The Game The Game The Game

Funny, the closer we get to this game, the more the pundits are turning against the 49ers. What started out a weeek and a half ago as a solid match up between the best offense in the NFC and the best defense in the NFC has now devolved into a Drew Brees love-fest. “No one can stop him” “The Saints are on fire.” Sproules will gash them since the Niner D has to respect the pass” on and on and on. Horeshit, mainly, but that’s the perception out there. The thing is, as Flav alluded to, Norleans had a pretty easy schedule. Especially on the road. Of their road games, only GB and Atl had winning records. FWIW, NO’s strength of schedule index was -1.6. The Niners were -1.1. That tells me a lot. Well, not really, but the Niners won some tough road games, Philly, Cincy, Detroit, and Seattle being the tough ones. They both beat 2 playoff teams on the road, and they both took care of business at home.

The thing that gives me hope is that the Niners have played similar teams to NO. Mainly Detroit. A team that is fast and stout defensively. For all the gaudy numbers by NO last week, Detroit closed NO’s lead to 24-21 into the 4th quarter. Detroit pressed and flailed in the end, and NO got some garbage time points, but the point remains that Detroit wasn’t out of this game til the end. And the fact is, NO hasn’t played a defense near the strength of the Niners. The Niners as we all know are #1 against the run. The Niners have knocked out 5 or 6 starting RBs this year. They hit hard, and teams get tired of beating their heads against that wall. The Niners give up passing yards, but do not give up long TDs. I other words, the Niners DON’T have to alter their normal defensive strategy too much to play the Saints. Stop the run, force the pass, defend the deep balls.

NO is very adept and the underneath stuff, and this is where I’m hopeful that Patrick Willis is fully recovered. He drops into coverage a lot, and he’ll be covering Jimmy Graham. He of the 99 catches and 1310 yards. A tough assignment. He and Marcus Colston offer a pretty tough set of pass-catchers to defend against.  They can go underneath to him, or over the top with Colston. As usual, a lot of the success of the Niners falls on the front 7 and how much pressure they can get on Drew Brees. I’m sure the Niners will come out and rush 4 from the start. Mainly to see if they can cause enough havoc with their base defense. Given my druthers, I’d think about getting Aldon Smith more reps on 2nd down. try to force matchup problems on 2nd and long plays.

In the end, this game is reminding me more and more of Super Bowl XXIX. Miami came in as the darling offensive juggernaut that was supposed to steamroll everything in its path. The Niners, who practice against a vastly superior defense (then and now), stopped them by the 2nd quarter and coasted to victory. Hey, it could happen . . .

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About unca_chuck

Lifelong SF 49ers and SF Giants fan
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32 Responses to The Game The Game The Game

  1. Kevin says:

    That is what I have been preaching at work, is how were the Niners going to Stop Dan Marino and the Dolphins offense. Well not one sports writer commented on the Niner D. much less the Niners offense!! so yeah I think the Niners have a very good chance of winning this game. NO is only favored by 3 1/2?? Is that right?

  2. shaman138 says:

    Another unfortunate (for me, anyway) game to comapre this one to and how it could play out is the Raiders vs. Tampa bowl…..where the #1 offense (Raiders) went up against the #1 defense (Bucs) and got crushed by Tampa….but their ex-coach was coaching for Tampa and knew what the Raiders were going to do before the Raiders did. My point is, whatever they’re saying right now about how this is the year of the QB, etc. is mostly bullshit, and defense still wins championships. As much as I’m pulling for the Saints on this one, my head and gut are saying they’re going home on Saturday evening while SF heads to Wisconsin.

    • NinerDog says:

      It didn’t help that the Raider offensive center went out and got so fucked up the night before the Super Bowl he got kicked off the team….that fucked the Raiders completely

  3. twinfan1 says:

    In the “glory years” many unstoppble QBs met Walsh’s defenses, most notably Marino and Elway, and kinda done got stopped. The defense today is different, in that we don’t rely as much on the DBs as much as the front seven. Brees is tough to sack, I think blitzing much would be suicide.Despite the big yards,Detroit actually played him pretty well, they were in his face and forced him into several poor throws/decisions.

    • shaman138 says:

      But because of the Lions’ pass rush, they left the middle and back-field open for Brees to ultimately carve them up. In reality, if it wasn’t for Megatron’s stellar play, Detroit would have been done by halftime.

  4. unca_chuck says:

    Yeah, Norleans is, at this point, a 3.5 point fave.

    Yes, the Niners will have to pick and choose wisely when to blitz. They’ll likely adjust as the game goes on, depending on the success of the base defense. This is why I think they should risk getting Aldon Smith in there in 2nd down situations. Everyone thinks NO is going to try and establish the run early. I think that is bullshit. I think they are going to try and get on us early, and then use their run game.

    As far as the Niners back in the day go, I think Seifert never gets his due in building that defense. His defenses in the 80s were usually at or near the top year after year. Yes, a lot of that had to do with the drafts, but he adapted very well to the types of players he had, switching between a 3-4 and 4-3 as needed. He was a part of all 5 49er Super Bowl wins, and is one of only 12 coaches to have multiple Super Bowl wins. 114-62 (and a 10-5 playoff record) ain’t too shabby. Give Walsh’s ghost the 1989 game, but the 1994 game was Shanahan and Seifert (and Deion).

  5. snarkk says:

    I’m good with Aldon Smith on 2nd down, a good idea. But not all the time, since he hasn’t done that all season, and I’d be scared a bit of him running out of gas early. Being young, he shouldn’t run out of gas, but I’d be wary of that. As for parallels with the Marino SB game, yeah, I see some similarities. But, the Niners had a vastly superior offense then to this one, so that helped keep Marino off the field, in addition to Seifert’s D putting the brakes on the Smurfs or whatever the hell they called his receivers…

  6. unca_chuck says:

    If the run game is on, then the Niners will be in decent shape. The Niners had Big Hands Johnson kicking their ass up front all game, and Marino had his whiny face on by the end of the 2nd quarter.

  7. NinerDog says:

    A lot of the talk on the wire has been about Brees, as it should be. But Detroit aint the 49ers.
    Detroits LB’s kinda sucked. They went 100% for most of the game but they just were not good enough.
    The 49ers don’t get tired and never give up as it appeared Detroit did at the end last week.
    The 49ers have Willis and Bowman to take out the big Aint TE and Aint RB Sproles.
    Sopoaga, Justin Smith and Ray MacDonald will cause chaos with the Saints offensive blocking scheme and timing. Aldon Smith, Parys Haralson and Ahmed Brooks will target Brees on the passing plays and hold the edge on the wide runs.
    There is no doubt in my mind they can do that, especially if the Aints start their drives in the hole on their own 10. Thank you Andy Lee. Those long distances from the endzone will increase the chances of the Aints committing a turnover during a drive.
    The 49ers tackle superbly one on one. A big gain does not mean an automatic score. We who have observed know this.
    On offense, Frank Gore cannot be more important. His ability to pick up the blitz and protect Alex Smith is….well Golden! He is a great pass blocker. This will be as important as his running. Where he must have a great game. I think he is healthy by now, as is the Offensive line and they all are ready for a great, tough physical ball control game.
    Which brings us to A.Smith and the receivers. Alex has been great at controlling the game and feeding the ball to the right guys. He has kept the defenses on their heels and keeps that offense moving forward. He is big, tough and smart. Faster than he looks too. He can cover a lot of ground in a hurry. I have watched how he keeps everybody’s head in the game and has command on the field. Those lineman respond to him. I remember the first drive after Pittsburgh kicked their second field goal. The 49er offense went down and scored with authority.

    Crabtree and Williams may have to bust a move or two and make that play we have been looking for…the long touchdown. They will get their chance with as much blitzing as the Aints do. The same goes for Vernon and Ginn, kinda…the main thing is that they have to CATCH and hang onto the ball first!
    The 49ers can beat the Aints, but they can beat the 49ers too.
    This should be a great game with the 49ers coming out on top.
    Let them talk about Brees, but afterwards they will be talking about the 49ers.
    It is still a team sport.

  8. unca_chuck says:

    Keeping Smith clean is the top priority.

    As it is for Brees and NO.

    The team that does a better job of keeping their QB out of trouble likely wins this game. Again, I think we come out throwing quick passes. Slants, and the occasional delayed draw early to try and minimize their quickness.

    I don’t recall offhand how NO plays their safeties but they could be ripe for a deep seam route if they cheat up. I mean, Detroit had a ton of success all over the field on these guys til Schwartz panicked.

  9. unca_chuck says:

    That’s a nice synopsis, ‘Dog. And like you, I’m not too worried about the defense.

    But as I said above, the blocking and how the Niners handle the blitz will determine a lot about this game.

  10. NinerDog says:

    Well if Gore blocks the right guy and Anthony Davis doesn’t get pulled to wide chasing someone, Alex should have juuust enough time to find the open man….who I hope can bust one for a score

  11. NinerDog says:

    Detroit came out throwing pretty successfully, I think Smith can too if the guys can hang on to the ball. I like the matchup their safety Harper and our Vernon Davis present, as long as Harper’s “bad ankle” sprain isn’t being bullshitted…I am a conspiracy guy sometimes

  12. NinerDog says:

    If Vernon catches the ball will anybody dare to tackle him from behind? That plumbers crack look ain’t right! I mean cover your shit up! Lol
    HDTV wasn’t made to look at that, right? Damn!

  13. snarkk says:

    With NO doing all that blitzing, supposedly, I wanna see a couple of smoke screens to KWilliams, and let his legs run. And a coupla screens to Hunter up the middle. It’s time to pull some shit out of the hat…

  14. twinfan1 says:

    The Saints blitz a lot but are not very successful at it. This isn’t the first preseason game. And Alex is among the league leaders against the blitz at 107+ QBR.

  15. snarkk says:

    Detroit got two early turnovers from NO, but tellingly, did not capitalize with TDs from both turnovers. You can’t just let Akers boot 3s if you get turnovers inside Saints territory. TDs are at a premium in this game, and if Harbaugh has to loosen the offensive dogs a bit to get them, so be it…

  16. NinerDog says:

    I think the 49ers have a few wrinkles they can dial up to move the ball. Nothing weird but stuff that is run off their usual formations that hasn’t been utilized before. They should be able to move the ball against the Aints in the red zone. That being said I will take the 3’s on 4th down if you have to. Better to come away with points than no points.

  17. twinfan1 says:

    All they have to do win is what they have been doing all year. IMHO. They’ve improved the RZ effiiciency the last 3 games but I wouldn’t be sneezing at 3 if they do have to take it.

  18. NinerDog says:

    Snark, I totally get what you are saying, but 5 FG’s and 1 TD might win it…by a point!
    I am as anxious as anybody, I would like to see them sink their teeth in the endzone every time they get close this weekend. They are liable to do it too. That is the difference a week makes. One team heals up and the other is still a little beaten up. It is a short week for the Aints with a cross country trip, they are the one playing an “early” game this week…I am speaking of their “bodyclock”. I am glad the NFL doesn’t trust Candlestick at night and scheduled the afternoon game…it actually helps the 49ers!

  19. twinfan1 says:

    Over the last 3 games they’re at 66 % , same as the Saints.

  20. NinerDog says:

    Sweeeet!

  21. snarkk says:

    A day late, but I don’t tire of it. Bill Walsh didn’t think it would work, he KNEW it would work. “Dwight WILL clear…”. What a coach. I hope Saturday starts an era even half as great….

  22. NinerDog says:

    Thanks Snark, I just got chills running down my spine from watching that video and listening to Randy Cross talk about that moment

    I am all in…Saturday will be great Go 49ers!!!

  23. phil fan says:

    Love it. 2 things I noticed on here @ 1:15 or so DC has caught the ball, TD has been signaled and the camera cuts to Bill. Someone slaps him on the back, he turns away from the field and for a moment we see his face. He’s choked up, almost in tears and quickly turns away again from the camera. He knows what the moment means for the Niners and for himself. Destiny has been fulfilled, hard work, faith and hope have been rewarded. The future will never be the same for all of them. Even for us.

    Remember TO getting choked up catching that laser from Young against the Pack? Like that but better.

    Also at the 1:09 point Clark catches the ball. This is the best shot for what follows. Recently he explained “Most people don’t realize there were two parts to that catch. First I stopped the ball in the air. Then I had to grab it as I came down.” You can see him grabbing the ball at about his chest area and he stops moving his hands, the ball secure at about his stomach area. He takes two steps, spike! History!

    .

  24. unca_chuck says:

    30 fricking years ago . . .

    Crazy. .. .

    Listening to the pundits, and even LeSean McCoy,on the NFL network, who said the hardest loss for the Iggles to take was the Niner loss at home, still doesn’t give Smith any credit. Smith drove the team to 3 2nd half TD drives to win the game. And he talks about oh, it was all Gore.

    I guess it’s like Justin Tuck said, after losing, well, he out-managed us.

  25. Nipper says:

    The national media in general do not know shit about the Niners. They just don’t have a clue.

  26. Kevin says:

    I forgot about what Joe said to Too Tall!! what a classic line!! Need a book of sports quotables. I also like the Larry Bird quote, he walked into the locker room where the players were suiting up for the 3 point contest during all star game and he asked “Who is playing for second place?” LMAO when I heard that one.

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