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“Well, I think it’s just being decisive,” Alex Smith said. “I think that’s when good things happen. When you’re unsure back there and you’re not sure if you should pull the trigger or not, you try to make a play with your feet … and that’s when bad things happen.”

Alex Smith indicated his differences with Raye stemmed from the former coordinator’s unwillingness to change the game plan if certain plays weren’t working. Now that Johnson will call plays, Smith believes the offense will improve.

“Week-in, week-out and over the course of a game, you have to be flexible,” he said. “You have to know what the defense is doing and combat that. (He and Johnson) speak pretty freely. We’re very comfortable speaking our minds with whatever comes.”

To keep the score close, the 49ers need their defense to limit time of possession against the NFL’s best in that category.

They have hope with middle linebacker Patrick Willis, defensive tackle Justin Smith and cornerback Nate Clements, who combined in last year’s 45-10 home loss to Atlanta for 17 solo stops, two forced fumbles, two tackles for lost yardage and one quarterback hit.

“I don’t put any merit into what (San Franciso’s) record is,” Mike Smith said. “When you watch them on tape, they are impressive.”

Against the 49ers last year, the Falcons’ defense countered with a heavy rush from John Abraham and Kroy Biermann as the two defensive ends combined for two sacks and one fumble recovery.

But the Atlanta offense was equally dominant in playing its best road game of 2009.

White set career and franchise highs in yards receiving with 210 and scored two touchdowns on eight receptions. Turner scored three TDs and averaged 4.4 yards on 22 carries. Ryan passed for a career-best 329 yards.

Over their last two games, the Falcons have looked just as lethal.

Matt’s killing it right now, man,” White said. “Making great decisions, great throws, putting the ball at the right spot in tight coverage. We’re having some fun.”

Singletary hopes the 49ers find a similar groove. They can’t afford many more bad days.

“I just want the offense on the same page,” Singletary said. “I just want all the players that we have, the playmakers and everybody, to be involved. I think in one way or another, whether you’re blocking, whether you’re catching the ball or whatever you’re doing, everybody needs to play a role. That’s the most important thing for us.”