the back of the end zone. At this point, the game was 17-0 and it really looked like the 49ers weren’t going to be able to get anything going fast enough to keep up with Atlanta.
But much like last week, the Falcons hit a wall, and they had to stop for a minute to catch their breath. In that moment, the 49ers struck fast and hard, with LaMichael James scoring an amazing 15 yard touchdown that looked like something out of Chip Kelly’s playbook at Oregon. It only took Jim Harbaugh’s squad over twenty minutes to get on the board, but once they did it was almost like they had gotten over the first hump.
The 49ers stifled the Falcons after that touchdown, forcing the first three-and-out on defense all day long.
One interesting stat in the first half is Colin Kaepernick’s rushing total — which was zero until the 49ers breached the 4 minute mark of the second quarter. Kapernick’s first rush of the game was good for 23 yards and helped set the 49ers up deep inside Falcons territory. A 15-yard personal foul penalty on Falcons linebacker Stephen Nicholas a play later moved the Niners even closer and two plays later they had cut Atlanta’s lead to 17-14.
At halftime, Falcons fans are feeling conflicted. They dominated the first quarter but began to show signs of weakness in the second, and have allowed the Niners to come within striking distance. Last week they jumped out to a huge lead and squandered it late in the game, and that appears to be happening once again.
However, Julio Jones already has 120 yards on the day, and the Falcons would be foolish to not give him a few more deep balls to get a bigger lead. At that point, they need to control the clock, but that’s a strategy that has as much risk involved as it does reward. Atlanta has only posted one three-and-out series so far on the day, and that needs to continue. If the 49ers begin to battle back in time of possession, we could see something similar to what happened last week happen again.
Tony Gonzalez picked up a touchdown in the closing seconds of the half to extend the lead to 24-14, but the Niners know how to get back in this game and they know the Falcons defense is getting tired.
Colin Kaepernick is proving that nothing rattles him. Last week he threw a pick-six right out of the gate against the Packers but managed to quickly regain his confidence. This week he saw his team fall into a 17-0 hole but has battled them back at the half.
Just when we thought we knew how this game was going to go, we were reminded of just how good Colin Kaepernick is, and just how stingy this Falcons defense can be.