49ers-Falcons: Five key matchups

49ers-Falcons: Five key matchups
January 19, 2013, 9:00 am
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Mike Nolan led the 49ers to an 18-37 record before he was fired in his fourth season as the head coach. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Insider Matt Maiocco details the marquee matchups featured in Sunday's NFC Championship showdown between the 49ers and Falcons:


Key Matchup No. 5

Justin Smith vs. Justin Blalock

Now that there's no question Justin Smith should be able to function over the course of an entire game, the 49ers can expect him to be a significant factor in the NFC title game on Sunday.


Key Matchup No. 4

Patrick Willis vs. Tony Gonzalez

Tony Gonzalez is "95-percent sure" he'll retire after the season. The 49ers are 100-percent sure this won't be his last game if he's not covered well.


Key Matchup No. 3

Greg Roman vs. Mike Nolan

Can Falcons defensive coordinator, and former 49ers head coach, Mike Nolan, slow down Greg Roman's offense Sunday?


Key Matchup No. 2

Colin Kaepernick vs. Thomas DeCoud

The man in Atlanta's secondary that will be watching Colin Kaepernick the closest is free safety Thomas DeCoud, who led the Falcons with six interceptions during the regular season.


Key Matchup No. 1

49ers CBs vs. Falcons WRs

Falcons WR's Roddy White and Julio Jones both caught for over 1,000 yards this season, and should provide a challenge for Carlos Rogers and his fellow CBs.



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