Could Niners Fall in Trap Game?

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By Joe Lami

The Niners are coming out of a prizefight, and they’re beaten up like it too after last Sunday’s shootout with the Saints. The Niners’ defense will be without Richard Sherman (hamstring), D.J. Jones (ankle), Dee Ford (quad, hamstring), Jaquiski Tartt (ribs), and K’Waun Williams (concussion). Controlling their own destiny for the NFC one-seed, the banged-up Niners can’t afford to overlook the 4-8 Atlanta Falcons this Sunday.

And they shouldn’t, Kyle Shanahan will have the Niners prepared to face his old squad.

The Falcons might be 4-8, but they bring the seventh-best passing offense into Levi’s this Sunday.

Matt Ryan has been good, but not great this year, nothing like he was under Shanahan. He’s completing 66.7% of his passes for 22 TDs and 12 INTs for a 93.4 passer rating on the year. Meanwhile, Garoppolo’s completed 69.5% of his passes for 25 TDs and 11 INTs for a 103.9 rating.

Ryan has one of the most dangerous targets, with Julio Jones on the field. Jones was limited in practice earlier in the week, but returned to full practice on Friday, indicating he’s ready to go.

Jones enters Sunday seventh in the NFL with 1,016 receiving yards, and he becomes extra dangerous with how short-handed the secondary will be. Last week the 49ers surrendered 134 yards and a touchdown to Michael Thomas, Jones will attempt to do the same.

While the Falcons offense has been decent this year, much better than their 4-8 record indicates, their downfall has been their defense. The Falcons have the 26th scoring defense, the 21st total defense, and the 25th 3rd down defense.

All of this mediocrity should add up to a field day for the Niners offense. After putting up 48 on another elite defense last week, they should be eager to go. Expect Matt Breida to return to more carries after last week’s six carry 54-yard performance.

This game could smell a little bit of a trap game, especially with the injuries the Niners have on defense. As long as the defense plays alright, the offense should have no problem putting up points on the Falcons. If the defense struggles without half it’s starting rotation, they could be in for a shootout.

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