49ers @ Saints live blog: Pregame

NEW ORLEANS — This is the live blog for the pregame of the 49ers’ Week 11 game against the Saints. I’ll update this frequently with information and analysis from the press box.

These are the keys to the game for the 49ers:

1. Don’t get into a chess match with the Saints’ defense. Don’t call audibles. If Colin Kaepernick audibles, Rob Ryan’s defense will audible as well, so Kaepernick’s audible won’t be helpful. Plus, the stadium will be too loud. The 49ers should package their plays to have run-pass options, like a weakside lead packaged with a split end slant and a Y-Stick pattern. That way, Kaepernick can make silent audibles and not have to reset the blocking scheme. If Roman makes his offensive linemen think, they’re in trouble. Rob Ryan thrives on confusing offensive linemen and making them miss their blocking assignments.

2. The 49ers’ offense needs early success for confidence, especially Kaepernick. If Kaepernick and the offense come out flat in the first quarter, the Superdome crowd will get lathered up. So, during the first few plays Greg Roman should not call a “shot play”, or an “aw, shoot play,” where the quarterback throws deep, the ball hits the turf and the coaches say, “Aw, shoot.” Roman needs to give Kaepernick easy throws to build his confidence and Roman needs to roll Kaepernick out of the pocket. The 49ers need to get two or three first downs per drive to keep the Saints’ offense off the field.

3. The 49ers don’t need to carry 8 or 9 runs in their game plan. They just need 2 – power off tackle and the weakside lead. The Saints play a 46-defense, so the 49ers should use their Tiger set – 22 personnel – and run away from the strong safety every time. If Vernon Davis is not effective or cannot play, the 49ers should use a three-wide-receiver and two-running-back formation, that way every run is a weakside run.

11:06 Did you know Bruce Miller is the 49ers’ third-leading receiver?

11:54 Vernon Davis and Eric Reid are active and starting, apparently. The 49ers’ inactives are McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Nick Moody, Joe Looney, Garrett Celek, Ray McDonald and Tank Carradine. Demarcus Dobbs will start in place of McDonald.

11:56 The Saints’ inactives are Ryan Griffin, Khiry Robinson, Kenny Vaccaro, Rod Sweeting, Terron Armstead, Tyrunn Walker and Benjamin Watson. Rafael Bush will start for Vaccaro.

11:59 Drew Brees is throwing passes and working on his footwork in the pocket. Kaepernick is running sprints.

12:49 The last time the 49ers faced Sean Payton, Darren Sproles had 15 catches for 119 yards and 1 TD, and Jimmy Graham had 5 catches for 103 yards and 2 TDs.

  1. This is the type of game where the coaches really earn their money. They better have this team prepared and ready to go. The Saints are going to come out attacking as usual.

  2. The 46 defense is vulnerable to the passing game. In between those power runs off tackle, receivers will be open downfield off play action. Kaepernick becomes Kaepurnicus again in this game…..

  3. What is up with Rob Ryan? He was never considered a great defensive coordinator, he is overrated just like Roman is. He lost against the mighty Jets, he sucked in Dallas but all head coaches and coordinators suck in Dallas in the 21st century.

    1. He is not a great defensive coordinator, but his scheme poses problems for a quarterback who “still has an element of seeing things for the first time,” especially in a loud dome.

      1. Grant,

        It would be a amusing question, if you asked that question to Kaep. ” How tough is it for seeing things for the first time”? Since Kaep hates the media, he would probably squirrel around it. Then you can ask him, since you only care about what people think inside the building, how does that affect you, since it came from Roman.

      2. Razor,

        I would expect Kaep to skirt around it, will say something like this. I am really working hard and I just care about winning.I wished he would say, ” Roman is seeing things for the first time too.

  4. I agree with your assessment- essentially the same formula that needs to be taken to Seattle as well per keeping it basic and getting the ball out on short routes too if Saints get aggressive, which should be a given provided Kaps struggles to make quick reads.

    Are we to assume Vernon is cleared to play?

  5. Niners will win. Kap will make a few throws and the offensive live will wear down and road grade the Saints defensive front. We will win, but it will be close and ugly.

  6. Today’s Tecmo Bowl stats:
    Matt Stafford: 267 yards 2 TD
    Calvin Johnson: 163 yards 2 TD

    These numbers are only from the second quarter of their game today against Pittsburgh, which is insane. Fast break football. Johnson is the closest you can get to unstoppable in an NFL player.

  7. Grant, how confident are you regarding your prediction that the Niners will lose? You were spot on last week, I am just curious.
    Thanks Jason

    1. I’m confident. The 49ers’ offense scored 17 points last season in the Superdome, and that was with Crabtree and Walker. I can’t see the 49ers scoring 17 or more points in this game without those two players, and that’s a problem.

      1. I have a brand new Large ND shirt in hand ready for shipment. Advise me when you have a used, torn up and discolored t shirt of any distinction that you can find to place your “gentleman’s” bet with…..

  8. Grant – I told you a couple weeks ago Philly would win NFC East…. how do you like me now?
    Btw, UCLA signed top 10 hoops recruit Kevon Looney 2 days ago! He’s compared to Kevin Durant.

      1. Looney quote “UCLA is the most beautiful campus he’s ever seen.” Not sure how many campuses he has seen though :).
        Big game vs Duke at Madison Square Garden Dec. 14……..back to football before someone starts whining.

  9. If the 49ers have any visions of returning to the Super Bowl they need to beat some teams with winning records, which they haven’t had much success with this season. Need to step up today.

  10. not a bad plan, moving Kaepnernick’s first reads to the weakside since the defense will probably focus on Vernon and Boldin. here are the drawbacks:

    1. instead of moving around Davis and Boldin to try to free up your playmakers, you’re trying to feature less established receiving options.

    2. the split end will probably be facing heavier press coverage. which makes beating coverage for a short stick pattern harder than it would be for a flanker or Tight End who has the added advantage of the other drawing away coverage.

    on a technical note, a weakside stick pattern by the split end wouldn’t be a Y-Stick. Y indicates the Tight End which is how it is often run on the strongside. a weakside stick play would work better if the fullback or H-back goes out in the flat to draw away coverage. if they want to keep doing these kinds a plays, another basic WCO staple would be a snag concept on that side. might be able to get the triangle stretch by motioning either Vernon (which would switch the strength of the formation) or Boldin (into a twins formation).

    Those “easy throws” aren’t there as much since the defense will probably be crowding the the line of scrimmage and pressing the receivers.

    I’m not saying it’s a bad idea but there are other issues at play.

  11. Timeout to run a play that has no chance to get a first. I’m confused to what’s going on. 1:30 in and already pullin my hair. Defense has to win this.

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