The 11-2 San Francisco 49ers return home to Levi's® Stadium to take on the Atlanta Falcons in Week 15, with a chance to clinch their first playoff berth since 2013. Here's what the Falcons locker room had to say ahead of Sunday's showdown against the 49ers.
Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn on how to attack the 49ers:
"This is a really accomplished running team. The way they utilize all three of the backs' speed to get on the perimeter and have the explosive plays, overall if they're not the top, they're one of the top teams in the league in explosive plays. Those lead to points where you're getting scoring to go. Explosive plays up, scoring is generally up and that's certainly the case with them. I thought from a run game standpoint, they're utilizing a fullback more than most teams, and that part of their game is probably more or as much as anybody in the league. The last part, in the question on the defensive side, you want to make sure that when you have good rushers, your run game better be on point. Your pass protection and play passes, that's a big part of what you need to do against any team that has good rushers. That's certainly a point of emphasis for us."
QB Matt Ryan on the 49ers defense:
"I think they're really good. Very good defensive line. They get after the passer. They have speed on their defense. In all three phases, they run well. They're playing aggressive. They're playing with confidence. They do a great job of attacking the football. All in all, really good defense that's playing with a lot of confidence."
Ryan on what he's seen from scouting 49ers linebacker Fred Warner:
"He kind of moves around into different spots. He does a good job of giving you some different looks on third down. Getting into the line of scrimmage, getting out of there. Playing coverage - coming, not coming. They do a good job, not only with him but with everybody, changing up their tendencies and giving you a bunch of different looks."
Ryan on the play of Ahkello Witherspoon and Emmanuel Moseley:
"I think all of their guys have done a nice job when their numbers have been called. It's hard to find a game or a week where they haven't played well. They let up some points last week, but that was just because that game seemed to be one of those high-scoring games. I think the key to their defense is their pass rush. The get off and getting after the quarterback, I think that makes everything go for them. When the secondary played more aggressive, it lets those guys kind of sit in routes and do some different things."
Ryan on playing against his cousin, 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey:
"It's going to be really cool. He's a kid to me, but he's out there playing like a grown man. He's playing really, really well. I'm excited for him. I'm glad I don't have to go against him on the field actually. He's pretty physical and that wouldn't be fun to get hit by him. It's going to be a good experience. I've obviously been a huge fan of his from high school, to college, through his first couple of years in the NFL. It'll be a lot of fun for myself and our family to see that happen."
Ryan on the impact Kyle Shanahan had on his career:
"Kyle had a huge impact on my career. He challenged me to get better, improve in certain areas and taught me a lot about offensive football. Just seeing things from a different perspective, I feel like I made big jumps in the two years we were together and I'm happy for him that he's having great success. He works his ass off. He works extremely hard. He's one of those guys, he's grinding all week. I remember when he was here, looking at him by Friday afternoon and being like, 'Dude, you need to get some sleep. Get some rest.' He'd come in looking refreshed Saturday and Sunday, but he would grind through the week. It's no surprise that he has their offense playing well because he's excellent at knowing what to do. I think that was one of his biggest strengths here too. Having an understanding for what he wants as an offense and finding the specific pieces that fit within what he wants to do. He's really good about that."
WR Julio Jones on facing the 49ers defense:
"All around they're just a talented defense. I think they're number one in the league in passing yards allowed, things like that. It's more about us than them at the same time. You definitely have to scheme and do things like that. For us, just taking the thinking out of it and just going out there playing fast and winning your matchups."
Linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich on the challenge of facing the 49ers offense:
"First from an X and O standpoint, very familiar. From the standpoint we faced that offense for years. We have some guys that were still here when Kyle was our offensive coordinator. There's something there that's familiar for them. From a personnel standpoint you've got a lot of problems. Obviously, we're very familiar with (49ers running back) Tevin Coleman and I was thinking he was going to be like the speed back and the other guys were going to be the option runners, and they're all Tevin. You've got three very similar versions of Tevin, very fast. You've got a tight end that's playing as good as any tight end in the NFL right now. Matchup problem for the small athletic guys. Matchup problem for the big, not as fast guys. Then you've got receivers who can take the top off. A quarterback who's playing well and an offensive line that's humming. It's going to be a fantastic challenge."
Ulbrich on Shanahan's ability as a play caller:
"Kyle makes it extremely difficult. He's a very talented play caller. He does a great job with their personnel. Really featuring their guys in the best way. It's one of those games, you'd like to say, 'Trust your keys, trust your reads, trust your eyes and your rules.' He's going to test them in every way. So, it's going to take great discipline from beginning to end. He's a good challenge. It's a challenge in a season that hasn't gone as well as we'd like it. It's one where you covet these opportunities to show people what you should've been and could've been."