The Falcons are 49ers are old foes. Atlanta spent decades in the same division as San Francisco, often enduring losses as the easternmost representative of the old NFC West, and saw them in their first NFL season back in 1966. These two teams have a very rich history, and there are dozens of games from the 60s, 70s, and 80s that those fans with long memories would like to avenge in the here and now.
It’s only right, then, that the red helmets are back in action for the first time in about a decade against the 49ers. Those were the helmets Atlanta wore from 1966 to 1989, or the bulk of the time they spent in the NFC West battling the 49ers, and they’ll don them again to face yet another quality San Francisco team looking to win a division they’ve dominated throughout its history. The stakes are different and the teams are very, very different than they were during the heyday of the red helmets—hell, the NFL is very different, too—but beating the 49ers in historic duds will feel just as good as it ever did.
This is the first of a pair of 2022 appearances for the red helmets, which were effectively banned in 2013 after the NFL instituted a one shell rule that prevented alternate helmets from being used. The second one will come against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 13, a lesser opponent and one without the deep historical ties, so that’ll be more of just an opportunity for the Falcons to look stylish while beating Kenny Pickett. This week, though, we’ll likely be looking at a better game and a chance to put a longtime bitter enemy of the Falcons franchise in their place while wearing an underrated piece of franchise history.