Atlanta's past playoff losses under coach Mike Smith were painful and confusing for Falcons fans because the team seemed to lose its sense of self when December flipped to January. That wasn't a problem early against the 49ers.
Receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White were outrageous out of the gate. Jones went into halftime with 135 yards and two scores, but he accounted for just 13 more yards over the final two quarters. White recorded 91 receiving yards before intermission, but he was quiet for the rest of the game.
The Jekyll-and-Hyde act touched Matt Ryan, too: After lighting it up for 271 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, he threw for just 46 yards in the second half and gave the ball away on consecutive drives.
As a team, the Falcons pumped out a dizzying 17 first downs in just 33 plays during a lopsided first half. They finished with just five the rest of the way, and -- well -- you get the idea.
These are numbers and scenarios the Falcons will replay in their minds for the next eight months. They have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, but they've struggled to put together complete games in January. They came close against the 49ers on Sunday. Close enough to hurt.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.