Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Around the NFC West: Selective accounting
By Mike Sando
San Francisco 49ers fans should take a look at what Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has to say about the NFC Championship Game.
Ryan sat down with Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com to analyze key aspects of the game that vaulted San Francisco to its first Super Bowl since the 1994 season.
A few things stood out from a 49ers perspective:
- Not how it works: Ryan suggests the Falcons would have won the Super Bowl had they scored a touchdown instead of settling for a field goal during a drive late in the first quarter. This is quite a leap. Four additional first-quarter points certainly would have helped the Falcons in a game they lost, 28-24. Still, we cannot reasonably assume the 49ers would have approached the rest of the game exactly the same if the score had been different. Score differential drives strategy. First-quarter plays do not stand alone.
- Willis' coverage: Ryan refers to 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis as the "worst cover guy" on the field for one pivotal play. This was the play late in the game when Ryan suffered a shoulder injury. The 49ers' Aldon Smith impeded running back Jason Snelling's release from the backfield. Ryan said he held the ball too long before taking a hard hit from Ahmad Brooks. Referring to Willis as a coverage liability seems like a harsh assessment for a player as great as Willis has been year after year.
- Strategy tips: Ryan goes into the 49ers' tendencies, noting specifically which coverages the 49ers would and would not play during certain down-and-distance situations. Knowing how Ryan feels about specific defensive looks will not necessarily give the 49ers an edge when they face the Falcons during a Week 16 game this season. It cannot hurt, either.
Overall, it's clear this game still bothers Ryan. I wonder how the 49ers might feel about Ryan's selective accounting of it.