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49ers Thrive on Resiliency, Toughness

Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle

The football left Matt Ryan's right hand and floated gently toward the left corner of the end zone, a tantalizing testament to the home team's bravado. When Julio Jones rose up to seize it, the catch stood as a perfect metaphor for the way the Atlanta Falcons were grabbing hold of during Sunday's NFC championship game at the Georgia Dome.

As Jones ignored the flailing arms of cornerback Tarell Brown, corralled the ball and gracefully dragged his feet on the last available inches of green turf, the San Francisco 49ers absolutely seemed headed for a hard, inglorious fall.

Following the replay confirmation of Jones' second touchdown catch and Matt Bryant's extra point, the Niners – one play into the second quarter – trailed 17-0 and seemed to have...

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