The facts: The 49ers fell to 0-4 with a 16-14 road defeat to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4.
The upside: Even the worst defeats tend to feature a bright spot or two.
Receiver Dominique Zeigler, coming off a game in which he made a 19-yard reception on third-and-15 at Kansas City, blocked a punt to help the 49ers jump to a 14-0 lead against the Falcons.
Rookie safety Taylor Mays fielded the blocked punt in the end zone, got both feet down inbounds and maintained possession of the ball throughout. His impact on special teams was greater even though the 49ers reduced his reps in that area overall.
Mays seemed to play well at strong safety after replacing Michael Lewis in the starting lineup. Reggie Smith had beaten out Mays for the No. 2 spot during training camp, but Mays got more work late in the week as the 49ers tried to get him up to speed. This performance was a positive one for Mays.
The 49ers were ready to play from the beginning. They scored a touchdown on their opening drive for the first time since the 2008 season. They made early plays on defense and special teams. Coach Mike Singletary couldn't afford another performance along the lines of the game in Kansas City. This effort showed the team could still respond.
Tight end Vernon Davis caught a touchdown pass.
Michael Crabtree became more involved, catching five passes for 58 yards.
The 49ers' defense controlled the Falcons' running game while holding quarterback Matt Ryan to his lowest passer rating since Week 10 last season.
Punter Andy Lee helped pin the Falcons inside their 20-yard line three times.
The 49ers are only two games out of the NFC West lead with five division games left to play and only one game in an opposing team's stadium between Monday and Nov. 29.
Looking ahead: The 49ers face the Philadelphia Eagles at Candlestick Park in Week 5.