The 49ers dominated their matchup with the Falcons on Sunday and won going away, 31-13. But the fun had by San Francisco wasn’t in the final score. It was how they got there.
Coach Kyle Shanahan’s bunch physically outmatched the Falcons from the game’s outset, starting after a 49ers fumble on the opening kickoff gave the Falcons prime field position in the red zone. San Francisco’s defense stiffened and didn’t allow a score when Atlanta went for it on fourth down from the 1-yard line.
In fact, that was a theme throughout the afternoon for the defense; the group made two goal-line stands on the day.
But it wasn’t just the defense that had fun in this win. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel sent A.J Terrell’s mouthpiece flying in this big hit after a catch and run in the second half.
Samuel also had a rushing touchdown, displaying further toughness from his wideout position. He’s already notched the most rushing touchdowns in a season by a wide receiver in NFL history, and Samuel has a chance to be the first-ever WR to lead his team in rushing touchdowns in a single campaign. He has seven such plays thus far.
So when Deebo catches and runs, defenders had better beware, clearly.
This win epitomizes the physical identity the 49ers want to have. With players like Samuel, opponents are officially on notice. And San Franciso is in prime playoff position, too, with an 8-6 record. Next up, the squad has a quick turnaround and will face the Titans in Tennesse on Thursday Night Football.
Note: Samuel is currently tied for the all-time, single-season mark in rushing touchdowns by a WR. He shares the distinction with Hall of Famer Lenny Moore, a halfback and flanker for the Colts from 1956-67. Moore actually had more career rushing touchdowns than receiving, with 63 on the ground and 48 through the air, respectively. A fun note on Moore: he led the NFL in yards per touch in each of his first six seasons in the league.