FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The Atlanta Falcons’ defensive unit will face a tough challenge on Sunday when the San Francisco 49ers show up at the Georgia Dome. San Francisco’s main strength is without a doubt their running game, they rank fourth in the NFL, averaging roughly 156 yards per game. Atlanta’s defense is fully aware of the task at hand, and they’re focused on stopping the run.
“In the NFL, teams want to run the ball,” said linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. “I know everybody thinks it’s a pass-first league, but that’s primarily because teams really focus on stopping the run. We want to go out there, stop the run and defend the pass as well as we can.”
The good news for the Falcons is that they have some experience against mobile quarterbacks who are paired with a respectable running. Atlanta faced Cam Newton and Deangelo Williams of the Carolina Panthers, Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris of the Washington Redskins and Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch last week with the Seattle Seahawks.
Their experience against those teams will be what the Falcons fall back on in their preparation for the 49ers.
“The sense of urgency is still there,” said Weatherspoon. “You have a quarterback who can throw and pass. That definitely helps you when just saw a guy that can do the same thing.”
The 49ers are arguably the most physical team in the NFL. Their offensive line is one that does a good job blocking. It’ll be up to the Falcons defense to fight fire with fire and match their intensity.
“They do a good job of finishing blocks and staying on guys and helping their guys get to the holes,” said Weatherspoon. “That’s what you do as an offensive lineman. They’re just doing their job and it’s our job to go out there, stand up and do ours.”