Coming into the game it didn’t look like we were in store for a defensive battle, and so far that’s half true. The 49ers needed to limit their mistakes in order to win but they made a huge one right off the bat by first deferring the coin toss and then allowing Julio Jones to get wider than wide open down the field for the first home run touchdown of the game.
Atlanta boasted all week how they were ready to rattle Colin Kaepernick, and on the 49ers first drive they did an excellent job of reading the young man’s offense.
The game was stopped momentarily at the 5:38 mark when Julio Jones rolled into a security guard on the sidelines. The security guard had to be attended to by the medical staff and helped off the field, but the stoppage didn’t slow the Falcons at all on their second scoring drive of the game. They didn’t get into the end zone on their second drive but they did add a Matt Bryant 49-yard field goal to their score.
Julio Jones became first player with 100 yards receiving in 1st quarter of an NFL playoff game since the fellow NFC South receiver Steve Smith in 2005.
One thing the Falcons did brilliantly in the first quarter was control the ball and control the clock. The Falcons had the ball for well over 10 minutes in the opening quarter, while Colin Kaepernick had it just just over three minutes. The Packers allowed Kaepernick to run wild last week and it proved to be a fatal decision. This week, the Falcons are limiting the time the ball is in the hands of Kaepernick, which might be the only way to stop him.
The 49ers avoided a massive mistake on their second kick return of the day, when LaMichael James fumbled the ball, but was ruled to have lost control due to the ground. The ensuing drive didn’t go much better and ended in yet another three-and-out that saw the Falcons rush and sack Kaepernick on 3rd and 4.
It was a sloppy first quarter for the Niners and one they’ll need to distance themselves from if they want a chance to win this game. If the 49ers want to win this game, they need to possess the ball much longer than they have so far, and Kaepernick needs to start making plays to extend drives. As for Atlanta, they’re quickly setting themselves up in a situation to control the clock and just bleed the 49ers out.