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PLAYOFFS
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       === 49ers rally past Falcons, reach first Super Bowl since '94 ===
 
 Atlanta,  GA (Sports Network) - The San Francisco 49ers are headed back to the
 Super Bowl for the first time since the 1994 season.
 
 Frank  Gore scored  a pair  of touchdowns  in the  second half  and the  49ers
 rallied past the Atlanta Falcons, 28-24, in the NFC Championship Game.
 
 San  Francisco  needed a  big  defensive  stand  after Gore's  9-yard  rushing
 touchdown put the 49ers ahead by four with 8:23 to play.
 
 And  that's just  what they got. San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh was steaming
 on  the  sideline after  the officials upheld  Harry Douglas' 22-yard juggling
 catch,  which put the ball at the 49ers' 28. Atlanta moved the ball to the 10-
 yard  line  and the  game came down  to two plays.  On 3rd-and-4, Ahmad Brooks
 broke  up  Matt Ryan's  pass and NaVorro  Bowman gave the  49ers the ball back
 after knocking down Ryan's throw to Roddy White on fourth down.
 
 After  the 49ers  went three-and-out, Atlanta got  the ball back at its own 41
 with six seconds to play. Julio Jones caught a 24-yard pass as time expired.
 
 "We  rose  up at the end.  That was a  great finish for our defense," Harbaugh
 said. "It put an exclamation point on the game."
 
 The  victory  was sweet redemption for  San Francisco, which lost to the Super
 Bowl champion New York Giants in the NFC title game last year.
 
 John  Harbaugh's  Ravens beat the  Patriots later Sunday  to set up a Harbaugh
 brothers  Super Bowl. Super  Bowl XLVII will take place in New Orleans on Feb.
 3.
 
 San  Francisco,  which is a perfect  5-0 in the  Super Bowl, will be trying to
 join Pittsburgh as the only teams with six Super Bowl titles.
 
 Colin  Kaepernick completed  16-of-21 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown for
 the  49ers, who  took down the Green  Bay Packers in the divisional round last
 weekend.  The  second-year signal-caller, who set  an NFL rushing record for a
 quarterback  with 181  yards last  week, was  limited to  21 rushing  yards on
 Sunday.
 
 "He just played great. He played great," Jim Harbaugh said. "I don't even know
 the words  to say  it. I mean, it  was a great performance by the quarterback.
 And many  others. Everybody chipped in this one, played their hearts out and
 thank you to them."
 
 Gore  carried the ball  21 times for 90 yards for the second-seeded 49ers, who
 trailed  by 17 early in the second quarter. Vernon Davis hauled in five passes
 for 106 yards and a touchdown.
 
 Ryan  connected on  30-of-42 passes  for 396  yards, three  touchdowns and  an
 interception  for  the top-seeded Falcons,  who beat the Seattle Seahawks last
 week to make the NFC Championship Game for the third time in franchise history
 (1998 and 2004).
 
 Jones  caught  11 passes for  182 yards and two  scores, White hauled in seven
 passes  for 100 yards and Tony Gonzalez caught eight passes for 78 yards and a
 touchdown.
 
 "We  just  didn't make enough  plays to win  the ballgame," Falcons coach Mike
 Smith  said. "We played hard and we had our chances for this to be a different
 outcome. We just came up short."
 
 The  Falcons scored a touchdown with 25 seconds left in the first half to take
 a 24-14 lead into the locker room.
 
 However,  the  momentum shifted  back to  the 49ers early  in the second half.
 Randy  Moss  caught passes of 21  and 17 yards around Delanie Walker's 20-yard
 catch. On 1st-and-goal from the five, Gore rumbled into the end zone.
 
 San Francisco's defense followed with a big play, as Chris Culliver picked off
 Ryan  at  the 38-yard line  of the  49ers. Davis caught  a 31-yard pass on the
 first  play. The  49ers got to the 20  before sending David Akers out to try a
 38-yard field goal. Akers' attempt hit off the left upright and was no good.
 
 Another  big mistake  by Ryan gave the 49ers another chance. On 2nd-and-9 from
 the  San  Francisco 28,  Ryan fumbled the  snap out of  the shotgun. The 49ers
 recovered with less than a minute left in the third frame.
 
 "It was just kind of a freak play. I took my eye off the ball for a second and
 it  ended up  on the ground," Ryan  said. "Against a good team, you can't have
 those kind of mistakes."
 
 A 15-yard roughing the passer penalty on third down gave the 49ers a fresh set
 of  downs. Michael Crabtree followed with a 33-yard catch on the first play of
 the  fourth  quarter. Just  two plays  later, Crabtree caught  a pass for four
 yards  before Dunta  Robinson stripped the ball. Atlanta recovered the ball at
 the 1-yard line.
 
 After  holding the Falcons to a three-and-out, Ted Ginn Jr. returned a punt 20
 yards  to the  Atlanta  38.  Crabtree caught  an  8-yard  pass following  four
 straight runs. Gore then found a hole on the right side and scampered into the
 end zone for a 28-24 lead with 8:23 to play.
 
 San Francisco's defense held strong to secure the come-from-behind victory.
 
 The  Falcons jumped  out to a big  lead for the second consecutive week. White
 kept  Atlanta's first  drive alive  with a  16-yard catch  on 3rd-and-9.  Just
 two  plays later, Ryan confused the defense with a play-action pass. Jones was
 wide open down the left side for a 46-yard touchdown.
 
 The  home team  tacked on a field goal after San Francisco went three-and-out.
 Jones helped set up Matt Bryant's 35-yard field goal with a 27-yard catch.
 
 Atlanta  was driving again  at the end of the first quarter. White hauled in a
 23-yard  pass on  the final play to move  the ball to the San Francisco 20. On
 the  first  play of the  second stanza,  Jones made a  great catch in the left
 corner of the end zone to make it 17-0.
 
 The 49ers' offense finally woke up on the ensuing possession. Gore started the
 series  with four  straight runs, which gave San Francisco its first two first
 downs  of the contest.  On 3rd-and-7, Davis caught a 27-yard pass. That set up
 LaMichael James' 15-yard TD run with 8:08 left in the half.
 
 San  Francisco put together another long scoring drive on its next possession.
 Davis'   19-yard  catch,  Kaepernick's  23-yard  run,  a  15-yard  unnecessary
 roughness  penalty  on Atlanta  and Davis'  25-yard catch put  the ball at the
 four.  From  there, Kaepernick used  the play-action pass  to find Davis for a
 touchdown with 1:55 remaining.
 
 Ryan and the Falcons responded with an impressive 80-yard drive that only took
 1:30  off the  clock. Ryan completed four  passes of at least 13 yards to move
 the  ball to the San Francisco 16. Gonzalez followed with consecutive catches,
 with the second resulting in a 10-yard score and 24-14 lead.
 
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 Jacquizz Rodgers carried the ball 10 times for 32 yards for Atlanta, which was
 trying  to  make it back to  the Super Bowl for  the first time since the 1998
 season  ...  The Falcons led  Seattle 20-0 at  halftime in last week's playoff
 game  ... Ryan  set Falcons playoff records  with 396 yards and a 114.8 passer
 rating  ...  James,  a rookie  out  of  Oregon,  had  zero touchdowns  in  the
 regular  season  ... Since  2001, including  playoffs, the  49ers were 1-27 in
 games  they  trailed by at  least 17 points ...  Jones set a Falcons franchise
 record for the most receiving yards in a playoff game.
 
 
 01/21 01:06:58 ET