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Sunday, January 20, 2013
First-half thoughts as 49ers trail, 24-14

By Mike Sando

ATLANTA -- The San Francisco 49ers entered the NFC Championship Game having allowed at least 31 points to three of their previous four opponents.

It's looking like that trend will continue after Atlanta jumped to a 24-14 halftime lead over the 49ers in the Georgia Dome.

This one has been pretty easy to analyze. The 49ers' four-man pass rushes aren't affecting Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Five-man rushes aren't working, either.

As a result, Ryan has completed 18 of 24 passes (74 percent) for 271 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. Julio Jones already has seven catches for 135 yards and two scores.

The 49ers' offense awakened in the second quarter and appears capable of putting up points, but trading touchdowns isn't going to be enough.

San Francisco does get the ball to open the second half. A touchdown by San Francisco would offset the touchdown pass Ryan threw to Tony Gonzalez right before halftime. But if the 49ers' defense doesn't fare better than this, San Francisco will have an extremely tough time advancing to the Super Bowl.

The 49ers kept only four defensive linemen active for this game. That indicated they felt top defensive lineman Justin Smith was healthy. Smith has not been effective to this point. The Falcons have now allowed zero sacks over their last six quarters against the 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.