Three keys to the game for the 49ers and the Falcons

This is the opening to my Saturday article on the keys to the game for the 49ers and the Falcons.

The Falcons need a miracle to beat the 49ers this Sunday. That’s the consensus of NFL critics. The Falcons need a fire alarm to go off in the 49ers’ hotel at 3 a.m. They need the entire 49ers team — players and coaches — to evacuate the building and catch the flu as they stand outside shivering in their pajamas.

Forget that. The Falcons are a terrific team, a 14-win team with pride. If they can accomplish the following three keys to the game, they will have a puncher’s chance to beat the 49ers.

1. Be the aggressor

The 49ers are the Mike Tyson of the NFL. They hurt teams and they scare them, sometimes before the game even starts. Some teams are afraid to try running up the middle near Justin Smith or throwing over the middle near Dashon Goldson. The only teams that have beaten the 49ers this season are the teams that went right at them and punched back.

The Falcons can punch the 49ers by running 250-pound tailback Michael Turner up the middle. If the Falcons can establish him on the first drive, as the Rams did with Steven Jackson, the Seahawks did with Marshawn Lynch and the Vikings did with Adrian Peterson, that will open up the play-action passing game and take away the 49ers’ bullying mystique.

To read the full article, click here.

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