Following Sunday's loss to the 49ers, the Falcons said QB Colin Kaepernick was who they thought he was: a talented young QB that could beat you with his arm and his legs.
The Falcons had a solid game plan against the second-year QB and after the first half they'd limited him to 99 yards passing and one 23-yard rush. The game turned out to be a tale of two halves, not unlike last week's win over Seattle, but in this version the Falcons couldn't get a key stop when they needed it. Kaepernick completed seven of his nine passes in the second half for 134 yards and while he didn't throw a touchdown, he was efficient in moving his offense and set up the final two scores.
Atlanta's defense stayed on the field for a large portion of the second half and when they had chances to put an end to Kaepernick's drives, they couldn't do it.
"We had other chances to get off the field on defense," cornerback Dunta Robinson said. "We didn't get it done. Our offense was playing so well, all we had to do was get the ball back in their hands. Who knows what could have taken place. I really can't pinpoint one thing or another. I think we could have played much better than we did, I know I could have played much better than I did. We've got to get stops. They did a great job."
Much like last week, the Falcons defense suffered at the hands of the opponent's tight end. After giving up big yards to Seattle's Zach Miller last week, they allowed Vernon Davis on Sunday to lead San Francisco's offense. Davis ended the day with 106 receiving yards on five catches with one touchdown.
Davis emerged in the second quarter and his one touchdown, a 4-yard pass from Kaepernick, brought the 49ers to within a field goal. On that possession, he also caught passes for 25, 19 and 25 yards. He came up big for Kaepernick catching those key passes on that pivotal drive, a drive that began to help the 49ers generate the momentum that carried them through to the end.
"He did his job and he played well," defensive end John Abraham said. "We let him get open and made big plays when he needed to. We just didn't make the big plays when we needed to at certain times. It's a terrible feeling. You don't get this close in life to something you want so bad and have it slip away from you. It hurts."
Although the Falcons made if further into the playoffs this season than they have under head coach Mike Smith, this year's loss is still painful. After a comeback win last week, one of many they've conducted this season, the Falcons had reason to feel good about their chances at home. Though they played a good game, those late-game stops that they couldn't make started to hurt them. Most players in the locker room struggled to discuss their feelings following the loss, but most could admit a step further in the playoffs makes a loss that much more difficult.
"We were riding that high of last week and to come out play well in the first half and in the second half," safety Thomas DeCoud said. "It's sour. It does hurt a little worse than last year."