NFC Championship Live Blog, First Half
Michael Crabtree almost pulled a bit of a Eugene Robinson days before the NFC Championship Game. Only, instead of solicitation of prostitution, it was some sort of involvement in a sexual assault. As of now, nobody seems to know what exactly happened in the hotel room last week after San Francisco’s win over the Packers, other than that Crabtree is cooperating with the authorities’ investigation that he is still scheduled to play against the Falcons as of this morning.
The Niners promoted receiver Chad Hall to the roster from the practice squad yesterday, leading some to believe that Crabtree may be sidelined for the game. Given that Crabby had more than double the yardage of any other San Francisco receiver in last week’s win, unless the Niners are completely convinced of his guilt (and it doesn’t appear that they are), it’s doubtful they are gonna sideline their best pass catcher.
Most people aren’t giving the Falcons much of a chance to prevail. One of the reasons for that – other than the usual lack of confidence in Matt Ryan – is that they allowed Seattle to erase a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter. While the Falcons did a good job last week against the read-option scheme that has finally gotten traction in the NFL, getting consistent pressure on the quarterback is still an issue for them. John Abraham still won’t be at 100 percent, so it will fall to defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, one of a host of failed 49ers head coaches during their decade-long playoff absence, to come up with a scheme to contain Kaepernick and stifle Frank Gore at the same time.
Ryan might have broken out with his first career postseason win last week, but his performance had a lot of room for improvement. His missing open targets kept the game from getting truly out of hand for Seattle. Ryan also threw a careless deep interception late in the game that let Seattle get a critical score. This was during a game where Tony Gonzalez was playing out of his mind. Without Atlanta’s receivers doing him as many favors, it might take the game of Ryan’s career to come out ahead against the San Francisco defense.