San Francisco 49ers

49ers game plan: Matchup with Tony Gonzalez is one to watch

49ERS GAME AT A GLANCE

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Opponent:

vs. Atlanta



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Time:

5:40 p.m.



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Line:

49ers by 13



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Records:

49ers 10-4, Falcons 4-10



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TV/radio:

ESPN (Mike Tirico play-by-play, Jon Gruden color), 680, 1320




MATCHUP TO WATCH

Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez vs. 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis

Gonzalez insists he’s retiring at the end of the season, but his statistics suggest he can play at least another year. The 17-year veteran has 71 catches and leads his team with seven touchdown catches. Meanwhile, the 49ers have had trouble defending tight ends the past two weeks, first the Seahawks’ Luke Willson and then the Buccaneers’ Tim Wright last week. Both had touchdown catches, and Wright led all receivers in Tampa. The task of covering Gonzalez mostly will fall to Willis and safety Donte Whitner. In last season’s NFC Championship Game, Gonzalez had eight catches for 78 yards and a touchdown.


THREE KEYS TO GAME

• The 49ers must come up with a replacement for do-everything fullback Bruce Miller, who is out for the season. Anthony Dixon will get the first crack. The question is whether Dixon is physical enough for the job.



• Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is out for the year with an injury, but the 49ers shouldn’t relax. Backup receiver Harry Douglas leads the Falcons with 73 catches for 963 yards. Douglas doesn’t have Jones’ size, but he’s very slippery.



• The 49ers’ Phil Dawson has kicked an amazing 24 consecutive field goals this season. It’s important that he stays hot as the weather turns cold. The 49ers’ first-round playoff game could be played outdoors in a wintry city.




INJURY REPORT

49ERS

• Questionable: G Mike Iupati (knee), WR Mario Manningham (illness, knee), TE Vance McDonald (ankle), LB Dan Skuta (foot)

• Probable: LB NaVorro Bowman (wrist), CB Tarell Brown (ribs), WR Michael Crabtree (ankle, wrist), C Jonathan Goodwin (not injury related), RB Frank Gore (ankle, knee), DT Justin Smith (shoulder)

FALCONS

• Out: WR Darius Johnson (ankle), S Zeke Motta (hand, neck)

• Questionable: TE Tony Gonzalez (toe), RB Antone Smith (knee), LB Sean Weatherspoon (knee)

• Probable: S Thomas DeCoud (concussion)

– Matthew Barrows

49ERS SCHEDULE

Date Opponent Results
Sept. 8 Green Bay W, 34-28
Sept. 15 at Seattle L, 29-3
Sept. 22 Indianapolis L, 27-7
Sept. 26 at St. Louis W, 35-11
Oct. 6 Houston W, 34-3
Oct. 13 Arizona W, 32-20
Oct. 20 at Tennessee W, 31-17
Oct. 27 at Jacksonville W, 42-10
Nov. 3 BYE
Nov. 10 Carolina L, 10-9
Nov. 17 at New Orleans L, 23-20
Nov. 25 at Washington W, 27-6
Dec. 1 St. Louis W, 23-13
Dec. 8 Seattle W, 19-17
Dec. 15 at Tampa Bay W, 33-14
Date Opponent Time
Today Atlanta 5:40 p.m.
Dec. 29 at Arizona 1:25 p.m.
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