|Last 3 Games||2-0||+2||2-1||2-1||26.7||14.7||337.7||(6.4)||0.0||11.3||4.7||288.7||(4.6)||1.3|
|Offense (All Games)||24.5||11.0||21.0||31:44||30-165||(5.5)||18-27||69.2%||199||(7.5)||57-365||(6.4)||(14.9)|
|Opponents Defensive Avg.||22.2||10.9||19.8||30:17||27-117||(4.3)||21-35||60.7%||224||(6.4)||62-341||(5.5)||(15.4)|
|Offense Road Games||25.2||11.5||20.5||31:56||31-158||(5.1)||18-25||72.5%||180||(7.1)||57-338||(6)||(13.4)|
|Defense (All Games)||13.4||6.3||16.7||29:46||26-94||(3.7)||20-33||59.5%||183||(5.5)||59-277||(4.7)||(20.7)|
|Opponents Offensive Avg.||22.3||10.8||19.5||30:26||27-117||(4.3)||21-34||61.2%||219||(6.4)||61-336||(5.5)||(15.1)|
|Defense Road Games||12.2||6.0||17.7||28:04||20-61||(3)||24-40||60.2%||209||(5.2)||60-269||(4.5)||(22)|
|Stats For (All Games)||0.5||0.4||0.9||0.6||11-4||35.4%||1-0||66.7%||3-75||(24.9)||3-30||(11.3)||7-58|
|Opponents Avg. Stats Against||1.1||0.7||1.7||2||13-5||39.1%||1-0||55.0%||3-66||(24)||21-2||(9.9)||6-53|
|Stats For (Road Games)||0.2||0.5||0.7||1.2||11-4||37.2%||0-0||100.0%||2-70||(40)||3-36||(11.9)||8-68|
|Stats Against (All Games)||0.8||0.7||1.5|| ||13-4||32.6%||1-1||54.5%||2-67||(28.1)||2-15||(8.2)||6-44|
|Opponents Avg. Stats For||1||0.7||1.7|| ||13-5||36.4%||1-1||53.8%||3-63||(24.2)||21-2||(9.7)||6-54|
|Stats Against (Road Games)||0.7||1.2||2.0|| ||13-4||31.5%||1-1||50.0%||2-55||(27.5)||2-24||(13.6)||5-42|
|Last 3 Games||3-0||+3.1||3-0||1-2||32.3||21.0||397.7||(7.1)||1.0||19.0||9.0||435.0||(6.3)||1.7|
|Offense (All Games)||28.7||16.3||20.8||27:04||22-95||(4.3)||25-40||62.4%||296||(7.4)||62-391||(6.3)||(13.6)|
|Opponents Defensive Avg.||24.2||11.7||19.6||30:46||26-107||(4.2)||22-35||62.1%||245||(6.9)||61-352||(5.8)||(14.5)|
|Offense Home Games||29.2||16.0||20.0||26:02||21-91||(4.4)||23-38||59.9%||281||(7.3)||59-372||(6.3)||(12.7)|
|Defense (All Games)||27.3||15.0||25.7||33:47||31-157||(5)||24-38||63.8%||306||(8.1)||69-463||(6.7)||(17)|
|Opponents Offensive Avg.||23.3||11.1||20.6||30:29||27-114||(4.2)||22-35||62.9%||247||(7)||62-362||(5.8)||(15.5)|
|Defense Home Games||26.2||12.6||25.0||35:40||31-162||(5.3)||26-41||62.4%||298||(7.3)||72-460||(6.4)||(17.6)|
|Stats For (All Games)||0.9||0.3||1.2||0.2||13-6||44.9%||1-0||62.5%||2-69||(27.6)||1-7||(6.2)||7-59|
|Opponents Avg. Stats Against||1||0.6||1.6||1.9||13-5||38.2%||1-0||45.0%||2-53||(23)||21-2||(9)||7-56|
|Stats For (Home Games)||1.0||0.6||1.6||0.0||12-5||42.4%||1-0||66.7%||3-84||(26.4)||1-5||(3.6)||7-64|
|Stats Against (All Games)||0.7||0.7||1.4|| ||13-5||38.8%||1-1||53.3%||3-59||(22)||2-19||(9.1)||6-53|
|Opponents Avg. Stats For||1.1||0.8||1.9|| ||13-5||38.6%||1-0||47.7%||2-56||(22.6)||18-2||(7.8)||6-52|
|Stats Against (Home Games)||0.8||0.8||1.6|| ||15-6||37.7%||1-1||57.1%||3-57||(21.8)||3-24||(9.2)||8-67|
|Average power rating of opponents played: SAN FRANCISCO 20.2, NEW ORLEANS 19|
|9/30/2012||@ NY JETS||34-0||W||-3.5||W||41||U||44-245||12-22-134||0||17-45||14-30-100||4|
|11/25/2012||@ NEW ORLEANS|| || || || || || || || || || || || |
|12/2/2012||@ ST LOUIS|| || || || || || || || || || || || |
|12/9/2012||MIAMI|| || || || || || || || || || || || |
|12/16/2012||@ NEW ENGLAND|| || || || || || || || || || || || |
|12/23/2012||@ SEATTLE|| || || || || || || || || || || || |
|9/30/2012||@ GREEN BAY||27-28||L||7.5||W||54||O||19-45||35-54-429||0||25-102||31-41-319||2|
|10/21/2012||@ TAMPA BAY||35-28||W||-1.5||W||49||O||26-81||27-37-377||1||25-98||24-42-415||0|
|11/25/2012||SAN FRANCISCO|| || || || || || || || || || || || |
|11/29/2012||@ ATLANTA|| || || || || || || || || || || || |
|12/9/2012||@ NY GIANTS|| || || || || || || || || || || || |
|12/16/2012||TAMPA BAY|| || || || || || || || || || || || |
|12/23/2012||@ DALLAS|| || || || || || || || || || || || |
|SAN FRANCISCO: Despite adding firepower to their receiving corps, the Niners offense will still be based on the power running game. Their scheme is almost exclusively man blocking and almost all between the tackles. Due to the presence of youngsters Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James, they're unlikely to run Frank Gore into the ground like they have in recent seasons. Assuming he beats out veteran Brandon Jacobs, Hunter is more of a traditional back-up, while James will be the change-of-pace back and should see a lot of his reps on passing downs. There's a good chance Jacobs will earn short-yardage duties. The Niners are also very run-heavy in the red zone, with Gore serving as the team's main option in goal-to-go situations. Head coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman have built a passing game that will work for quarterback Alex Smith. Most often Michael Crabtree is the first option, as they can get him isolated on the outside. Vernon Davis came on strong late once he picked up the offense, and he'll be used deeper down the middle of the field. Randy Moss will likely step into Braylon Edwards' seldom-used deep threat role. When they go three-wide, which is often, Mario Manningham will play the outside with Crabtree sliding into a slot. Crabtree is Smith's most frequent target in the red zone because of the attention Davis draws. The 49ers will, however, often force it to Davis in the middle of the field. The 49ers' defense is the complete package, with the league's best linebackers, a disruptive front four and an improving secondary. Justin Smith is arguably the NFL's most effective 3-4 DE'he's one of the best in the league at stopping the run and also has more pass-rushing ability than your average two-gap end, with 29.5 sacks over the past four seasons. The Niners' defensive scheme funnels ball carriers to Patrick Willis, which is why he consistently racks up more than 100 solo tackles per season. (He was on pace for 110 in 2011 before suffering a hamstring injury in Week 13.) Picking up the slack in Willis' absence was NaVorro Bowman, who was excellent in his first season as a starter. San Francisco also boasts an exceptional return game with speedy Ted Ginn Jr. one of those guys who's a threat to bring any returnable kick to the house. Ginn was obviously sorely missed in the NFC Championship Game, when ill-timed fumbles by second-string return man Kyle Williams essentially cost the 49ers a trip to the Super Bowl. |
|NEW ORLEANS: While this will be a trying year with head coach Sean Payton suspended, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. has been his right hand man running the offense for the past three seasons, calling plays while Payton was recovering from a broken leg last year. New Orleans will continue to use its versatile, three-headed running back monster with a series of different blocking schemes up front. Mark Ingram will likely lead them in carries again, most often serving as a second-half closer. Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles usually split carries in the first half, though Sproles is most often used as a receiver as opposed to a ball carrier. Ingram will take most of the red zone carries, though not exclusively. Carmichael came onto the staff as quarterbacks coach in 2006, the same year Drew Brees arrived. New Orleans will continue to use spread principles and will be fine with Brees running the show. TE Jimmy Graham and receiver Marques Colston are targets 1 and 1A for Brees, who is more comfortable throwing to receivers facing him. Because they use two backs often, slot receiver Lance Moore plays only about 50 percent of their snaps. Sproles is the main catch-and-run threat, getting screen passes and occasionally splitting wide. Thomas is used often in the screen game as well. And with Robert Meachem gone, Devery Henderson becomes the primary deep threat. Graham is the No. 1 target in the red zone but Sproles, despite his size, plays a big role on screens and swings, creating after the catch. There is not much to like about this defense, which ranked 30th in pass defense and is coming off a second straight season with a meager nine interceptions. Defensive leader LB Jonathan Vilma is suspended for bounty nonsense and the team's second-leading tackler from last season, LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar, is now in St. Louis. They'll be replaced by Curtis Lofton, who takes over at middle linebacker after playing the same position for the Falcons last season, and David Hawthorne, who was a solid run-stopper at middle linebacker for Seattle in 2011 and will likely switch to the weak side. Safety Roman Harper often blitzed and played almost exclusively in the box under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, and he will likely have a less aggressive role under new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. |
|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PA SPORTSTICKER PRO FOOTBALL PREVIEW (SAN FRANCISCO-NEW ORLEANS) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ |
(UPDATES with Harbaugh expecting Smith to be cleared)
*49ers-Saints Preview* ======================
By JORDAN GARRETSON STATS Writer
The San Francisco 49ers didn't even need their No. 1 quarterback to beat a fellow division leader in their last game. They may have found a new starter in the process.
It's unclear if Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick or both quarterbacks will be under center Sunday when the 49ers visit a New Orleans Saints team with revitalized playoff hopes.
This is a rematch of last season's NFC divisional playoff game, which San Francisco won 36-32 on Smith's 14-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis with nine seconds left.
Smith may not be starting this time after missing Monday's 32-7 win over Chicago because of the concussion he suffered Nov. 11 against St. Louis. Kaepernick impressed in his first career start, going 16 of 23 for 243 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers against a Bears defense that had forced 30 in its first nine games.
"I wanted to come out and show what I'm capable of and show that I can be a starter," said Kaepernick, a second-year player who starred collegiately at Nevada. "That's what I've been trying to prove since I've been in the league."
The once-maligned Smith has been no slouch himself this season for the West-leading Niners (7-2-1). He's completing 70.0 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions, compiling a career-best passer rating of 104.1 that ranks third in the NFL.
But coach Jim Harbaugh, who had a follow-up with doctors Tuesday after undergoing a minor procedure last week to correct an irregular heartbeat, has done little to defuse the buzz regarding a possible quarterback controversy. Harbaugh simply said San Francisco would go with "the hot hand" and declined Friday to announce a starter.
Although Harbaugh expects Smith to be medically cleared to play, the coach said the team could change quarterbacks from week to week, and even during the course of a game.
"That's up to the coaches," said Davis, who caught six passes from Kaepernick on Monday for 83 yards and a touchdown. "That's their decision. I'll let them decide and they always call the shots."
The Saints (5-5) are in the midst of a turnaround that seemed improbable after an 0-4 start. They have won three straight and five of six after a 38-17 victory at Oakland last Sunday, climbing within one game of the last NFC wild-card spot.
A tough remaining schedule still blocks New Orleans' road to a fourth straight playoff berth. San Francisco is the first of three consecutive division leaders the Saints will face, as games with Atlanta and the New York Giants await.
"We've got miles to go," said assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who is 3-1 since returning from a six-game suspension. "We're nowhere near where anyone on this team wants to be. That's why every practice and every meeting and every chance you have to get better is critical. This is a marathon."
New Orleans' passing game has been consistent all season, with Drew Brees' 28 TD passes leading the league and his 306.6 yards per game ranking second. Now, he's getting help from the running game. The Saints have run for 140-plus yards in three straight games even without Darren Sproles (broken hand). They ran for 100 once in the first seven games.
More improvement could be on the way as Sproles practiced this week and should play Sunday. In his absence, the three-headed attack of Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory combined for 419 rushing yards in the last three games.
"With the early struggles we had in the run game, we just kept at it," center Brian de la Puente said. "We stressed the little things. We knew we were close the whole time. We are at a point right now where we're very confident in our run game."
The Saints' vaunted offense - tied for fourth in the NFL at 28.7 points per game - will face one of its steepest challenges. San Francisco's defense has allowed the fewest points (13.4 per game) and ranks No. 2 overall, giving up an average of 293.9 total yards.
Aldon Smith has recorded 10 1/2 of his league-leading 15 sacks over the last four games after getting 5 1/2 against Chicago. He's one reason the 49ers haven't allowed a 300-yard passer since letting Brees throw for 462 and four TDs in the playoff win.
Smith threw for three scores and ran for one in that game, and he would be facing the NFL's lowest-ranked defense if he takes the field Sunday. The Saints have allowed at least 400 yards in all 10 games, but they've held the opposition to an average of 19.0 points in three games this month after allowing 30.9 through October.
They'll be matched up against Frank Gore and the NFL's top rushing offense, with Gore averaging 83.1 of San Francisco's 165.3 yards per game.
The Saints have won the last six regular-season meetings.
|Last Updated: 9/2/2014 3:45:35 AM EST|