By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Atlanta Falcons look to bounce back with trip to struggling 49ers
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan fumbles the ball away to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the snap trying to hand off to running back Devonta Freeman during the second quarter of Sunday's game in Atlanta. - photo by Curtis Compton

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Blaine Gabbert is back on the field for a second chance with all the skeptics figuring he can’t begin to fix a problem that goes far beyond the quarterback position.

Colin Kaepernick had his opportunities and then some for San Francisco, and he’s headed to the bench after failing to deliver week after week.

The turmoil inside Levi’s Stadium hit new levels this week as the 49ers (2-6) prepared for the Falcons with a new man under center in Gabbert behind a shaky offensive line that has done little to protect the quarterback.

“It’s always kind of a funny deal in the NFL when you hear your number called because you never know when it’s going to be,” Gabbert said.

“And that’s kind of why you always got to stick to your routine and just always be prepared because, like they always say, you’re one play away from playing and you’re one play away from not playing.”

Dan Quinn’s Atlanta team (6-2) should like its chances of bouncing back from last week’s three-point loss to Tampa Bay in which the Buccaneers capitalized on the Falcons’ mistakes.

This hardly looks like a rematch of the NFC championship game the 49ers won in January 2013 at Atlanta on the way to the Super Bowl — but rather more of a mismatch.

Bay Area Sports Guy, the Web site that first reported the Niners’ quarterback move late Monday, said the team considered benching Kaepernick last week but wanted Gabbert to debut at home against a “weak” Falcons defense.

Yes, Atlanta saw that.

To which the Falcons posted on Twitter: “oh.”

That might just provide the opposing team the extra motivation it needs. The 49ers might do the rest.

“I have heard it and what I can say is we don’t allow anyone else to help get us ready,” Quinn said.

Atlanta has committed six turnovers and 17 penalties in two games, and Quinn wants to clean things up in a hurry.

Former first-round pick Gabbert will make his first start since Week 5 of the 2013 season with Jacksonville.

Gabbert has lost his past 10 starts since beating Indianapolis on Sept. 23, 2012, and his teams are 5-22 in his career as a starter.

“We all just embraced Blaine,” center Marcus Martin said.

Atlanta lost playing the last game at Candlestick Park in December 2013.

“We’ve changed a lot since that game,” quarterback Matt Ryan said.

Here are some things to watch for Sunday in the Falcons’ first trip to Levi’s Stadium:

REGIME CHANGE: San Francisco’s offense is counting on a spark. Gabbert isn’t necessarily going to provide one, though that is the hope for the NFL’s 32nd-ranked offense.

“From what I’ve seen here, a guy who is very confident in the offense. He can make every throw,” wideout Torrey Smith said. “He’s been doing a good job in practice over the weeks and even the offseason. He’s been working hard. We’ll see what he does with his chance.”

THIN SECONDARY: Falcons safety William Moore (groin) could miss his second straight game and two more starters, cornerbacks Robert Alford (groin) and Desmond Trufant (lower back) also have missed practice time or have been limited by injuries this week. Alford and Trufant left last week’s loss to Tampa Bay with their injuries. Kemal Ishmael started for Moore last week, while rookie Jalen Collins and Phillip Adams filled in at cornerback.

QUINN’S RETURN: Falcons first-year coach Quinn’s first coaching opportunity was with the 49ers from 2001-04. Quinn said the 49ers are “a really classy organization with tons of success” and added he learned from the late Hall of Famer Bill Walsh, Terry Donahue, Steve Mariucci and others.

“With all those unique guys, when I went there I thought I knew some things about football and I got there and I was like no I don’t know anything about football,” he said.

RUNNING BACKS: Carlos Hyde sat out last Sunday’s loss at St. Louis with a stress fracture in his left foot and was listed day to day midweek, while Reggie Bush was lost for the season to a left knee injury that required surgery after he slipped on concrete out of bounds at St. Louis.

San Francisco signed Shaun Draughn and Pierre Thomas early in the week to provide depth to a beat-up group.
Rookie Mike Davis also was hurt. Former Australian Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne was signed to the practice squad after being waived Saturday.

HARDY TIME: Falcons rookie wide receiver Justin Hardy made his debut last week with two catches for 21 yards against Tampa Bay. Hardy could be active again and possibly have a bigger role if Leonard Hankerson is held out with a hamstring injury.

Regional events