Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
I like the 49ers' chances against the Falcons better after watching Atlanta's most recent game, a defeat at New England in Week 3.
Patriots left tackle Matt Light handled Falcons pass-rusher John Abraham quite well. This will be a good test for 49ers left tackle Joe Staley. Staley held up well against the Vikings' Jared Allen after allowing a sack on the first play of the game (of all the times for Jimmy Raye to come out passing, but that is for another discussion).
The Patriots were not very sharp offensively in that game, scoring one touchdown in five red zone trips, but they were still much more productive than the 49ers have been most of the time. Fred Taylor rushed for 105 yards. I'm hesitant to suggest the 49ers will have similar success running the ball against the Falcons. Atlanta had to worry about Tom Brady and Randy Moss. But in watching the Patriots rush 39 times for 168 yards, including some runs from heavier personnel groups similar to the ones San Francisco favors, the 49ers should have some chances.
The 49ers' struggles on the offensive line (both guard spots) against the Rams in Week 4 seemed troubling despite the lopsided outcome. The Falcons' defensive line isn't the same, however, after losing rookie Peria Jerry to a season-ending injury. Atlanta's defensive line hasn't played well overall. Linebacker Mike Peterson did appear quite active against the Patriots, slashing into the backfield a few times. New England did manage to get a tight end matched against a cornerback. The 49ers would take that with Vernon Davis.
The 49ers' defense should fare well against the Falcons' offense based on what I saw from Atlanta in Week 3. The 49ers have not allowed a rushing touchdown this season. Michael Turner is averaging only 3.5 yards per attempt for the Falcons. San Francisco is allowing 1.5 yards per carry outside the numbers, second only to the Ravens (1.4).