The Falcons pass rush will have a little less bite against the 49ers in the NFC Championship on Sunday. The Falcons only double-digit sack producer, John Abraham, is questionable, but expects to play.
The Atlanta Falcons struggled to create pressure all season, finishing 28th in the NFL with only 29 sacks, and with their primary pass rusher Abraham limited with an ankle injury, creating pressure against the 49ers outstanding offensive line may be a problem.
Against the Seahawks last week, the Falcons managed two sacks, both from defensive tackles. The Falcons defensive tackles face 49ers Pro-Bowl guard Mike Iupati and center Jonathan Goodwin, who has yet to give up a sack this post season. Even if Abraham plays at a high level, he faces another Pro-Bowler in left tackle Joe Staley. Staley gave up a sack to Clay Mathews last week, but was mostly dominating against Green Bay’s All-Pro pass rusher.
The 49ers offensive line is most known for being brutally physical in the run attack, with the 3rd best average per run this season. The 49ers use a combination of power and zone run blocking, along with multiple shifts and pulling lineman to create overloads and mismatches to open huge holes for their rushers. The Falcons defense is 29th in the NFL, having allowed 4.8 yards per rush, further distancing this mismatch.
The battle in the trenches will be one to watch, as the 49ers will look to assert their dominance against a wounded Falcons team, and Atlanta will have to cook up something special to contain a physical 49er option attack.