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Three Keys To Victory: Week Six

The 3-2 San Francisco 49ers will face the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday on the road in hopes of racking up their fourth win of the season. While the Niners should be considered the favorites, they are entering this game with an injury report that isn’t ideal. Here are the three keys to victory against Atlanta.

49ers Depth: Next Man Up

The 49ers have been dealing with a handful of concerning injuries since their victory over the Carolina Panthers. Since last week, starting cornerback Emmanuel Moseley tore his ACL and a handful of other players suffered nagging injuries that could keep them out for a while. Some of the players whose availability is in question this Sunday are Nick Bosa, Samson Ebukam, Javon Kinlaw and Aaron Banks. Arik Armstead will also miss some time with a foot injury.

The biggest concern would be the availability of Nick Bosa. Bosa is a strong candidate for defensive player of the year in 2022 and for a team whose strength is the defensive side of the football, losing their best defensive player is a huge blow. Bosa has been dealing with groin tightness. Many fans have debated this past week whether or not the 49ers should rest Nick Bosa this Sunday and trust the depth of the defensive line against the Falcons so he can be ready for the Chiefs matchup the following week.

Whether he rests or not, the backups on this roster need to step up this Sunday. If Jason Verrett is deemed ready, he will start for Emmanuel Moseley at corner as his replacement, but the defensive line is what is in question. Can the 49ers consistently stop the running game without both of their starting interior defensive linemen? Well, it seems like they’ll have no choice.

Not only stopping the run on the defensive front, but Bosa leads the NFL in pass-rush pressure rate. He is also tied for the league lead in sacks with six on the season so far. The 49ers have to maintain an immense level of pressure on Marcus Mariota to help out the secondary and hopefully force him into some bad throws.

Depth will be a huge factor in this game as you want to avoid the possible “trap game” this Sunday. It should be an interesting test for the Niners’ defense if Bosa doesn’t suit up.

Offensive Execution

The 49ers for the majority of this season have struggled on offense. If the Niners hope to seriously contend for a Super Bowl, they’ll need to work these wrinkles out early and find their rhythm. They started to find it with their performance in Carolina, but can it carry over into the next week?

With the injuries the 49ers have to deal with at this moment, it makes it even more important that Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense execute their game plan and play mistake-free football. By mistake-free, I mean free of turnovers. If the Niners turn the ball over against a team like Atlanta who has produced very similar numbers offensively, you could be looking at a troublesome close game.

As mentioned earlier, the 49ers will be short-handed defensively this Sunday and as great as that unit has been, you don’t want to keep relying on them to be nearly perfect every week. At some point, you’d like to see your offense put a team away. This Sunday might be that day.

The Atlanta Falcons are giving up an abysmal 405 yards of offense per game this season. Knowing that statistic, there should be no excuse to see the 49ers go out there on Sunday and struggle to move the chains and put points on the board. If they’re not producing, something is seriously wrong. The Falcons are giving up 290-passing yards per game and about 115-rushing yards per game. This team simply cannot defend and that shouldn’t all the sudden change against the 49ers with the amount of talent they have. If the offense isn’t putting up some of their best numbers of the season, it will likely be due to self-inflicted wounds.

Be potent offensively and take care of the football.

Special Teams Bounce-Back

The 49ers spent money in free agency this off-season to improve what was one of the worst special teams units in the NFL last season. Last week in Carolina, it looked as bad as ever on special teams both in returning kicks and covering them.

It was so bad in fact that kicker Robbie Gould had to make two tackles in the game and suffered a knee bruise. Thankfully, Gould returned to practice and should be fine this Sunday. If special teams is so bad that the kicker is making multiple tackles in a game, then it can also cost you games that you have no business losing. After allowing their second blocked field goal of the season last week and some huge returns, you’d like to see the special teams unit bounce back this Sunday and not put the team in a position to lose.

The 49ers won a playoff game against the first-seed Packers last year heavily because the Packers’ special teams allowed the Niners to take the game away. You don’t want to turn into that team, especially after an off-season that emphasized improving that unit. With a short-handed defense and inconsistent offense thus far, it would be great to see the special teams unit step up and execute this Sunday to help secure the 49ers’ fourth victory of the season.

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