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Falcons lead 49ers 10-3 at halftime

Associated Press
Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson (39) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in San Francisco, Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. At left rear is Falcons' Joe Hawley. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
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Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson (39) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first …

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Steven Jackson scored on a 2-yard run and Matt Bryant kicked a 35-yard field goal, helping the Atlanta Falcons to a 10-3 halftime lead against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night in the final regular-season game at Candlestick Park.

Phil Dawson hit a 49-yard field goal for the 49ers (10-4), who can clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Falcons (4-10).

San Francisco still needs help to win the division and secure at least one home playoff game. The Niners need to win their final two games and have Seattle lose at home next week to St. Louis to win the division. San Francisco would miss the playoffs if it loses to Atlanta and at Arizona next week.

It was a celebratory night with a star presence, with Hall of Famers Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Willie Mays and Willie McCovey all in attendance at the stadium that used to be the home of the San Francisco Giants. Even the end zones were painted red — something usually reserved for playoff games.

The Niners will move into $1.2 billion Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara while Candlestick waits out its implosion day, likely in late 2014.

It was the 358th game played at Candlestick by the 49ers since moving here in 1971, including the playoffs. No opponent has lost more times here than the Falcons, who are 10-23 heading into Monday night.

Atlanta tried its best to avoid adding to that loss total. After being forced to punt on their first two possessions, the Falcons broke through the third time they had the ball thanks to a long pass play by Matt Ryan and a pair of personal fouls on Donte Whitner.

Ryan hit Drew Davis in stride on a slant pass and Davis eluded safety Eric Reid and sprinted for a 59-yard gain to the San Francisco 5. Whitner then was called for a hit to the head of a defenseless receiver on an incomplete pass to Jackson and got another personal foul for arguing the call.

Jackson ran it in on the next play to give the Falcons a 7-3 lead and Atlanta's defense held the rest of the half to preserve the lead.

Bryant added his field goal with 5 seconds left in the half after Carlos Rogers dropped a potential interception.

Ryan was 16 for 20 for 134 yards in the half.

San Francisco scored on its first possession to take the lead. Colin Kaepernick completed a pair of passes to Anquan Boldin and scrambled for 8 yards before getting sacked on third-and-2 from the 29.

Dawson came in and hit his franchise-record 25th straight field goal to give the Niners a 3-0 lead.

Boldin went over the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time since 2009 later in the quarter but the 49ers offense struggled with Kaepernick completing just 6 of 11 passes for 69 yards while getting sacked twice.

The Falcons lost defensive tackle Corey Peters to an Achilles injury in the first half. He will not return.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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