Monday, January 9, 2012
Hot Topic: How can 49ers beat Saints?
By Mike Sando
NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas and I will be chatting soon for a piece sizing up the New Orleans Saints' and San Francisco 49ers' chances Saturday.
Of course, Pat will be the one reaching out as part of the long-established "gentleman's agreement" requiring bloggers covering lower-seeded teams to contact those for higher-seeded teams during the week leading up to a playoff matchup.
Each of us will be making a case for the teams from the divisions we cover. That's where you come in. How can the 49ers win this game?
I began throwing out a few notes on the subject during Twitter exchanges Saturday night. I'll revisit them here to get the conversation going:
- The Saints played 11 indoor games during the regular season, averaging 38 points per game in them. They averaged 23.8 in their last four outdoor games. Weather should not be a problem Saturday, but the grass at Candlestick Park can be slick anyway.
- The Saints' last two outdoor games included a 22-17 victory at Tennesse and a 26-20 defeat at Tampa Bay. The Titans were eighth in points allowed this season. The Bucs were 32nd.
- The 49ers have allowed 10 total points in their last three home games, although the opposing quarterbacks were limited (an injured Ben Roethlisberger, A.J. Feeley and John Skelton).
- The 49ers played four explosive quarterbacks. They beat Michael Vick and Matthew Stafford on the road. They lost to Tony Romo at home. They beat Eli Manning at home. The 49ers allowed 422.5 total yards per game against those quarterbacks' teams, compared to 270.1 yards per game against everyone else. But they still went 3-1.
- Granted, Frank Gore did not finish the season strong. The 49ers still had 178 yards rushing at Seattle in Week 16, with Kendall Hunter and Alex Smith contributing.
- The St. Louis Rams (this season) and 49ers (last season) are the last two teams to hold the Saints beneath 300 yards.
I'm not predicting a 49ers victory, necessarily. But neither would I rule one out. If you are among those liking the 49ers' chances, please elaborate. Thanks.