Here is the opening to my Monday column about the 49ers-Atlanta Falcons matchup:

This was not the game we wanted. I’m being presumptuous speaking for you. I didn’t want the 49ers to play Atlanta in the NFC Conference championship game. I wanted Seattle. I’m assuming you did, too.

That story line would have been an instant classic — two monsters of the NFC West facing each other the third time. Kind of like Ali vs. Frazier, Seattle and San Francisco, maybe the two best teams in the NFC, duking it out in Candlestick, and we’d have Jim Harbaugh vs. Pete Carroll and their personal rivalry and animosity and what’s your deal.

But we didn’t get that game. Life has a way of lousing up great story lines. Life also has a way of presenting new story lines.

To read the full column, click here. 

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  1. Mark M

    Wouldn’t this be the first time the Niners have won 3 in a row? No bye week this week for Harbaugh’s schemes. I like the match-ups, but wonder if we’ll have one those strange no-show games that plagued us all year. I believe we’re the better team but the margins assume we show up in a dome and play well….again.

    January 13th, 2013 11:48 pm

  2. Nancy R

    Let’s punish the pee wees and get this dumb game over with. I’m still grieving over the Seahawks’ loss. What a heartbreak! I wanted that match so BAD!!!!! It would have been the GAME OF THE YEAR!!! Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

    January 14th, 2013 6:24 am

  3. Tiburon Dave

    Nolan’s Revenge!!!

    Do you think he’ll petition to wear a coat and tie in the booth?

    Dom Capers’ lack of preparation and adjustments was astounding…how do you allow a QB to rush for 188 yards?

    Nolan will be much better prepared…the dome will be deafening…the track will be fast…can the smallish Dline stop Gore? Can the Falcons effectively spy Colin? Who covers Gonzales?

    I expect this to be a better game than you think…

    January 14th, 2013 10:59 am

  4. B-Rad

    “(Mike Nolan)……. is a dynamite defensive coordinator, one of the
    best in the business.”

    I think he’s a good DC, but I wouldn’t jump all the way to dynamite.

    In 2011, Atlanta had the 12th rated defense. (11th/rush; 20th/pass)
    Nolan arrived:
    In 2012, Atlanta had the 24th rated defense. (21st/rush; 23rd/pass)

    Hardly a banner year.

    He did a good job yesterday against Marshawn Lynch (16/46yds)
    But Russell Wilson? 24 of 36 for 385 yds and 7 rushes for 60yds
    (TE Zach Miller – 8 catches for 142 yards.)

    And CK is a bit faster than Wilson (4.43 vs 4.48)

    Kaps biggest problem won’t be Nolan but the noise. Have the coaches
    and Kap learned from his experiences in the Superdome and Seattle?
    Might this be Vernon’s big day?

    January 14th, 2013 11:22 am

  5. Joe H.

    Fundamentally, the 49ers vs Falcons pits the two best teams in the NFC against each other.

    They were seeded #1 and #2, they both dispatched quality opponents and neither faced each other during the regular season. This is quality football.

    On the other side we have the Ravens and Patriots, the same two in last year’s AFC Championship game. These are the two best teams representing the AFC. Neither Denver, nor Houston are as good as these teams and this is quality football.

    As for Nolan… He was outside his pay grade when he was coaching the 49ers and has a much more secure position where he can be successful.

    There is little I saw in the Atlanta Falcons victory yesterday that will put fear into the 49ers. I just hope they don’t get complacent. The biggest worry is the Dome’s noise.

    PS: Kap needs to learn to throw a more arcing (less-flat) pass to end zone receivers. They need to leap up to get it, not catch it on their numbers. Flat passes are easier to intercept.

    January 14th, 2013 11:25 am

  6. Bob In Portland

    Good analysis, Lowell. Hope you’re right.

    January 14th, 2013 11:31 am

  7. Stan

    I saw Washington’s world renowned doctor say that RG3 “Will not have a career as a running QB,But will as a traditional QB”. Wow,that pretty much damns Shanahan. RG3 as a running weapon ended in his rookie year. They way the doc went on, I got the feeling RG3 wont have the knee even near normal ever again.

    January 14th, 2013 11:41 am

  8. Gopal

    I prefer to see a matchup that hasn’t already happened four times in the past two seasons.

    January 14th, 2013 12:28 pm

  9. Jumbo Shrimp


    From the rest if your article I thought you would write “26.”

    January 14th, 2013 12:33 pm

  10. Raffaele

    Seahawks or Falcons? It’s a hard choice for a fan.

    Sure, it would be fun to have the Seahawks visit the Niners, and settle the grudge match for many (players and coaches in particular).

    But as a fan I prefer playing the Falcons. I think the Niners have a better shot at beaten them than they do the Seahawks.

    The downside: It will be a serious challenge for Superman in Atlanta. Playing before a large, hostile, and noisy crowd just isn’t the same as the love local fans gave Kaepernick last Saturday.

    So for Superman, playing Seahawks at home is far better than Falcons on the road. We will see if he is up to the greater challenge. Send him lots of white light, to surround him with protective energy (he’ll need it).

    January 14th, 2013 2:20 pm

  11. chris

    sounds like a good game plan you laid out for Nolan to follow. Which means Kap will have to pass more than run in this game, and Gore will have to run the ball. I’m not sold on Kaps passing ability just yet even though him and Crabtree have a good thing going right now. But that seems to be it for the Niner passing game so if Kap cant run and doesn’t get others involved in the passing game Atlanta could have a chance…….even if Atlanta does all that on defense, the Niners D will most likely make some big plays and score as well so I still see a blowout by at least14 points.

    January 14th, 2013 3:00 pm

  12. Dennis

    For everyone who wanted to see Seattle here this weekend, I think we will be seeing plenty of them in the coming years and they look pretty good.

    As for Atlanta, boy they sure have been lucky this season. How many games have they won coming from behind this year? As the saying goes – it’s better to be lucky than good. The 49ers should win but so should have all those other teams that were ahead with time running out this year. I wouldn’t count your money just yet.

    Side note to Stan regarding RG3. Did you catch Adrian Peterson this season. He looked like he was running pretty good. These operations are improving every year.

    January 14th, 2013 4:24 pm

  13. Stan

    You might be right. But the “world renowned surgeon”…didn’t sound a bit positive Dennis. He didn’t say RG3 would be like new or anything like that.Or,with time..etc,etc. He said,”Only as a conventional QB”. I thought it was pretty rare to have a doctor qualify how a pro QB should be used.
    Makes you think what he avoided saying.

    January 14th, 2013 7:55 pm

  14. Stan

    A tale of two coaches we have seen up close. IF Mike Nolan had drafted Rogers. IF Mike Nolan (as he has said in print) had went with Shaun Hill instead of JT OSullivan, how would STILL be the 49ers head coach. And I think he was right.
    Harbaugh hasn’t made a mistake on a QB since…never.

    And I was watching Jed yesterday. Two thoughts..the hair implants look great. AND luckiest kid in the world. Low balled Harbaugh and still beat out Miami AND more money offer..

    Jim’s wife must be a good woman..not even unlimited money and white sandy beaches was enough to influence the decision. Although,she’s probably not cutting coupons..but you get my point.

    January 16th, 2013 9:02 am

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