ATLANTA – The 49ers were beaten badly in the first half while four of their players exited the game with injuries.
Wide receiver Quinton Patton sustained a foot injury in the second quarter against the Atlanta Falcons and was immediately ruled out from returning. Jimmie Ward (shoulder), linebacker Nick Bellore (elbow) and tight end Blake Bell (shoulder) also left the game with first-half injuries.
Patton and Bellore were ruled out, while the 49ers announced the returns of Ward and Bell as “questionable.” Bell sustained a right shoulder injury on a 45-yard reception in the second quarter. Ward was taken off the 49ers’ sideline and back to the locker room on a cart.
The Falcons scored touchdowns on four of their first five possessions for a 28-13 lead at halftime.
The only time the 49ers stopped the Falcons came at the goal line when linebacker Michael Wilhoite stripped running back Devonta Freeman of the ball just before he got into the end zone.
With Patton out of the lineup, the 49ers were without their starting outside receivers. Torrey Smith did not make the trip to face the Atlanta Falcons due to a concussion he sustained a week earlier against the New York Jets.
The 49ers’ biggest weakness was at inside linebacker after Bellore was injured on the team’s third defensive play.
Linebacker Gerald Hodges, who started the previous eight games, was deactivated for violating team rules, the 49ers announced before the game. His deactivation left the 49ers with just two inside linebackers in uniform to open the game.
Vinnie Sunseri replaced Bellore for the remainder of the first drive, which ended with Freeman’s 5-yard touchdown run. On the next series, veteran safety Antoine Bethea took over at inside linebacker. Then, it was Ahmad Brooks’ turn.
Travis Scott ultimately agreed to perform at the Super Bowl LIII halftime show on Feb. 3, but he reportedly spoke with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick beforehand.
The two "had at least one phone conversation" before Scott took the gig, Variety's Jem Aswad reported Tuesday. Although "the two did not necessarily agree, they emerged from the conversation with mutual respect and understanding," a source close to Scott told Aswad.
Scott's presence at the show was first reported last month, but not confirmed until he announced he and the NFL would donate $500,000 to Dream Corps, a nonprofit focused on social justice initiatives. That was not before Scott received intense criticism on social media and elsewhere, largely because of the NFL's treatment of Kaepernick.
Kaepernick sat, then kneeled, during the playing of the national anthem before games during the 2016 season to protest racial inequality and social injustice. He has not played in a professional football game since Jan. 1, 2017, and has remained unsigned by a team since officially opting out of his contract with the 49ers on March 3 that year. The 31-year-old ultimately filed a collusion grievance against the league, and his hearing reportedly is scheduled for early this year.
Rihanna reportedly turned down and cited Kaepernick's absence from the league, and Cardi B reportedly did the same. Jay-Z tried to convince Scott not to perform, and Scott himself would not until the NFL agreed to donate to Dream Corps, Aswad reported, citing sources. Neither Scott nor Kaepernick commented on Variety's report.
Move over, Mickey Mouse. DeForest Buckner is headed to Orlando.
The 49ers defensive lineman will play in his first career Pro Bowl on Jan. 27, as the 24-year-old was named as an injury replacement for Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.
Buckner broke out in a big way in his third NFL season. The Oregon product finished 2018 with a career-high 12 sacks, tying for the 14th most in the league. He also had the second-most quarterback pressures at his position, according to Pro Football Focus.
Named an alternate when the NFL announced Pro Bowl rosters in December, Buckner arguably was one of the biggest snubs from the main roster. After Tuesday's news, he won't need to worry about that for much longer.