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George Kittle is not like most folks. As much as calling football players “warriors” is a cliche, it’s not hard to imagine Kittle thriving in the trenches of Ancient Greece as a Spartan. He might be the best player in the National Football League, and he showed both his quality and absurd, almost lunatic-like relentlessness in a game-sealing play on Sunday.

On 4th-and-2, with the 49ers not just needing a first down, but about 30 yards to get in Robbie Gould’s field goal range. Not only did Kittle (6 receptions, 67 yards, 1 TD) convert, but he rumbled downfield with the reckless abandon of a human wrecking ball. With his facemask being held, Kittle kept churning. In a moment, the 49ers went from being out of control of their own destiny to a moment from pulling off the defining victory of the NFL season.

Max Duffy has turned the disappointment of being delisted by the Fremantle Dockers into claiming US college football’s top punting prize.

Duffy was named winner of the Ray Guy Award at the National College Football Awards ceremony in Atlanta on Thursday after a sensational season punting for the University of Kentucky.

It continues Australia’s dominance of the punting honour with Duffy the sixth former Aussie rules player to claim the award in the past seven years.

“It’s good to get it back to Australia where it belongs,” Duffy said on stage at the ceremony.

Australia’s winning streak was broken last year when American-born Texas A&M punter Braden Mann won.

Duffy, a 26-year-old from Perth, was up against fellow Australian Dane Roy, who played for Bendigo in the VFL and punts for the University of Houston, and American-born Syracuse University punter Sterling Hofrichter.

After his AFL disappointment, Duffy joined the highly-successful Melbourne-based Prokick Australia punting academy run by Nathan Chapman and John Smith and signed with the University of Kentucky in 2017.

It’s a similar path to a pack of Aussie rules discards.

Former Sydney Swans junior Michael Dickson won the Ray Guy in 2017, was snapped up by the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL Draft and as a rookie sensation last year received All-Pro and Pro Bowl honours.

Perth’s Mitch Wishnowsky won the Ray Guy in 2016 punting for the University of Utah and is now a member of the red-hot San Francisco 49ers.

Melbourne’s Tom Hackett claimed the award in 2014 and 2015 also punting for the University of Utah, and Geelong’s Tom Hornsey won it in 2013 for the University of Memphis.

Duffy, Roy, Dickson, Wishnowsky, Hackett, Hornsey and NFL players Cameron Johnston (Philadelphia Eagles), Jordan Berry (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Lachlan Edwards (New York Jets) all attended Prokick before their US stints.

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There’s a new sheriff in town for the Rockport hockey program, and he is a very familiar face.

Kyle Nelson, a 2015 graduate of Rockport High School, former two-year captain of the team in 2014 and 2015, and a former assistant coach with the program in 2017 and 2018, is looking to bring the program back to prominence.

Nelson played on Rockport’s last state tournament team in 2013, and he brings in two assistant coaches, Brendan and Conor Douglass, who also played in the state tournament multiple times for Rockport.

“We’re trying to get back to what worked when the program was making the tournament almost every year,” Nelson said. “All three of us are Rockport guys and former players who were there in some of the better seasons. We want to bring that culture back to the program.”

Nelson is implementing a new system and so far, he likes the way the team has bought in.

“There’s a lot of teaching going on right now,” he said. “We’re really slowing it down and trying to get them to play a new style. It’s been going well so far. We have a big senior class and they’ve bought in.”

The Vikings, who are a co-op program with Rockport, Manchester Essex and Ipswich, are led by three captains, one from each school.

Rockport HS senior Billy Garlick returns at forward as does Manchester Essex senior Anthony Curcuru, both have at least two previous seasons of varsity experience. Ipswich junior captain Rowan Silva, the team’s leading scorer a season ago, returns to the team’s top line.

The Vikings have several other key players returning to the lineup outside of its three captains.

Junior Kyle Khani leads Rockport’s stable of defenseman, a puck mover who also plays well in his own end. He will be joined by Gus Johnson and Aidan Arnold on the blue line.

Junior Frew Rowen is back in the lineup and is one of the team’s best skaters along with fellow forward, senior John Andrew.

Rockport also has two important additions to the team in senior forward Andrew Guelli and senior goalie Cal Twombly. Both played their freshman and sophomore seasons but switched to basketball as juniors. Guelli was one of Rockport’s leading scorers two years ago while Twombly looked strong in net while backing up Max Kivekas. Twombly and senior Walker Knowles are competing for Rockport’s starting job.

“So far the mix of players has looked solid,” Nelson said. “We’ve been moving our feet well and we have speed. It’s all about staying positive. That’s the key to this season. Everything is new for them, which can be frustrating at times, but if they stay positive, work with their linemates and keep building chemistry, I think they can be competitive with everyone.”

The Vikings, who finished 4-11-4 a season ago, set up shop in the Commonwealth Athletic Conference, which has turned into a deep conference over the years.

Shawsheen is usually the frontrunner and looks to be that way again this season, but Essex Tech, which is in its third season in the CAC, also looks to be strong. Northeast, Nashoba Tech and Minuteman round out the CAC.

“The conference is pretty tough but I honestly think we can compete with anyone,” Nelson said. “We just need to get more comfortable with every practice and put it together on game day.”

Rockport hockey at a glance

Last Year’s Record: 4-11-4

Head coach: Kyle Nelson (1st season)

Captains: Anthony Curcuru, Sr., F; Billy Garlick, Sr., F; Rowan Silva, Sr., F.

Key Returning Players: John Andrew, Sr., F; Gus Johnson, Jr., Def.; Kyle Kahni, Jr., Def.; Frew Rowen, Jr., F; Aidan Arnold, Soph., Def.

Strengths: The Vikings have a lot of team speed and they are experienced.

Concerns: The team is settling into a new system with a new head coach.

Coach’s Outlook: “Our goal is obviously to make the tournament, finish .500 or better. It’s cliche but to do that everyone has to do their job. We are putting in a new system and so far the team is buying in.”

Season Opener: Saturday at Northeast (7:50 p.m.)

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Gould went 2-for-2 on field-goal attempts (30, 41) and 6-for-6 on point-after tries in Sundays 48-46 win over the Saints.

Gould put the bow on an incredible comeback victory for San Francisco with a clutch field goal as time expired in New Orleans. This was surprisingly the first clean multi-attempt game for the veteran this season. The 36-year-old is coming off of three consecutive seasons of 95 percent or higher field-goal accuracy, but he sits at just 67 percent (16-for-24) over 10 games. Gould’s drop-off may be related to injury, bad luck (two blocked kicks) or simply diminished skills in his 15th season as a pro. Despite his early-season struggles, the veteran leg remains a safe fantasy option Sunday against Atlanta while kicking for a powerful offense.

Gould (quadriceps) went 1-for-2 on field-goal attempts and 2-for-2 on point-after tries in Sunday’s 20-17 loss to the Ravens.

Gould returned from a three-week injury layoff and did not appear to be hampered by his quadriceps. The veteran’s lone miss came from 51 yards — he is now 0-for-4 on kicks over 50 yards — but the kick had enough leg and only went wide due to being slightly deflected by Marlon Humphrey’s finger. Gould should be considered a safe play in a dome against the Saints on Sunday.

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The 49ers have run through the gauntlet over the last five weeks, and come out the other side.

San Francisco opened a brutal five-game stretch with an overtime loss to the Seahawks, but then proceeded to reel off wins over the Cardinals, Packers and Saints, with a loss to the Ravens sandwiched in between. That three-game stretch against the Packers, Ravens and Saints was the most difficult stretch any team has faced this late in the season in the modern NFL era, and yet the Niners returned emerged at 11-2 and primed for a deep playoff run.

Now that the 49ers have faced their toughest foes, and the postseason is in their sights, it’s fair to wonder which team or teams the 49ers believe are the best they have faced this season.

For wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, the answer is easy.

“Definitely either the Saints or Baltimore, for sure,” Sanders told “The Dan Patrick Show.” “Those two teams are really good, and I hope we’ll play both of those two teams again.”

The Ravens and likely MVP Lamar Jackson sit at 12-2 after a Thursday night beatdown of the Jets. The 49ers and Ravens dueled in the rain two weeks ago, a game the Ravens eked out on a last-second Justin Tucker field goal. The Saints hung 46 points on the vaunted 49ers defense and would have collected the W had George Kittle not broke off the most important play of San Francisco’s season to set up Robbie Gould’s game-winning field goal in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

[RELATED: 49ers saw 'layup' coming on Saints' two-point try]

But what about the team that handed the 49ers their first loss, the Seahawks? Russell Wilson and Co. momentarily leapfrogged the 49ers for first place in the NFC West in Week 13 but gave the spot right back after laying an egg against the Rams last Sunday.

The race for the NFC West and a first-round bye likely will come down to Week 17 when the 49ers travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks to close out the season. The winner will get a week of rest and ticket to the Divisional Round, while the loser likely will be headed to either Dallas or Philadelphia for a Wild Card Round bout against the Eagles or Cowboys.

There’s a good chance the 49ers could see the Saints again in the NFC playoffs. If San Francisco navigates the final three weeks successfully that game would take place in Levi’s Stadium and not the raucously loud Superdome. A return trip to New Orleans is something the Niners would love to avoid.

As for a second meeting with Jackson. Well, Miami sounds lovely in February.

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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo drops back to pass against the Kansas City Chiefs.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo drops back to pass against the Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire)

The San Francisco 49ers (11-2) were not one of the preseason favorites in the Super Bowl futures market, but their consistently brilliant play has elevated them to second choice, behind only the Baltimore Ravens. The Niners’ Super Bowl odds went from +750 Friday to +450 as of Tuesday morning. We’ll dig into San Francisco’s résumé below to determine if the 49ers are worth a wager.

Odds to win the Super Bowl
TEAM SUPER BOWL ODDS
Baltimore Ravens +230
San Francisco 49ers +450
New England Patriots +485
New Orleans Saints +600
Kansas City Chiefs +650
Kyle Shanahan’s crew survived the most brutal part of its regular-season schedule, with a loss on a last-second field goal in Baltimore before returning the favor against the Saints in a 48-46 barnburner Sunday. The 49ers’ only other loss was a 27-24 overtime defeat against the Seahawks in Week 10.

49ers win a wild shootout over the Saints in the Superdome 48-46
Robbie Gould : 2/2 FG’s (Game-winning 30-yard FG as time expired) pic.twitter.com/NMpUOtz3O8

— Lee Harvey (@AyeThatsLee) December 8, 2019

Clinching the NFC West won’t be easy
San Francisco will host the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Rams, before a trip to Seattle in a quest for vengeance against the Seahawks. Even if the 49ers win both home games, they will probably need to defeat Russell Wilson and company in Week 17 to clinch the NFC West, as the Seahawks will face the Panthers and Cardinals before that final regular-season tilt. It’s anything but a given that San Francisco will run the table, and having to play a wild-card game could severely damage its chances of making it to the Super Bowl.

The Niners are banged up
The Niners could desperately use a week off, but their bye occurred all the way back in Week 4. They’ve had some bad luck in the injury department, with center Weston Richburg’s season-ending torn patellar tendon injury just the latest blow to their squad. Cornerback Richard Sherman and defensive end Dee Ford could both miss multiple games with hamstring injuries after they left Sunday’s game in New Orleans early, per USA Today.

Rundown of #49ers injuries:

*DE Dee Ford: Expected to miss at least 3 weeks w/ hamstring injury.

*CB Richard Sherman: Expected to miss couple of weeks w/ hamstring strain.

*C Weston Richburg: Out for season w/ torn patella tendon

*CB K’Waun Williams: In concussion protocol

— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) December 9, 2019

Considering that the strength of this team is its defense, which delivered by far its worst effort of the season against the Saints in Week 14, those two injuries are highly concerning. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is just 12th in passing yards this year, so this club cannot count on him being able to win a shootout on a regular basis.

Don’t sleep on the Saints
The 49ers are not offering any value in this market. Bettors may want to roll with the Saints instead, despite their recent loss. New Orleans’ defense occasionally misfires, but the Drew Brees-Michael Thomas connection has been dangerous against all challengers this year.

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San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is expected to be a hot head-coaching candidate this offseason which could be bad news for the 49ers.
The San Francisco 49ers have seen their defense completely transformed this season under defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. And as a result, Saleh will likely be at the forefront of head coach rumors this offseason.

Saleh has risen to stardom this season on the heels of his eccentric pre-game rituals and bombastic in-game energy. It also certainly hasn’t hurt matters that his defense is currently among the NFL’s most elite.

Some may even say the 49ers have the best defense in the NFL today — an idea that is difficult to dispute.

Either way, Saleh’s rise to fame has seemingly come overnight and in the unlikeliest of ways. Entering the 2019 season, the 40-year-old defensive coordinator was arguably the most scrutinized member of the 49ers coaching staff.

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The 49ers originally hired him back in 2017 under first-year head coach Kyle Shanahan but failed to find much success in his first two seasons in San Francisco. In fact, his defenses’ performances were so underwhelming that many believed that he was coaching for his job this season.

Saleh’s defense in 2017 ranked 26th in the NFL in terms of total DVOA, per Football Outsiders — a numerical value given to each positional unit. It was understandable though given that the defense he had inherited was devoid of much talent.

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Things improved slightly in 2018 with his defense climbing to 23rd in the NFL but it was clear that there was still work to be done. But there was reason to be optimistic about the defense going into 2019.

However, nobody could have predicted the meteoric leap the 49ers defense would take this season.

Through 12 games, the 49ers defense ranks third in total DVOA and first in the NFL in total defense. The 49ers have the No. 1 pass defense by a considerable margin and only the Carolina Panthers have amassed more sacks on the year.

It’s been an incredible turnaround for Saleh’s defense helped by the acquisition of some key players in the offseason. Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and Kwon Alexander have all helped transform the 49ers defense but much of the credit must go to the returning talent.

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The San Francisco 49ers are preparing for their Week 15 contest against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Cornerback Richard Sherman (hamstring) and safety Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) did not practice. Head coach Kyle Shanahan already said this week that neither will play on Sunday. Sherman, however, expects to play next week against the Los Angeles Rams.

Cornerback K’Waun Williams is in the concussion protocol this week and was believed to have a chance of playing against the Falcons. Friday was his third straight day of missed practice.

Defensive end Dee Ford is expected to miss four weeks with a hamstring injury, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. He, obviously, did not practice.

Sherman, Tartt, Wiliams, Ford, and defensive lineman Jullian Taylor were all ruled out for Sunday.
Below are the official injury reports for the 49ers and Falcons, which were provided by the 49ers Communications staff. Also included is Friday’s practice participation report.

San Francisco 49ers

Out
DE Dee Ford (quadricep, hamstring), DT D.J. Jones (ankle), CB Richard Sherman (hamstring), S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs), DT Jullian Taylor (elbow), CB K’Waun Williams (concussion)

Atlanta Falcons

Out
DE Allen Bailey (not injury related), G James Carpenter (concussion), T Ty Sambrailo (hamstring)

Questionable
CB Isaiah Oliver (shoulder)

San Francisco 49ers Friday Practice

Did Not Participate In Practice
DE Dee Ford (quadricep, hamstring), DT D.J. Jones (ankle), CB Richard Sherman (hamstring), S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs), DT Jullian Taylor (elbow), CB K’Waun Williams (concussion)

Full Participation in Practice
WR Dante Pettis (knee)

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San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman isn’t all that concerned about the hamstring injury that’s expected to keep him sidelined for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.

“I could play in this game if we had to have it,” Sherman said Thursday. “(Coach Kyle Shanahan) and them are more cautious than I am.”

Sherman said he asked the coaching staff for a couple days off so he could deal with a Grade 2 hamstring strain sustained in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win over the New Orleans Saints.

NFL Network reported this week Sherman could miss multiple games, though Sherman said he expects to return the following week Dec. 21 against the Rams after looking spry during his on-field workout Thursday.

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“I feel great today, I ran 19 miles an hour, 20 miles an hour today (at practice),” he said.

Sherman pointed out he dealt with a similar injury last season Week 2 against the Lions that he played through in Kansas City, though he exited that game at halftime after it quickly became a blowout.

It’s unclear how the 49ers would replace Sherman on Sunday because of injuries elsewhere. They could be without 60 percent of their secondary against Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ third-ranked passing offense.

Standout slot cornerback K’Waun Williams has missed the first two practices of the week while going through the concussion protocol after leaving Sunday’s game in the fourth quarter.

Which means Emmanuel Moseley, who replaced Ahkello Witherspoon at outside cornerback earlier this season, could be moved to the slot, allowing second-year pro D.J. Reed to play outside. Though Reed could also play in the slot. He started two games there late last season.

“We’re working through that one. That’ll present itself on Sunday,” defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said.

Sherman and Williams have been invaluable to San Francisco’s No. 2-ranked pass defense. And they might not be the only members of the secondary absent against Atlanta. Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt worked out Thursday but was moving far more gingerly than Sherman as he deals with a fracture to his ribs.

Marcell Harris would get his second straight start if Tartt can’t go. Harris struggled Sunday to contain Saints tight ends as they scored their first three touchdowns. Harris was also tabbed with a team-high four missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.

Additionally, defensive end Dee Ford (hamstring) missed practice again Thursday as it’s likely his absence spans multiple games.

Despite the spate of injuries, Sherman is confident the 49ers have the depth to maintain the defense’s high level while key players heal.

“If we got 11 out there, I would expect us to uphold that standard. I think we have a tremendous amount of depth. I trust the guys,” Sherman said. “So no, I don’t think this small bit of attrition will be the determining factor. I think we still have a standard that every guy needs uphold and those guys will do it.”

INJURIES PILING UP FOR STRETCH RUN
San Francisco entered the game in New Orleans relatively healthy, getting Sherman back from a knee sprain, Ford from a hamstring injury and left tackle Joe Staley after finger surgery.

But things are going in the other direction following Sunday’s physical affair.

The team already placed three players on injured reserve this week — center Weston Richburg (torn patellar tendon), wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (toe, knee) and tight end Garrett Celek (back).

A fourth could be coming: defensive tackle D.J. Jones, who sprained both ankles in the past two weeks. The most recent is the most serious.

Shanahan on KNBR radio Thursday said it’s a high ankle sprain for the talented nose tackle and that secondary opinions indicate he would have to be shut down for the year.

It would be a significant loss as he’s the team only true nose tackle on the active roster. His production has gone under the radar as Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa and DeForest Buckner have received acclaim for their strong seasons.

The 49ers would likely turn to Sheldon Day at nose tackle to avoid offsetting other positions, though the team has indicated Armstead, Buckner and Solomon Thomas could also play nose tackle. One of Jones’ top backups, Jullian Taylor, appears unlikely to play with an elbow injury.

The team may also activate Kentavius Street, who would be getting the first action of his career after missing his rookie campaign recovering from a pre-draft ACL tear before he was picked in the fourth round. Street had surgery in August after complications arose from his recovery and began the season injured reserve, though his practice window was opened earlier this month.

Saleh had high praise for Street, who’s one of the team’s most impressive players in the weight room, after watching him during practice in recent weeks.

“His drill work when he’s out there in individual (drills), he’s probably the most impressive D-Lineman of the group, he really is. He is very powerful, all of it translates,” said Saleh.

▪ 49ers who didn’t practice Thursday: Celek, Ford (quadricep, hamstring), Jones (ankle), Sherman (hamstring), Tartt (ribs), Taylor (elbow) and Williams (concussion).

Receiver Dante Pettis (knee) was a full participant for the second straight day.

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The 49ers will be without 60 percent of their secondary against the Atlanta Falcons.

That’s because cornerback Richard Sherman (hamstring), slot defender K’Waun Williams (concussion) and strong safety Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) have been ruled out for Sunday’s contest at Levi’s Stadium.

Which means a trio of second-year players, Emmanuel Moseley, D.J. Reed and Marcell Harris, could be in the lineup against Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and league’s third-ranked passing offense.

Additionally, San Francisco won’t have defensive end Dee Ford as he’s expected to miss multiple games with a hamstring injury he aggravated against the New Orleans Saints.

Nose tackle D.J. Jones is expected to be placed on injured reserve over the weekend with a high ankle sprain, Kyle Shanahan confirmed.

Jones went into last week’s game dealing with a high-ankle sprain from the previous game in Baltimore. Then he wound up suffering a high-ankle sprain to his other leg in New Orleans. He managed to play 33 percent of the snaps, which gave the team optimism the injury wouldn’t be long term.

But testing on the ankle after the team returned to the Bay Area indicated otherwise. Shanahan said it would be an eight-week injury. It was a similar injury to one suffered by general manager John Lynch during his playing career, Shanahan said.

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“He finished the game on (the injury) and would probably be alright. And the next day he got up and he couldn’t walk,” he said. “So sometimes the adrenaline just goes to where he can go through it. But (Jones) definitely can’t play with it.”

Jones will be the fourth player put on IR this week joining center Weston Richburg (torn right patellar tendon), receiver Marquise Goodwin (toe, knee) and tight end Garrett Celek (back).

Jones will be replaced on the active roster by second-year pro Kentavius Street, who would be making his NFL debuting after missing all of 2018 due to a pre-draft ACL tear. Complications from the injury after participating in training camp landed Street on injured reserve to begin the season. The defensive lineman has been practicing for three weeks.

“It’s been real good. I know how hard he’s worked to get out there,” Shanahan said. “I think each week, he’s gotten more of his legs under him. He’s been ready to go. But to get into football practice and everything, holding his gaps and stuff, looked in shape, healthy from the beginning. Now getting these weeks of practice, he’ll definitely try to give it a go this week and he’s getting his opportunity.”

On Ford, the NFL Networked reported the team was expecting a four-week absence and a likely return for the divisional round of the playoffs, should San Francisco make it that far. Ford on Friday refuted that timeline.

“Four weeks? We are day by day right now,” Ford said. “Just trying to get better. Just don’t want it to be a recurring thing.”

“It all depends on the progression. We’re really going to listen to it, we’re really going to pay attention to how it’s healing. Football is just a tough for a hamstring especially with it being isolated in all these weird positions.”

The 49ers are likely going to go with a committee to replace Ford and Jones going forward.

Sheldon Day is likely to replace Jones, while Solomon Thomas could get more work at defensive tackle in passing situations. Thomas should also see his snaps on the outside increase with Ford out. Another option to replace Jones, Jullian Taylor, was ruled out for the second straight game with an elbow injury.

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The San Francisco 49ers enter the final stretch of the 2019 season that kicks off with a Week 15 match against the 4-9 Atlanta Falcons. What makes this game all the more important for San Francisco is the opportunity to clinch a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Taking into account what’s all at stake in the final three weeks of the season, Fox Sports analyst and former Dallas Cowboys fullback Daryl Johnston previews San Francisco’s contest against Atlanta and the keys to coming out on top on Sunday.

No one might have expected Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints to have been a slugfest between two of the top teams in the NFC. Coming off of that triumphant win in the Superdome, what was your biggest takeaway from the game, and did this teach you anything new heading into the tail end of the season?

Johnston: They became a complete team. I think people have been waiting for Jimmy Garoppolo to have that type of game in a big moment. I think he has proven earlier in the season that he’s quite capable of lifting the team up and grinding out a victory using the passing game against lesser opponents. But to do that, in New Orleans against Drew Brees, against a very good defense, I think is something that demonstrates to everybody else in the NFL that, yeah we have to respect that San Francisco run game, that’s how everything starts, but San Francisco just sent a message to everybody else. We can throw the ball really well too against a good defense on the road in a very tough environment so I think that’s the biggest thing and now as a young quarterback growing up and moving through your career in the NFL, you want to be able to have all these experiences and be able to check some boxes and I think Garoppolo had the opportunity to check a pretty big box on Sunday. That gets a lot of confidence for his teammates, as they move forward.

Coming out of that gauntlet of playoff-caliber matchups against the Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens and Saints, is there a specific 49ers player that has taken you by surprise over the last few weeks?

Johnston: Raheem Mostert. I think we heard a lot about Matt Breida. They talked about the “hot hand” philosophy that Kyle Shanahan will go with in the running game. As he cycles through, once somebody starts to really find their flow that game and understands what the matchup in the run game is and starts to see it maybe a little bit better. But you lean on that guy a little bit so I think Raheem has done a really nice job with his opportunity with Breida out of the lineup. And I think we’re seeing that with a lot of the young guys this season with the 49ers. To me the biggest thing they’ve done is the way they’ve weathered the injury storm. They’ve had injuries at key positions I don’t know how many teams in the NFL could lose both of their starting tackles and then continue to win football games and that’s exactly what the 49ers have done earlier this season. To lose Kyle Juszczyk, to lose George Kittle. They lost key players on the offensive side of the ball and now the defensive side of the ball is getting beat up they lose their center, and they just never lose track of what they’re doing. It’s a next man up philosophy. It’s who’s our opponent and let’s focus on, the things that are within our control. So I think the leadership from the top has been outstanding for them.