NFC Championship: Mike Smith Out-Coaching Jim Harbaugh in First Half

By Andrew Fisher
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons are currently locked in a battle for the NFC Championship down in the Georgia Dome. In a game of this magnitude the coaches have to be on their A-game just as much as the players do. So far in this game Mike Smith seems to be on his, but Jim Harbaugh, maybe not so much.

The Falcons struck first on a 46-yard bomb to Julio Jones early in the first quarter. The 49ers were failing to get any pressure on Matt Ryan and he burned them deep on a go-route to Jones. I like the move by Atlanta to come out swinging. They weren’t conservative on the first drive and I think the quick touchdown boosted their confidence for the rest of the game.

The 49ers came out with a conservative pass and run to start the game, and then Colin Kaepernick failed to connect with Vernon Davis which led to a quick three-and-out.

The Falcons continued to throw on their second drive, regularly getting Jones involved. Targeting Jones early is a smart move by the coaches because he’s a player that tends to be streaky. Getting his confidence up early is very important. Jones usually goes big or goes home, so far in this game, he’s been huge. Jones hit the 100-yard receiving mark with four minutes to go in the first quarter.

So far the Falcons have controlled the clock, and therefore they’ve controlled the game. They’ve kept the ball out of the hands of Kaepernick, and the more that happens, the more likely it is they’ll come out with a victory.

The Falcons coaching staff has kept with their game plan of short and mid-range passes, while mixing in a few runs here and there. Then just when the San Francisco defense relaxes, Ryan will take a shot down the field to Roddy White or Jones. The play-calling has been very well balanced and well executed throughout the first half.

I can’t believe that Harbaugh hasn’t utilized Kaepernick at all in the run game. They need to roll him out of the pocket more, and put him in position to make plays with his legs. He’s been solid as a pocket-passer so far, but down 17-7 you have to wonder when the San Francisco coaching staff will start to open things up a bit.

Stay tuned to for more coverage of Championship Sunday

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