One thing San Francisco 49ers fans are starting to understand is that nothing comes easy for their team. Jim Harbaugh and company fell down 17-0 and looked to be on the verge of being run out of the Georgia Dome against what looked to be a high-flying Atlanta Falcons offense.
Then a funny thing happened.
San Francisco went to the running game with Frank Gore and LaMichael James, who responded by jumpstarting what was a flat offense. The 49ers cut the lead to 17-14 before Matt Ryan hit Tony Gonzalez to end the first half and give the Falcons a 10-point lead into intermission. Those would be the final points that Atlanta scored on the day.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio made some amazing adjustments, especially in the defensive secondary as the 49ers' defense came out and played damn good football in the second half. While Aldon Smith and Justin Smith didn't get to Ryan, they did create timing issues in the passing game.
Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick started throwing absolute darts out there, hitting Randy Moss and Vernon Davis in lieu of Michael Crabtree, who didn't have a big game.
Still, San Francisco was unable to take the lead after it literally blew two Atlanta turnovers. David Akers missed a chippy field goal on one drive, while Crabtree fumbled inside the Falcons one on the next drive. Still, San Francisco's defense stepped up big time forcing a three-and-out. Starting inside Atlanta's 40, Kaepernick led the 49ers to a go-ahead touchdown on a drive that ended with Frank Gore's second score of the game.
While San Francisco did allow the Falcons to drive down the field towards the end of the game, both Ahmad Brooks and NaVorro Bowman came up with two huge plays to hold the lead.
In the end, the 49ers went on to win the game and earn their sixth Super Bowl appearance.
It wasn't the greatest performance by any stretch of the imagination, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Atlanta tallied nearly 300 yards of total offense in the first half, while jumping all over the 49ers' secondary.
Halftime adjustments enabled San Francisco to complete a second-half shutout of the Falcons and send the team to New Orleans.
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