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Falcons 16, 49ers 17: Atlanta falls to 6-3 with ugly loss to San Francisco

An unbelievably bad loss.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

On paper, the Falcons looked poised to obliterate the 49ers in Santa Clara.

Blaine Gabbert starting in place of Colin Kaepernick. A heap of both offensive and defensive players injured.

Instead, the Falcons dropped to 6-3 with a 17-16 loss heading into the bye week.

It wasn't pretty, but let's try to get through it:

First Quarter

The Gabbert Show kicked off with a false start penalty, then a three and out. Atlanta put the first points on the board — a 44-yard Matt Bryant field goal — after driving 46 yards in nine plays.

San Francisco's second offensive possession also faltered after the unit picked up just five yards.

Atlanta's offense was put in great position after Eric Weems returned the punt 41 yards to the 50-yard line. But the Falcons ended up at their own 41 before punting the ball away.

Now it was time for Gabbert to start moving the 49ers offense. He connected with Quinton Patton for a 41-yard catch-and-run on third down to set up the team at the Atlanta 39.

San Francisco made it inside Atlanta's 10-yard line, converting a fourth-and-one on the last play of the quarter.

Second Quarter

Three plays into the second, Garrett Celek caught a one-yard touchdown pass on third down to give the 49ers a 7-3 lead.

The Falcons couldn't answer back just yet.

Atlanta's defense forced another three and out, and Weems' 14-yard punt return set up the offense at San Francisco 45.

Even with the great field position, Atlanta couldn't get into the end zone. Matt Ryan and Jacob Tamme connected on a deep pass for 26 yards, but the Falcons picked up just one yard on the next three plays.

Bryant nailed the 36-yard field goal, but the Falcons still trailed, 7-6.

After putting together a field goal drive of their own, the 49ers then came back with a touchdown drive. Celek caught his second touchdown pass of the day.

Depressing note: The last time Gabbert threw two touchdowns in a game was November 4, 2012.

The Falcons offense came alive with 1:09 left in the half.

A rare deep pass to Julio Jones went for 54 yards. Two plays later, Devonta Freeman scored on a 16-yard reception to cap off a three-play, 78-yard drive.

Third Quarter

The second half started with another great return by Weems, but yet again the Falcons squandered the great field position at the 50.

Neither team put up points in the third, but there was a turnover: Phillip Adams intercepted a pass intended for Jerome Simpson after it was deflected.

Both offenses, as was the case for most of the game, looked bad.

Heading into the final quarter, the 49ers led the Falcons 17-13.

Fourth Quarter

Vic Beasley notched the first interception of his young career, setting up an Atlanta drive that started from their own 33.

The Falcons drove the ball down the field with ease, but ran into trouble after making it deep into San Francisco territory. Justin Hardy's three-yard reception on third down put the Falcons at the one-yard line.

In a decision that will likely draw scrutiny, Atlanta kicked the 19-yard field goal instead of going for it on fourth down to make it a 17-16 game with 3:00 remaining.

The Falcons defense couldn't get the ball back, and the 49ers chewed up the clock to get the win.

There's no way around it: this was a bad, bad loss.