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Wednesday, November 28, 2012
One way 49ers got the better of Saints

By Mike Sando

Before Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers had run the ball four times in four chances under coach Jim Harbaugh when using two backs and two tight ends on third-and-2 situations.

Steve Spagnuolo, the New Orleans Saints' defensive coordinator, had reason to expect another run when the 49ers sent this same 22 personnel package onto the field against his defense on third-and-2 Sunday.

Instead, the 49ers opted for a play-action pass from Colin Kaepernick to tight end Delanie Walker. The play produced a 45-yard gain, with what ESPN Stats & Information charted as 25 yards gained on the pass itself. Walker gained the remaining 20 yards after the catch against what had to be a surprised Saints defense. New Orleans rushed six players, including a defensive back. Walker got open against linebacker Curtis Lofton.

Three plays later, the 49ers were in the end zone. They had scored on their opening drive of the second half to break a 14-14 tie in a game they won, 31-21.

"I would say that what's exposed and looks like to you guys that Curtis had trouble covering that tight end, I'm taking the blame for that one," Spagnuolo told reporters Monday. "That was a third-and-2. I was expecting run. We pressured.

"I'll go in this direction, too, that we all think pressure is the answer to everything. Sometimes it bites you in the butt, too. They blocked it up, we brought a lot of people, it's a long down. That's hard for anybody to cover that long so we suffered a little bit there."