If they can nab one of them, it would be the smartest thing the 49ers have done in quite some time.
Shanahan made his case — again — to be a head coach with the performance of the Falcons’ offense Saturday as they ousted the Seahawks from the playoffs with a 36-20 triumph. Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns. Three different receivers had touchdown catches. Tailback Devonta Freeman added a touchdown run. Atlanta had touchdown drives of 99, 75 and 75 yards.
But as striking as it was to see that done against Seattle, it’s what Shanahan, Ryan, wide receiver Julio Jones and the Atlanta offense have done all season. The Falcons had the league’s highest-scoring offense during the regular season, and they simply carried that over into Saturday.
They will play in the NFC title game next Sunday, either at Dallas or at home against the Green Bay Packers, depending upon the outcome of Sunday’s other NFC matchup. Can the Falcons win? Sure they can. Their offense gives them a chance against anyone.
Their defense and special teams struggled at times Saturday. The defense looked shaky on an impressive early touchdown drive by the Seahawks but settled down from there. The Falcons took advantage of Seattle’s pitiable offensive line and harassed quarterback Russell Wilson into three sacks and two interceptions.
That is the sort of complementary defense that the Falcons must play, generating turnovers and allowing the offense to do the rest. They’re not good enough on that side of the football to go out and shut down opposing offenses.
As for the Seahawks, they were a pretender for most of the second half of the regular season, and Saturday’s result reinforced that. Seattle was 3-4-1 on the road during the regular season. The Seahawks never played with the consistency needed for a true championship contender. They alternated wins and losses for most of the second half of the season. Once safety Earl Thomas was lost from the defense, they were basically done as a viable Super Bowl threat.
Saturday only made it official.