How the 49ers beat the Falcons

ATLANTA – With some help from ESPN Stats & Information, let’s take a look back at how the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 28-24, in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game:

  • Although the big fear coming into the game was that San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick would destroy the Falcons with his running off the read option, that didn’t happen. The 49ers used the option on 13 rushes, but Kaepernick did not keep the ball on any of those plays. However, the damage was done by the running backs. On those plays, San Francisco’s running backs averaged 5.2 yards per carry and scored three touchdowns.

  • The Falcons also did a good job of keeping Kaepernick in the pocket. He stayed there on 21 of 23 of his dropbacks. However, Kaepernick did plenty of damage from inside the pocket, averaging 11.5 yards per pass attempt. The only time he averaged more yards from inside the pocket was in his first start, in Week 11, when he averaged 13.5 yards per attempt.

  • Atlanta’s blitz didn’t do much good. Kaepernick was 9-of-11 for 129 yards and a touchdown when the Falcons sent five or more pass rushers. Kaepernick’s main target in those situations was tight end Vernon Davis, who caught four passes for 75 yards and a touchdown when the Falcons blitzed. Kaepernick also scrambled once for 23 yards on a blitz.

  • Speaking of Davis, he hadn’t been much of a factor since Kaepernick took over as the starter. Prior to Sunday, Davis had only one touchdown catch while Kaepernick was the starter and had averaged 1.6 catches and 23.5 yards per game. Against the Falcons, Davis had five catches for 106 yards.

  • Atlanta’s offense did a nice job of protecting quarterback Matt Ryan early in the game. But that changed dramatically later on. Ryan was under duress on six of his final 12 dropbacks.

  • The 49ers overcame a 17-0 deficit to win. That's the third largest road comeback in playoff history and the largest comeback in the history of the NFC Championship Game.

  • The 49ers were held to -2 yards in the first quarter. They gained 375 yards over the final three quarters.