SF-ATL grades: RB Devonta Freeman leads Falcons to big win

Highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Falcons' Week 15 win over the 49ers.

| 5 months ago
Devonta Freeman

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

SF-ATL grades: RB Devonta Freeman leads Falcons to big win

Atlanta Falcons 41, San Francisco 49ers 13

Here are the top-graded players and biggest storylines from Atlanta’s 41-13 win over San Francisco.

Atlanta Falcons

Quarterback grade: Matt Ryan, 80.1

Efficient game from Matt Ryan helps propel Falcons to relatively easy win

Much like last week, Ryan was not asked to do very much in this game, as the Falcons had success pretty much all across the board. Ryan was incredibly effective on plays where he was not under pressure, completing 16-of-20 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan also excelled on intermediate throws, going 8-of-9 for 165 yards and two touchdowns on throws between 10-19 yards downfield.

Matt Ryan vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

T Jake Matthews, 84.4

RB Devonta Freeman, 84.2

C Alex Mack, 83.4

T Ryan Schraeder, 80.8

G Andy Levitre, 80.4

Offensive line dominates for the Falcons

No matter what the Falcons wanted to do in this game, they were able to execute thanks largely to the play of their offensive line. Ryan was only pressured on four dropbacks (out of 24), and the offensive line as a unit only allowed two quarterback pressures all game. They were also able to open massive holes for RB Devonta Freeman, who ran for 139 yards on 20 carries and forced seven missed tackles. Tevin Coleman also chipped in with 66 yards on 14 carries. Overall, the Falcons’ running backs averaged an impressive 3.8 yards before contact per carry thanks to the play of the Atlanta O-line.

Top defensive grades:

LB Paul Worrilow, 84.0

ED Brooks Reed, 83.7

LB Deion Jones, 83.5

S Keanu Neal, 83.3

S Ricardo Allen, 76.9

Young Atlanta defense stifles San Francisco

Rookies Deion Jones and Keanu Neal stepped up in a big way for the Falcons’ defense, combining for seven defensive stops and only surrendering 33 yards on 11 total targets in pass coverage. Neal, in particular, was impressive in coverage, as opposing quarterback Kaepernick had a rating of 56.3 when throwing in his direction, only giving up an average of 2.9 yards per reception. Edge rusher Brooks Reed has been productive rushing the passer the past four weeks, as he’s totaled seven quarterback hurries in that span. Vic Beasley had a quiet game for his standards; he still registered a sack, but only earned a pass-rushing grade of 69.0, which is pedestrian in comparison to his three-sack performance last week against the Rams.

San Francisco 49ers

Quarterback grade: Colin Kaepernick, 76.8

Kaepernick shows flashes of good play, but lacks consistency

Colin Kaepernick displayed his arm talent at times in the losing effort to the Falcons. It can be in his favor when he’s flushed out of the pocket, as he showed when completing a 45-yard pass to tight end Blake Bell while on the move. Kaepernick graded well on the 14 dropbacks in which he was under pressure, completing five of those 10 passes for 85 yards. Comparatively, he was 15-of-23, averaging under 5 yards per attempt while under no pressure.

Colin Kaepernick vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

G Andrew Tiller, 81.7

T Trenton Brown, 78.6

C Marcus Martin, 70.6

WR Aaron Burbridge, 70.1

TE Je’Ron Hamm, 66.3

49ers’ offense struggles to find rhythm

Guard Andrew Tiller and tackle Trenton Brown were perhaps the only two bright spots for the 49ers’ offense, as they both earned pass-protection grades above 81.0, Tiller also earned the highest run-blocking grade on the team, at 82.2. The passing game never clicked, as Jeremy Kerley was Colin Kaepernick’s most-targeted receiver, with seven; he caught five of those for only 28 yards. Blake Bell led the team in receiving yards, with 45, which all came on one pass. Carlos Hyde found some running lanes throughout the day, as he averaged 5.5 yards on 13 carries, although he did cough up a costly fumble early in the game.

Top defensive grades:

CB Tramaine Brock, 85.6

LB Michael Wilhoite, 72.9

ED Ahmad Brooks, 81.3

ED Cornellius Carradine, 70.0

ED Aaron Lynch, 55.4

Solid play from some 49ers defenders, but not enough to slow Falcons

If there was one bright spot for the 49ers’ defense, it was the play of corner Tramaine Brock. He was targeted seven times and allowed just three catches for 50 yards. He gave up a touchdown, but also had a great pass breakup and was extremely tight in coverage almost every play. Ahmad Brooks had a great game against the run, finishing with a run-defense grade of 81.7, thanks to three solo run stops and a handful of other disruptive plays. Ultimately, though, the 49ers were unable to generate any kind of pass-rush, finishing with just one sack, one hit, and two hurries—and the sack and hit were unblocked.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Keanu Neal, S, Falcons

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

| Analyst

Bryson has been an analyst at Pro Football Focus since 2014, and has also been a contributor to 120 Sports.

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