Opponent: vs. Atlanta
Time: 1:05 p.m.
Line: Falcons by 7
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Records: 49ers 2-6, Falcons 6-2
TV/Radio: Ch. 40 (Chris Myers, Ronde Barber), 680, 1320
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
Blaine Gabbert 2.0: The 49ers’ new starting quarterback hasn’t started an NFL game since Week 5 of the 2013 season when he was with the Jaguars. He was fairly ineffective until that point and the question is whether Gabbert can reboot his career the way some other quarterbacks have. One notable concern: Poor pass protection, which plagued Gabbert in Jacksonville, also has been an issue with the 49ers.
Hello, my name is … : None of the 49ers’ three healthy running backs – Shaun Draughn, Pierre Thomas and Kendall Gaskins – were on the team in the run-up to last week’s game. Thomas has the most experience and seems to be in good shape. But he hasn’t played since last season as a member of the New Orleans Saints. Draughn at least was with a team, the Cleveland Browns, two weeks ago. Carlos Hyde is sitting out another game with a foot injury, so look for the 49ers to spread the carries among the three newcomers.
Who’s No. 1? Say what you will about Vernon Davis’ tailspin over the last 1 1/2 seasons, he still was their No. 1 option at tight end over that span. Now that Davis is in Denver it’s more fuzzy. Does that role go to Garrett Celek, a one-time blocking specialist who has become a much more reliable target in the passing game, or Vance McDonald, a high draft pick in 2013 who has yet to live up to his draft status. Rookie Blake Bell also is likely to be worked into the offense with Davis gone.
What’s your defense?: The 49ers allowed 197 rushing yards to the Rams in Week 8, 133 of them to rookie Todd Gurley. They now rank 23rd in the NFL in rushing defense and are facing the league’s rushing leader, Devonta Freeman. The diminutive Freeman – he’s 5-foot-8 – is averaging 4.7 yards per carry and has scored nine rushing touchdowns. He also has 40 catches for 353 yards this season and promises to be a challenge for the 49ers’ linebackers.
Just for kicks: Rookie punter Bradley Pinion hasn’t been very effective this season and is now dealing with a calf injury. And the player who started the year at punt returner, Jarryd Hayne, has been demoted to the practice squad while the next man up, Reggie Bush, is out for the season with a knee injury. That leaves Bruce Ellington, who’s been injury prone in 2015. If he gets hurt? The 49ers haven’t said who the new backup is.
Out: RB Mike Davis (hand), RB Carlos Hyde (foot), S L.J. McCray (knee)
Doubtful: WR Anquan Boldin (hamstring)
Questionable: CB Kenneth Acker (chest, concussion), CB Tramaine Brock (shin), TE Garrett Celek (concussion), CB Keith Reaser (not injury related, ankle)
Probable: G Alex Boone (knee), LB Navorro Bowman (shoulder), LB Ahmad Brooks (shoulder), P Bradley Pinion (right calf), S Eric Reid (chest), T Joe Staley (shoulder)
Out: CB Robert Alford (groin), LB Justin Durant (calf), WR Leonard Hankerson (hamstring), S William Moore (groin)
Questionable: LB Vic Beasley (foot)
Probable: DT Jonathan Babineaux (not injury related), DE Tyson Jackson (ribs), C Mike Person (ankle), C James Stone (calf), CB Desmond Trufant (back), WR Nick Williams (hamstring)
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