Gabbert propels 49ers to win over fading Falcons

*Colin Kaepernick who? The 49ers' offense moved the ball consistently against Dan Quinn's Falcons defense and Blaine Gabbert tossed two touchdowns to Garrett Celek in San Francisco's 17-16 win. *

  1. Vernon Davis? Traded. Colin Kaepernick? Benched. Carlos Hyde and Reggie Bush? Injured. A prognosticator with any sense would have written the 49ers' offense off on Sunday, especially with first-round draft bust Blaine Gabbert at the helm.

However, the bench did the former Jaguar good, as he put up surprisingly solid numbers -- 15-for-25, 185 yards and two touchdowns to Davis' replacement at tight end, Garrett Celek. More importantly, Gabbert looked active and aware in the pocket, qualities that Kaepernick had been lacking in recent weeks -- Gabbert capped (no pun intended) off the win with a nifty scramble.

Though the Falcons didn't muster up much of a pass rush -- Gabbert wasn't sacked once -- San Francisco's improved offensive performance at home could be indicative of a late-season turnaround as long as he is still under center. Coach Jim Tomsula told the media after the game that he wouldn't commit to Gabbert starting next week's game at the Seahawks.

  1. Atlanta had a shot to put the game away late. Down four points midway through the fourth quarter, Falcons rookie linebacker Vic Beasley snagged his first interception as a pro and set up Atlanta at their own 33. Matt Ryan led a beautiful drive into the red zone, which stalled within the 10. On fourth-and goal from the one-yard line, with Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman in tow, Dan Quinn played it close to the vest and opted to kick a field goal to cut the lead to one. The rookie coach obviously thought the mortal Blaine Gabbert couldn't possibly get the 49ers another first down, but, oh, he was sorely mistaken.
  1. NaVorro Bowman is still playing like a bad man and led the Niners to their best defensive performance of the season. The linebacker made life uncomfortable for the overmatched Falcons' offensive line and terrorized Matt Ryan all day to the tune of seven total tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss. But the unsung hero on the day on defense was recently-activated cornerback Marcus Cromartie, who was a force on the line of scrimmage all day -- seven tackles and two tackles for loss -- despite suffering a mid-game facial laceration.
  1. Freeman's hot start to the season has cooled off considerably. The Falcons running back mustered a measly 12 yards on the ground on 12 carries against a feisty 49ers front seven. Freeman found space out of the backfield on short passes for 67 yards and a first-half touchdown, but otherwise was a non-factor for the struggling Atlanta offense.
  1. What to make of the Falcons? Once 5-0 -- with four wins against the NFC East -- Dan Quinn's squad has stumbled against lesser opponents in three consecutive weeks. After a hot start to the season, Atlanta (6-3) has started games cold, going down big to the Saints, Buccaneers and 49ers in their three losses. With the Panthers (8-0) pulling away with the NFC South and the Vikings (6-2) surging in the standings, the Falcons' playoff hopes are losing steam week-by-week.
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