Weems provides brief spark with big return

Falcons punt returner Eric Weems gave the Falcons a spark in the first quarter and third quarter with a 41-yard punt return and a 50-yard kickoff return against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Levi Stadium.

“All that doesn’t matter to me, if we don’t come out with a W,” said Weems. “It’s a real empty feeling for me.”

With the Falcons holding a 3-0 lead, Weems stuttered stepped and broke out to the left. He came back across the field to the right and had plenty of room outside.

He didn’t get out to his right far enough and was tackled by San Francisco punter Bradley Pinion.

“I wasn’t really even looking at the punter,” Weems said. “I was looking at the guy inside because I wanted to cut back. By the time I put my eyes on the punter, he hit my legs.”

Weems credited his blockers for his best day of the season.

“The guys up front did a nice job tonight,” Weems said. “Them guys get all of the credit.”

With the Falcons trailing 17-13 at halftime, Weems took the second half kickoff out to his right and raced out to the 50-yard line. The offense has another spark, but couldn’t move the ball.

“That’s part of the game,” Weems said. “There are three phases to a game. We have been practicing hard all week to get this thing on the right track. We are trying to give this thing a spark because we’ve been lacking on our end the last few weeks. We are picking it up slowly.”

The Falcons wasted the punt return and then gave up a touchdown as San Francisco took a 7-3 lead.

It was Weems’ longest return since he had a 42-yard return in 2011. It was the Falcons’ longest return since Devin Hester had a 62-yarder against Tampa Bay in Week 3 of the 2014 season.

Weems continued to have a tough day.

He was pummeled on another return with 7:33 left in the second quarter. He was knocked out of bounds near the Falcons sidelines after a 14-yard return by San Francisco’s Vance McDonald.

The return set the Falcons up on the 49ers’ 45. After Matt Ryan completed a 26-yard pass to tight end Jacob Tamme on first down, the drive stalled. The Falcons could only muster one more yard and were forced to kick a field goal.

Matt Bryant’s 36-yard field goal cut the 49ers lead to a one point, 7-6.

After trailing 17-13 at halftime, Weems got the Falcons off to a good start in the third quarter with a 50-yard kickoff return.

The drive was aborted by a Ryan Schraeder holding penalty.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons roster: Should they stay or go? 
The Falcons roster: Should they stay or go? 

Two yards away. The Falcons were just two yards away from advancing to their second consecutive NFC championship this season. After finishing 11-7 overall, it was just the third time in franchise history that teams posted back-to-back 10-win seasons. After the past two seasons, they join coach Mike Smith’s teams from 2010-12 that did it three...
Early mock drafts: Massive Vita Vea headed to Falcons
Early mock drafts: Massive Vita Vea headed to Falcons
Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, who’s 6-foot-5 and 340 pounds, is a popular pick for the Falcons in some pre-combine mock drafts. At this juncture in the offseason, Vea makes sense because the Falcons may not be able to re-sign defensive tackle Dontari Poe. Poe played last season on an incentive-laden $8 million contract. His market value...
10 key offseason dates for Atlanta Falcons
10 key offseason dates for Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons have a number offseason priorities, among them singing quarterback Matt Ryan to a team-friendly long-term deal. Here are 10 key dates to know about as the team heads into the 2018 offseason. The NFL Scouting Combine takes place in Indianapolis. Head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff will be among the Falcons officials...
Falcons hire Parmalee as running backs coach, two other assistants  
Falcons hire Parmalee as running backs coach, two other assistants  

The Falcons hired former NFL running back Bernie Parmalee as their running backs coach on Wednesday. Parmalee replaces Keith Carter, who left to become the Titans running backs coach earlier this offseason. The team also hired Mayur Chaudhari as a special teams assistant and Chad Walker as an offensive assistant.  “We are excited to be able...
Cover 9@9: Ryan set to become NFL’s first $30 million dollar a year man 
Cover 9@9: Ryan set to become NFL’s first $30 million dollar a year man 
1. $30 million man. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is in line to become the NFL’s first $30 million a year man.  “It’s quite possible,” Joel Corry, CBS Sports NFL business analyst told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. “Kirk Cousins might beat him to it, if he’s an unrestricted free agent...
More Stories