8 a.m. ET: The 49ers’ path to the NFC Championship Game has been a quest of redemption. Atlanta’s, on the other hand, has been a desperate battle for recognition.
The Niners were in this exact spot last season, when dreadful third-down efficiency and a pair of fumbled punts by return man Kyle Williams doomed San Francisco in a 20-17 overtime loss to the underdog Giants.
All of the key players from last year’s squad are back for the Niners, with one notable exception. Second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick has taken the league by storm since replacing Alex Smith under center in Week 10, running offensive coodinator Greg Roman’s pistol offense like a well-oiled machine.
Kaepernick’s coming-out party reached its peak last Saturday, when he rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns — an NFL record for quarterbacks — while throwing for another two scores in a 45-31 win over Green Bay in the Divisional Round.
On the other side, Atlanta finished the regular season tied for the league’s bes...