By: Phillip Torres
SANTA CLARA- The San Francisco 49ers (4-4) will visit the New Orleans Saints (4-4) on Sunday afternoon. The game is between two teams that feel as if they should both be better than 4-4 on the season. San Francisco and New Orleans both had high expectations coming into the season and a .500 record is not what both respective teams expected.
The 49ers are coming off of a very disappointing 13-10 loss to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. Coming out of a Bye Week and playing a sub par team in the Rams, the 49ers were expected to blow the Rams right out of Santa Clara. The offense struggled to move the ball throughout the game and the offensive line had its worst game in years. The O-Line allowed eight sacks of Colin Kaepernick in the game and they could not get the running game going.
Kaepernick was being hit all day long, and this brings the question Why was a quarterback sneak the call to try and win the game in the fourth quarter? With 19 seconds remaining in the game and the ball at the one yard line and a third and one play, Colin Kaepernick fumbles the ball at the goal line, only to be recovered by the Rams in the endzone for a touchback. The safer option would have been to give it to the bell cow in runningback Frank Gore, and then call a timeout if the veteran could not punch it in.
If Gore would have been stopped, the 49ers could have still gone for the field goal attempt, to send the game into Overtime. Although, replays show that Kaepernick broke the plane with the ball, the play was not overruled, and the Rams took a final kneel down to secure their third win of the season.
After the loss, head coach Jim Harbaugh said, “We’re going to take action to improve and to move on to the next ballgame.”
The Saints however are coming off of a 28-0 shutout over the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football. The 49ers are catching the Saints at the wrong time as they coming off of two big wins against two tough opponents. The victory over Carolina and a 44-23 triumph over the Green Bay Packers just two weeks ago. The Saints will also be rested as they will go into Sunday with not having played a game in 10 days.
New Orleans is always a tough feat at home. Three of the Saints four victories this season have been at home. But, the match up seems to be fair on paper as the 49ers third ranked pass defense will be going up against the Saints third ranked passing offense. Only the game will tell how these statistics will fare on Sunday.
One thing that we do know is certain is that All Pro linebacker Aldon Smith will not be back a week early from his suspension. Smith could have been a huge asset to try and pressure quarterback Drew Brees as the 49ers pass rush has not showed up thus far, halfway into the season. Fellow linebacker Patrick Willis will be a game time decision as he tries to return from a toe injury that was sustained in week six at St. Louis. Cornerback Tramaine Brock will also be a game time decision for San Francisco. Brock was limited in practice on Wednesday.
Kickoff will be at 10:00 A.M. Pacific Time at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.