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Four Critical Matchups In The Falcons-49ers Game

I don't know if this is a trap game, because I feel like the Falcons don't often come out and drop a complacent bomb on gameday. It's still one worth being wary about, because there's a lot more talent on the San Francisco 49ers than their record indicates.

Rather than spend a lot of time on introduction, let's jump right into the meat of this post. Join me!

Frank Gore vs. Falcons Defense

Frank Gore is one of the best backs in the game today. He can catch, he can run and he's durable enough to wear down a defense. Did I mention that he can occasionally break a long run, which has been an Achilles heel for this defense in 2010?

The Falcons will have to be stout up front to slow Gore. He's not doing the Niners much good if he's only averaging three yards a carry, so the Falcons should make him a priority. It's not going to be as easy as stopping Tim Hightower or Pierre Thomas, either.

Having one of our linebackers—say Mike Peterson—shadowing Gore around would not be a bad idea. Having someone other than Mike Peterson covering him downfield might be a brilliant idea on passing downs, too.

Michael Turner and Jason Snelling vs. Niners Defense

The other side of the coin features Turnelling, the bruising power attack of the Falcons. Unfortunately, they're up against a competent run defense.

The Falcons under Mike Smith have traditionally lived and died by the strength of their ground game, and it's certainly going to be the case here. If Turner and Snelling run with impunity, Matt Ryan will have better success throwing. If the offense is firing on all cylinders, we're going to whip the Niners.

If we don't, it's going to be a lot closer and a lot less pleasant.

Roddy White vs. Shawntae Spencer

I'm interested in this one primarily because 49ers fans have really been talking up Spencer. He appears to be a quality cornerback, but I also fear our friends of the red and gold persuasion are seriously underestimating White. Should be a compelling battle, because White getting open often would be very bad news for the Niners.

Mike Smith vs. Mike Singletary

A good ol' fashioned coaching battle? Yeehaw!

On paper this isn't a very fair fight, since Singletary's primary focus is motivating his players and Smith's is the utter annihilation of all teams in his path. Yet we're going to be facing off against a Singletary who may be fighting for his job, a guy who oozes strawberry-smelling intensity out of every pore. I'll be interested to see the glares on the sidelines and the use of red flags in this one.

If these matchups don't seem as compelling as usual, it might be because I think we're totally going to win.