49ers vs Saints 2011 NFL Preseason Week 1 Preview
The San Francisco 49ers will start the Jim Harbaugh era when they square off against the New Orleans Saints on Friday night in the Big Easy. While the 49ers have not acquired a new quarterback, they did add Braylon Edwards to their receiving corps. Alex Smith will lead the 49ers in the first few series’ of the game, which means that we may see rookie QB, Colin Kaepernick, get some snaps with the offense. The Saints on the other hand, are very set at quarterback, with Drew Brees calling the plays under center. Although Reggie Bush is no longer with the team, the Saints are going to be stacked at the running back position this year.
Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram will be two of the Saints’ four qualified running backs, with Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas sure to get plenty of touches as well. The 49ers are going to have a lot of trouble against the Saints because they are going to have to deal with Sean Payton’s explosive playbook. The Saints just have so many options on offense and that it won’t matter if they have their first second or third string players on the field. The 49er offense is the other way around. They have talented options at wide receiver, with Braylon Edwards and Michael Crabtree slated to be the pass catching combination for San Francisco. When you add tight end Vernon Davis to the mix, the Niners have all the potential to put up big points this season.
In a very weak NFC West, the Niners are favored to win the division. I don’t think it will happen, but Alex Smith could respond a lot differently with a new head coach calling the shots. On defense, the Niners lost Takeo Spikes to the Chargers, but picked up Antwan Applewhite from San Diego as well. The team still has one of the best LB’s in the NFL in Patrick Willis, so there’s not much competition there. The fact that this game will be played in the Superdome will benefit New Orleans in more ways than one. Yes, they will be playing in front of their home fans, but the fact that the game will be played on turf is going to make the speedy Saints’ receivers even harder to shadow.
Thank goodness that there are no real implications in this game, because it is going to get ugly for San Francisco. The Saints are favored by 3 points and I think that they will easily cover. Preseason games are usually on the low-scoring side, so with the point total set at 35.5, look for the under to be the winning play here. For the Saints, it’s all about keeping things basic and getting the rookies playing time. They don’t need to see a whole lot from their starters to feel good about them, and that fits right in with how the preseason usually goes. So while the 49ers might spend more time with the starters because they’ve had a short offseason with a new system, the Saints will be able to afford preserving their starters on Friday night.