49ers will travel to Atlanta for NFC title game

January 13, 2013, 12:45 pm
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The 49ers will hit the road for the NFC Championship Game.

The Atlanta Falcons squandered a 20-point fourth-quarter lead, and then came from behind to defeat the Seattle Seahawks, 30-28, on Matt Bryant's 49-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining.

Afterward, FOX field reporter Laura Okmin asked Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan how long before the Falcons turn their attention to the 49ers.

"Soon, soon," Ryan said. "That's a good defense. We can enjoy it for a little bit, but get back to work. We got some more work to do."

The Falcons, the NFC's No. 1 seed, will play host to the second-seeded 49ers next Sunday at noon (PT) at the Georgia Dome. The winner will advance to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans on Sunday, Feb. 3.

The Falcons, who won the NFC South with a 13-3 record, are 8-1 in home games. Their only defeat at the Georgia Dome came in the regular-season finale, a 22-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The 49ers will make their second straight appearance in the NFC Championship Game in coach Jim Harbaugh's two seasons. Last year, the 49ers lost 20-17 in overtime to the eventual Super Bowl-champion New York Giants at Candlestick Park.

The Falcons feature a strong passing attack. Ryan had a 99.1 passer rating with 4,719 yards with 32 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

The 49ers have fared well this season against some of the top-rated quarterbacks in the league: Aaron Rodgers (2-0), Tom Brady (1-0) and Drew Brees (1-0).

The Falcons have two of the top wideouts in the league: Roddy White (1,351 yards, seven touchdowns) and Julio Jones (1,198 yards, 10 touchdowns). Also, tight end Tony Gonzalez led the Falcons with 93 receptions for 930 yards and eight touchdowns.

Atlanta has the capability of fielding a solid ground game, too. Michael Turner, who rushed for 1,340 yards in 2011, had a down year with 800 yards rushing (3.6 average) and 10 touchdowns. Jacquizz Rodgers added 362 yards and one touchdown in the regular season, but had a big day Sunday against the Seahawks.

Perhaps the most intriguing matchup will take place on the other side of the ball. And it'll take place in the coaching booth.

Former 49ers coach Mike Nolan, who was 18-37 in 3 1/2 seasons as head coach, is the Falcons' defensive coordinator. Greg Roman, the 49ers' offensive coordinator, came up with an outstanding game plan in a 45-31 victory Saturday night over the Green Bay Packers. The 49ers rolled up 579 yards of total offense and controlled the ball for 38 minutes.