New Orleans Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers and the New Orleans Saints meet in the Big Easy as both teams begin their preseason for the 2011 NFL Football season. The Saints are -3 point favorites over the 49ers with an over/under point ttal set at 37.
A year after winning the Super Bowl the New Orleans Saints return to the playoffs but not as division champs instead as a Wildcard team where they promptly went into Seattle as double digit favorites and lost outright. The good news for the Saints is that QB Drew Brees has been a man on a mission and worked his teammates out during the lockout, which should give them a nice edge at this point. Chase Daniel is going to get a long look at backup since he is really the only other option as Sean Canfield is more of a project. The Saints were banged up at Running Back last year and there are still some lingering effects with Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory both still nursing injuries which means we’ll get a good chance to see rookie and former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and the newly acquired Darren Sproles who steps into Reggie Bush’s old spot. There is a ton of talent at Wide Receiver but a lot of players who have yet to pass a physical so it’s going to be a mixture of players here but one thing is for certain, the Saints have speed to burn. Marquis Colston still hasn’t practiced but with Lance Moore, Devery Henderson, Robert Meacham, Courtney Roby, and a host of free agents there is no shortage of options. Jimmy Graham emerged as a major target at Tight End and Dave Thomas is another option. The New Orleans defense only allowed 307 points a year ago but they should be even better this season as this is the best group of linbebacking options they have had. Jon Vilma has the middle nailed down but look for Martez Wilson to make a push for playing time on the outside. Tracey Porter is injured but they are looking for him to be back by the opener.
The San Francisco 49ers were one of the favorite to win the NFC West last season, instead they were 6-10 and in third place in the worst division in football. The bad season meant the end of Mike Singletary’s Head Coaching gig and opened the door for Jim Harbaugh to take over. Harbaugh doesn’t take over a team that needs a ton of work, it’s more of a team looking for some glue to bring them together. QB is one of the bigger question marks as Alex Smith returns but it’s time to question once again if he is the right guy for the job but all the Niners have to compete are two rookies, Colin Kaepernick and Jeremiah Masoli who are both known for having better legs than arms. Frank Gore is one of the best Running Backs in the game when healthy and he’s an every down back, a rarity in today’s NFL but Anthony Dixon has proved to b a capable backup and it will be interesting to see how Kendall Hunter is used after he racked up big numbers at Oklahoma State and is the type of back Kaepernick had at Nevada. Michael Crabtree probably won’t be a go in this one but San Francisco picked up Braylon Edwards and we’ll see if Ted Ginn Jr. can come closer to reaching his potential, as well as Josh Morgan, and Kyle Williams. Vernon Davis has emerged as an elite Tight End and Delanie Walker is slated to be his backup. While defense was Singletary’s forte was defense the 49ers are in good shape there as they were sixth against the run last season but 24th against the pass. The reality is the defense allowed 346 points but they were on the field a lot and with any kind of offense, Patrick Willis should have his unit ready.
San Francisco was a perfect 4-0 last preseason while New Orleans went 2-2 and didn’t win a road game. With this one being more Chase Daniel and Mark Ingram and less Drew Brees, they may have a tough time with this Niner defense but the 49ers offense hasn’t convinced anyone they can do anything yet. This one is low scoring.