When the schedule was released for the Falcons, it was evident that they were going to come out of the first seven games of the season either significantly down in the NFC South standings or having proven they belong in a conversation among NFC contenders. The difficulty out of the gate is extreme enough that we’ll have a good measure of the team by the time that stretch is over.
Having battled the Saints, Rams, Seahawks, Buccaneers, and Browns to this point, Atlanta returns home to face one of the NFC’s best. Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers will be coming to town to provide yet another challenge to Atlanta, which lost 31-13 in a flat effort on the road against the 49ers just a year ago.
Will the Falcons get some revenge and show they can knock off a legitimate contender in Week 6, or will they continue a slide against one of the NFL’s better squads (at least on paper?) Our staff roundtable weighs in below.
49ers 31 - Falcons 20
San Francisco beat the Falcons 31-13 a year ago, so the two questions that matter here are as follows:
- How much better are the Falcons?
- Did the 49ers get any worse?
The answer to the first question is up in the air, but I think Atlanta is better than they were a year ago, and thus will give the 49ers a better fight. Aside from center—remember, Alex Mack just retired—and some question marks in the secondary, I don’t believe the 49ers are significantly worse. If Trey Lance lives up to his promise, this team might actually be better than the version we saw a year ago. The gap between these two rosters is still significant enough that a win is difficult to predict here in June, though I’m hoping my tune will have changed by late August.
I’m going to bet we’ll see a much more competitive game with Atlanta better able to attack some of the weaknesses in this 49ers secondary and with a pass rush more capable of impacting Lance, but this is another tough matchup in an early season slate absolutely chock full of them. At this point in my personal predictions, the Falcons would be 2-4. - Dave Choate
Falcons 24 - 49ers 17
I have the Falcons with only a small handful of wins in 2022. Calling a win against the 49ers could be called crazy. This may be bold, crazy, and deeply rooted in my rich disregard for Kyle Shanahan. Those are all good and valid points. At this point in the season, I expect the Falcons to be finding its identity, with the 49ers doing the opposite. It seems like the 49ers will play Trey Lance but unfounded rumors paint a picture that Lance is still extremely raw. If true, you would expect his limitations to start showing with earlier game plans no longer being effective. Tack that together with a cross-country trip to Atlanta, and overlooking what will certainly be a losing team, this may be a perfect storm of an unlikely upset. - Matt Chambers
49ers 24 - Falcons 21
The Falcons are probably veering toward another mediocre season, the price paid for trading a franchise quarterback and finally waving the white flag of rebuilding. Unless Arthur Smith becomes the next Kyle Shanahan, Marcus Mariota returns to form, Desmond Ridder explodes or this defense somehow erupts into a league terror, don’t expect much this fall, which is okay. The 49ers are coming off an NFC Championship. It’ll probably be a tough afternoon for this young defense to contain Shanahan, and who knows where the offense will be. Though, Smith showed his penchant for willing close games last fall, so let’s say the Falcons get edged out here by a field goal. - Cory Woodroof
49ers 27 - Falcons 20
Atlanta’s brutal start to the season continues in Week 6, as the Falcons are slated to take on the San Francisco 49ers—who are fresh off an NFC Championship appearance. San Francisco’s hopes in 2022 largely rest on the performance of second-year QB Trey Lance. I’m a big believer in Lance and think he’ll end up being a good starter, so I’m high on the 49ers chances next season. The 2021 incarnation of this Falcons team struggled mightily with San Francisco. I’m hoping Atlanta plays this one a bit closer, but it’s still tough to predict a win here. - Kevin Knight