Here are 5 things to mull over before today’s 4:05 p.m. kickoff between the San Francisco 49ers (1-12) and the Atlanta Falcons (8-5) at the Georgia Dome.
BRING THE KIDS SOME TOYS: The Falcons are teaming up with the United States Marine Corps to host the 2016 Toys for Tots Drive at this game Fans are encouraged to bring new unwrapped toys and/or make a monetary donation. Marines will be stationed at all Georgia Dome gates from 2 p.m. until 4:05 p.m. to collect donations.
1. TALE OF THE TAPE: 2016 Regular Season Statistics Rankings:
32.9 (1) Points/Game 19.3 (26)
402.3 (3) Total Offense 314.0 (29)
106.6 (16) Net Rushing Yards/Game 136.9 (4)
295.7 (3) Net Passing Yards/Game 177.1 (32)
29:35 (21) Possession Average 26:21 (32)
26.5 (28) Opponent Points/Game 30.2 (32)
376.3 (28) Opponent Total Offense 415.3 (32)
101.1 (14) Opp. Rushing Yards/Game 170.8 (32)
275.2 (32) Opp. Passing Yards/Game 244.5 (14)
+8 (4t) Turnover Differential -3 (22)
INJURY REPORT: Falcons All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones (sprain toe) will not play. He was declared OUT by coach Dan Quinn said on Friday. Also, safety Kemal Ishmael (shoulder surgery) was placed on injured reserve and rookie wide receiver J.D. McKissic was called up from the practice squad. Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (groin) is expected to play against the 49ers. He did not play last week against the Rams. In addition to Jones, defensive end Adrian Clayborn (knee), cornerback Jalen Collins, safety Robenson Therezie (ankle) and wide receiver Nick Williams (concussion) will not play.
2. SERIES RECORD: This will be the 77th regular-season meeting. The 49ers lead 46-28-1. The 49ers won the last meeting 17-16 last season in Santa Clara, Ca. The two teams met in the NFC championship game after the 2012 regular season. The 49ers stormed back from a 17-0 deficit to pull out the 28-24 win and advance to the Super Bowl on Jan. 20, 2013. (Falcons fans are still waiting for the ref to throw the pass interference flag on NaVorro Bowman who mauled Roddy White on the key fourth-down play!)
3. THREE KEY MATCHUPS: Here’s a look at three key matchups:
49ers RB Carlos Hyde vs. Falcons LB Deion Jones: Hyde is closing in on a 1,000-yard season, with 897 yards and six rushing touchdowns. He rushed for 193 yards on 17 carries last week against the Jets, but was stuffed on a fourth-and-2 in overtime. Jones, who has shown big-play ability in pass coverage, must play as aggressively against the run. He is second on the team with 79 tackles.
49ers RT Trent Brown vs. Falcons OLB Vic Beasley: Brown is a massive second-year player from Florida, who’s 6-foot-5, 365 pounds. He has a size advantage and will receive help from the tight end and running backs against the emerging Beasley. The Falcons are elated with Beasley’s play. He’s tied for the NFL lead with 13.5 sacks. He had three sacks and scored his first career touchdown last week against the Rams and was named the NFC’s defensive player of the week. Beasley leads the league with six forced fumbles.
49ers LB Nick Bellore vs. Falcons RB Devonta Freeman: Bellore has 71 tackles in nine starts this season as the 49ers miss the inside presence of NaVorro Bowman, who’s out after tearing his Achilles tendon against Dallas. Bellore, who played at Central Michigan, is a feisty competitor who started his career with the Jets. Freeman rushed for 6 yards on six carries against the Rams and has only one 100-yard rushing game this season. He’ll look to get loose against the 32nd-ranked rush defense in the league.
4. NFL OFFICIALS: R: Gene Steratore (114); FJ: Mike Weatherford (116); U: Bill Schuster (89); SJ: Bob Waggoner (25); HL: Ed Walker (123); BJ: Dino Paganelli (105); LJ: Gary Arthur (108); RO: Paul Weidner. Steratore has been an official since 2003. He was the referee in the controversial Green Bay and Dallas playoff game when Dez Bryant apparent to have a touchdown catch on Jan. 11, 2015. Bryant was deemed not to have control the ball to the ground under what’s become known as the “Calvin Johnson rule.”
5. KAEPERNICK WATCH: San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick had the biggest win of his career at the Georgia Dome. Kaepernick, now known more for his stand against social and racial injustices, never developed into a proficient passer and appears to be latest running quarterback headed to the NFL’s honorary Vince Young scrap heap. Kaepernick has completed 131 of 239 passes (54.4 percent) for 1,577 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions while going 0-8 as a starter.
The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter and Maria Marino discuss Julio Jones’ status for week 15 and what the Falcons need to tighten up as they battle for a postseason berth.
GAME 13: Falcons 42, Rams 14
GAME 12: Chiefs 29, Falcons 28
GAME 11: Falcons 38, Cardinals 19
GAME 10: Eagles 24, Falcons 15
GAME SEVEN: Chargers 33, Falcons 30 in OT
GAME SIX: Seahawks 26, Falcons 24
GAME FIVE: Falcons 23, Broncos 16
GAME FOUR: Falcons 48, Panthers 33
GAME THREE: Falcons 45, Saints 32
GAME TWO: Falcons 35, Raiders 28
GAME ONE: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 24