Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann
The San Francisco 49ers dropped a heartbreaker against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, losing 29-22 at Levi’s Stadium. On the surface, this looks like a terrible loss but in actuality, the 49ers clinched a playoff spot and not much has changed since their victory over the New Orleans Saints. How does the stock look this week?
Stock Push: Control of Their Own Destiny
Let’s get this out of the way immediately. Despite being fifth in the NFC standings as of now, if the 49ers win their last two games, they will be the number 1 seed and have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The division title almost hinges entirely on their Week 17 matchup with the rival Seattle Seahawks because even if they drop this Saturday’s matchup against the Los Angeles Rams, there is a still a litany of tiebreakers the Seahawks would have to overcome to take the division away.
Stock Up: George Kittle Proves his Importance
Tight end George Kittle posted season-highs with 13 catches and 134 yards and was the main reason that the 49ers were able to move the ball with any sort of consistency. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo attempted 34 passes and 17 of them were directed at Kittle. He was also a madman in the blocking game and he continually mauled Falcons defenders at the second level, including this Raheem Mostert touchdown run:
It is very safe to say that without Kittle, the 49ers offense would have been sunk.
Stock Down: Pass Catchers Not Named George Kittle
While Kittle had the lion’s share of targets, wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne combined for 4 catches and 49 yards on just 9 targets. Facing an Atlanta team that previously had issues containing teams, this was a disappointing performance from the WR corps. Before the playoffs begin, they need to get the wrinkles ironed out.
Stock Up: Armstead and Buckner Were Twin Terrors
Both were first round picks from the University of Oregon, both stand at 6’7” and both spent their Sunday terrorizing the Atlanta offense. They were routinely in the backfield disrupting run and pass plays and kept QB Matt Ryan and company uncomfortable the whole game. With injuries stacking up all along the defensive line, Armstead and Buckner will need to play at a very high level moving forward.
Stock Down: The Cornerbacks Tackled Very Well
Cornerbacks Emmanuel Moseley and Ahkello Witherspoon were exceptional at bringing down Falcons receivers on Sunday. Unfortunately, that meant they were allowing catches before making said tackles. Falcons WR Julio Jones routinely abused the banged up 49ers secondary as he matched George Kittle’s production while adding a pair of touchdowns. Speaking of Julio Jones’s touchdowns…
Stock Down: Final Drive Defense
For the second consecutive week, the 49ers usually stingy defense has allowed an opposing team to march down the field and score a touchdown with under a minute left on the clock. Luckily for the 49ers, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints left enough time on the clock for Garoppolo to get the win. Unfortunately, a very good defensive performance on Sunday is going to be forgotten because of the final drive. By a quarter of the tip of the football, Julio Jones scored the winning touchdown that was originally ruled short. That left a bad taste in peoples’ mouths and is the only thing that will be remembered about this game.
Stock Up: Raheem Mostert Is the Feature Back
Running back Raheem Mostert continued to show that he is the man to be featured in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. He was clearly the best running back on the field and was also a very effective special-teams player on punt coverages. On a team with many redemption stories, Mostert’s may very well be the best. An all-around player, its hard to not show him love in yet another Stock Watch.
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