SAN FRANCISCO — In a matchup between backup quarterbacks, Elvis Grbac had a sideline advantage over Bobby Hebert.
Grbac, getting tips from Steve Young along the way, helped San Francisco score 33 consecutive points. Hebert had one problem after another playing in place of the suspended Jeff George as the 49ers beat the winless Atlanta Falcons, 39-17, Sunday.
"We know how to work together and that's how we got the job done," said Grbac, who regularly consulted with the injured Young on the sideline. "We just have two quarterbacks who know how to play, how to win and that's an advantage for this team."
Jeff Wilkins added a team-record-tying six field goals for the 49ers (3-1), who rebounded from last week's 23-7 loss at Carolina during which Young aggravated a groin strain. It's not yet known whether Grbac or Young will start next week's game at St. Louis.
San Francisco also was without tight end Brent Jones, sidelined for at least three weeks because of a shoulder injury.
Hebert led the Falcons (0-4) to a field goal on their first series but the outing quickly turned into a fiasco.
"When you don't win, you have to take your lumps," Hebert said.
Hebert, who completed 17 of 32 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns, fumbled once and was intercepted three times, and Marquez Pope returned one of the interceptions 55 yards for a touchdown. The other two led to two of Wilkins' field goals.
While Hebert struggled in the face of San Francisco's strong defensive outing, Grbac improved to 4-2 as a starter. He threw for 222 yards, completing 22 of 35 passes. His 16-yard touchdown pass to Ted Popson, playing in place of Jones, put San Francisco ahead, 27-3, at halftime.
"Our defense is one of the best in the league and if you're a smart quarterback you help them out by not making stupid mistakes, and that's my game," Grbac said.
Running back Terry Kirby, seeing his first extensive duty since being acquired from Miami six weeks ago, made his initial impact with his arm, throwing a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Rice.
Anthony Lynn's 67-yard run set up the sixth field goal by Wilkins, who tied Ray Wersching's record, set in 1983 against New Orleans.