49ers lead Falcons 20-10 early in 4th quarter
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)
Colin Kaepernick threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin and ran for a score to help the San Francisco 49ers take a 20-10 lead over the Atlanta Falcons early in the fourth quarter on Monday night in the final regular-season game at Candlestick Park.
The Falcons led 10-3 at halftime before Kaepernick and the 49ers offense woke up with two scoring drives in the third quarter in a game crucial to San Francisco's playoff hopes.
San Francisco still needs help to win the division and secure at least one home playoff game. The Niners need to win their final two games and have Seattle lose at home next week to St. Louis to win the division. San Francisco would miss the playoffs if it loses to Atlanta and at Arizona next week.
After a lackluster first half, the 49ers did their best to make sure that wouldn't happen. Helped by a third-down offside penalty on Osi Umenyiora on the opening drive of the third quarter, Kaepernick moved the Niners down the field with passes of 47 yards and 19 yards to Michael Crabtree.
Kaepernick capped the drive with a short pass to Boldin, who ran 10 yards for the tying score. Boldin went over the 1,000-tard receiving mark for the first time since 2009 earlier in the game.
After stopping Atlanta on the next drive, the 49ers took the lead with help from another penalty. Paul Worrilow was called for pass interference against Boldin on third-and-19, helping set up a 30-yard field goal by Phil Dawson, who has made a franchise-record 26 straight attempts.
Kaepernick was 7 for 9 for 128 yards in the third quarter, with Crabtree catching four of the passes for 99 yards. Kaepernick then added a 4-yard TD run at the beginning of the final period.
It was a celebratory night with a star presence, with Hall of Famers Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Willie Mays and Willie McCovey all in attendance at the stadium that used to be the home of the San Francisco Giants. Even the end zones were painted red - something usually reserved for playoff games.
The Niners will move into $1.2 billion Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara while Candlestick waits out its implosion day, likely in late 2014.
It was the 358th game played at Candlestick by the 49ers since moving here in 1971, including the playoffs. No opponent has lost more times here than the Falcons, who are 10-23 heading into Monday night.
Atlanta tried its best to avoid adding to that loss total. After being forced to punt on their first two possessions, the Falcons broke through the third time they had the ball thanks to a long pass play by Matt Ryan and a pair of personal fouls on Donte Whitner.
Ryan hit Drew Davis in stride on a slant pass and Davis eluded safety Eric Reid and sprinted for a 59-yard gain to the San Francisco 5. Whitner then was called for a hit to the head of a defenseless receiver on an incomplete pass to Jackson and got another personal foul for arguing the call.
Jackson ran it in on the next play to give the Falcons a 7-3 lead and Atlanta's defense held the rest of the half to preserve the lead.
Bryant added his field goal with 5 seconds left in the half after Carlos Rogers dropped a potential interception.
San Francisco scored on its first possession to take the lead. Kaepernick completed a pair of passes to Boldin and scrambled for 8 yards before getting sacked on third-and-2 from the 29.
Dawson came in and kicked a 49-yard field goal to give the Niners a 3-0 lead.
The Falcons lost defensive tackle Corey Peters to an Achilles injury in the first half. He will not return.
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