49ers

NFL odds: 49ers open as 3.5-point underdogs to Saints in Week 14 game

NFL odds: 49ers open as 3.5-point underdogs to Saints in Week 14 game

For the first time since the first two weeks of the NFL season, the 49ers are the underdog in back-to-back weeks according to the oddsmakers in Las Vegas.

San Francisco was +5.5 in Week 13 against the Ravens and covered in a 20-17 hard-fought loss in Baltimore.

With Week 14 looming, the 49ers are opening as 3.5 point underdogs for the showdown with Michael Thomas and the New Orleans Saints, courtesy of SuperBookUSA.

Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers offense won’t have the weather to worry about, as they’ll be visiting the climate-controlled Superdome.

San Francisco mustered just 17 points on Sunday, the second time this season Kyle Shanahan’s offense has been held under 20 points.

The other instance? A 9-0 backyard brawl in Washington, another game that featured non-stop rain and chilly conditions.

[RELATED: Grading 49ers' offense, defense in tough loss vs. Ravens]

The Saints are on a roll, riding a three-game win streak and now stand alongside the 49ers atop the NFC standings.

This game is a must-win for San Francisco, as a Seahawks win over the Vikings on Monday night could knock the 49ers down to the No. 5 spot in the playoff picture.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn defends Kyle Shanahan's Super Bowl play-calling

Falcons coach Dan Quinn defends Kyle Shanahan's Super Bowl play-calling

While a lot of the football world criticized Kyle Shanahan for how things went wrong in the fourth quarter of the Falcons' 34-28 loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl 51, Dan Quinn remembers a lot of the things that went right that day.

“There’s always criticism after the fact, but he made a hell of a lot of good calls, too,” the Falcons coach said Wednesday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters.

Shanahan got out of his contract with the Cleveland Browns after the 2014 season so he could join Quinn’s staff as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator. Shanahan spent two seasons working under Quinn.

Shanahan and Quinn will meet for the first time as head coaches Sunday at Levi’s Stadium when the 49ers play host to the Falcons.

Under Shanahan’s offensive guidance, the Falcons had the league’s highest-scoring team and the No. 2-ranked offense in yards, and quarterback Matt Ryan won the NFL’s MVP with the best season of his career. Shanahan was named NFL Assistant Coach of the Year.

But after leading the New England Patriots, 28-3, in the second half of Super Bowl 51, things fell apart.

Shanahan was roundly criticized for being too aggressive with his play calls, the Falcons’ defense imploded, and the Patriots rallied for the victory in overtime. Critics point to a strip-sack of Ryan in the middle of the fourth quarter with the Falcons leading by 16 points and the failure to run the ball later to chew up more clock.

“If there were one or two (calls) that he’d like to have back, well, that is in any game,” Quinn said. “I’d love to have any game rip and go like you want. But all of it, you learn from. And then you don’t really get to apply it until you’re in that moment again.

“The guy is a hell of a play-caller, and a hell of a football coach. I think he proved that then, and continues to do that today.”

The following day, Feb. 6, 2017, the 49ers officially announced Shanahan as the organization’s 20th head coach.

The 49ers currently rank No. 2 in points (30.5) and fourth in yards (388.6), while the Falcons are 14th in points (23.1) and seventh in yards (376.5).

The 49ers (11-2) are tied with the Baltimore Ravens for the best record in the NFL. The Falcons (4-9) are playing much better, winning three of their past five games.

Quinn said he always has been impressed with Shanahan’s ability to adapt his scheme, going back to when he implemented the read option in Washington with Robert Griffin as his quarterback.

“Here, we ripped it quite a bit with Matt,” Quinn said. “Now, he’s back in terms of the run game and how that’s a factor. I think he’s done it in a number of different ways. I wouldn’t say I don’t think it’s more emptying the playbook one side or the other. But what he’s always had is a really bold and aggressive nature to make plays.”

[RELATED: Why 49ers' McGlinchey can't wait to face Falcons QB Ryan]

Shanahan was particularly creative with his play-calling in the 49ers’ 48-46 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Quinn said it goes back to Shanahan’s preparation and his “concrete way” he builds a game plan.

“I think that’s an example in that game of, ‘OK, we’re going to have to score some points,’ and find some ways to create some momentum, and he was bold enough to do that,” Quinn said. “That really sums up who he is as a play-caller.”

NFL rumors: 49ers re-signing Dontae Johnson with Richard Sherman injured

NFL rumors: 49ers re-signing Dontae Johnson with Richard Sherman injured

The 49ers have re-signed cornerback Dontae Johnson and wide receiver Jordan Matthews, the team announced Wednesday morning.

The 49ers expect to be without starter Richard Sherman for multiple games due to a strained right hamstring. 

Ahkello Witherspoon and Emmanuel Moseley are expected to be the 49ers’ starting cornerbacks as long as Sherman is out of action. Johnson provides depth in the 49ers’ defensive backfield, along with D.J. Reed.

Johnson, 28, was among the 49ers’ final cuts before the start of the regular season. He re-signed with the club on Oct. 3 and was waived on Nov. 11. Adam Caplan of Sirius-XM NFL Radio first reported the re-signing of Johnson.

Johnson (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) has appeared in 71 games in his NFL career with 22 starts. He played his first four NFL seasons with the 49ers from 2014 to ’17 after being selected in the fourth round of the 2014 draft.

[RELATED: 49ers place Goodwin on season-ending injured reserve]

Matthews also was one of the team's final cuts before the regular season. He re-signed with the club on Oct. 3, but was then cut three weeks later. The six-year pro has 3,288 career receiving yards and 22 touchdowns. 

Center Weston Richburg also was placed on season-ending injured reserve. He tore his patellar tendon on Sunday against the Saints.