Will Jimmy Garoppolo keep rolling? Five burning questions for 49ers vs Saints

It is moving time in the NFL.

With only seven weeks left to play we will begin to see a separation between the true contenders and pretenders.

For the San Francisco 49ers (6-4) this stretch begins when they take on the New Orleans Saints (4-7) Sunday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium.

San Francisco will play five of their final seven at home and never leave the Pacific time zone. This does not mean the schedule will be easy as four of the 49ers next five games will be against teams fighting for a playoff spot.

Here are my five things to watch for on Sunday against New Orleans.

  1. Will Jimmy Garoppolo stay hot?

Garoppolo matched a career high with four touchdown passes against the Arizona Cardinals. The 49ers signal caller hit this milestone three times in 2019 on the way to a spot in the Super Bowl.

On Sunday he will be facing a New Orleans defense which has allowed only 13 touchdown passes this season to go along with only 5.8 net yards per pass attempt, eighth best in the NFL.

The 49ers offensive line is going to have its hands full with the New Orleans pass rush.

Led by Cameron Jordan, long with linebacker Demario Davis and Kaden Elliss the Saints have recorded a sack on 8.58 percent of drop backs, sixth best in the NFL.

  1. Can the 49ers offense keep the run game churning?

While the New Orleans defense has done a good job against the pass this season, they have struggled against the run. Coming into Sunday, the Saints have allowed the tenth most rushing yards per attempt, 4.6.

This plays into the strength of a 49ers offense which is coming off its most explosive game on the ground this season. The Niners starters averaged 6.8 yards per carry against Arizona on Monday night.

San Francisco has gained 157 and 159 yards on the ground the last two weeks thanks in large part to the return of Elijah Mitchell.

Making his way back after suffering a knee injury in week one, Mitchell has averaged 5.48 yards per attempt as part of a three headed attack along with Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel.

  1. Can the 49ers defense slow down Andy Dalton?

Don’t let the Saints record fool you, their offense is potent.

Working with Chris Olave, Alvin Kamara and Juwan Johnson, Dalton has thrown 14 touchdown passes in just eight games.

The trio gives New Orleans a passing game which can attack every level of a defense.

Only a rookie, Olave has impressed by averaging 14.9 yards on 51 receptions. He can take the top off the defense.

Kumara and Johnson team up to stress the underneath coverage of the linebackers and safeties. Despite missing two games, the running back is the Saints second leading receiver with 43 grabs for 385 yards.

Johnson came into the NFL as a wide receiver but has made a successful transition to tight end in 2022. He leads New Orleans in touchdown receptions with five as he has blown past his numbers from the first two seasons.

  1. Will San Francisco be able to stop Tayson Hill?

While Alvin Kamara leads the Saints in rushing yards, Hill’s five rushing touchdowns make him the larger threat in the redzone and in short yardage situations.

Stopping Hill in short yardage situations will help the San Francisco defense avoid extended drives. As with Kamara and Johnson in the passing game, this will put stress on the 49ers linebackers and safeties.

One thing about Hill, he has not proven to be a threat in the passing game. He has been targeted only six times all season.

  1. Which team holds on to the ball?

 For San Francisco, winning the turnover battle is key.

Since the start of 2021, the Niners are 17-3 when they turn the ball over less than or the same as their opponent. When San Francisco has more turnovers than their opponent they are 1-9.

Jimmy Garoppolo has gone three games without an interception for the first time in his career. On Sunday he will face a New Orleans defense which has been able to record only two interceptions this season.

Turnovers have been an issue for the Saints all season.

New Orleans comes into Sunday with a turnover differential of -12. Their 19 turnovers are the third highest in the league and their seven takeaways are the second fewest.


49ers 27 Saints 17

This article has 24 Comments

  1. This Saints team has lost to the Bucs, the Panthers, the Vikings, the Bengals, the Cardinals, the Ravens, and the Steelers. Outside of the Vikings, the is not a list of teams the are currently NFL powerhouses.

    Let’s see who they’ve beat: the Falcons, the Seahawks, the Raiders and the Rams. The Seahawks are about to be exposed as frauds over the next few weeks. The rest are this years trash.

    Yeah, I don’t see this game as being close and I see Andy Dalton as having a very good view of the grass for most of the day…

  2. This game could be the test of the O line that i’ve been waiting for. If they can hold up in pass protection this week I may have to change my mind about a couple of them. I see this game as a trap game, short week after a road game and coming of a game at high altitude. I don’t bet against my team but if I did I would take the Saints and the points.

    1. OC
      To your point on the O line holding up in pass protection:
      * The NO pass rush led by Cameron Jordan, linebacker Demario Davis and Kaden Elliss, have recorded a sack on 8.58 percent of drop backs! They are sixth best in the NFL.
      * I look for the 9er D to limit Dalton and the Saints to <20 points, while the 9ers score 30+…..
      9ers 31, NO 17

  3. Jack,
    I would like to hear your opinion regarding the 49ers possibly resigning Jimmy G. If he continues to play at his current level do you see anyway that they resign him?

    1. Not happening

      1. you need money
      2. we already replaced him as QB1
      3. we get a 3rd when he leaves for FA

    2. Coach… the only way I see that being a possibility and maybe a slight one, is if Jimmy plays this way and guides them to number 6. If that happens then that’s a whole new conversation. My guess would be they would explore a 2 year contract 3 max, and that’s only if Jimmy would take that and skip the long term deal from another team.

    3. I think that Garoppolo gets resigned if he not only gets #6. And/or he plays consistently at the level he has over the last couple of games.

      If Jimmy keeps from making bone headed plays (throwing picks is the obvious example), isn’t horribly inaccurate at 15+ yards down the field and continues to make the occasional play out of structure in his remaining games; I could see him resigned by the 49ers.

  4. Thanks for the drop, Jack.
    I agree with your final score. Dalton has been an inconsistent QB in his career. He can have a great game one week followed by a stinker in the next game. If our pass-rush can get to him early it will render him non-essential. I think that T. Hill will get the lions share at QB.

    Also, Jack, will Danny Gray finally get on the field this Sunday? I’ve been waiting all season to see him catch a deep pass. I see him as the last piece of the puzzle for Shanahan’s explosive offense.

  5. Penalties…it seems, to me at least, that the 9ers have cleaned up their act, so to speak…the nagging penalties that plagued them thru the first half of the season don’t appear to be dragging them down…the 2nd and 4 isn’t turning into 2nd and 14..the 3rd and 2, is staying at 3rd and 2, not 3rd and 7, or 12…this has a big impact the on Kyle’s play calling, and offensive execution since the defenses can’t simply go all in on pass defense and bull rushing Jimmy….the O-line, that was a major question mark early on, doesn’t look so questionable since the team has quit shooting themselves in the both feet

      1. NOBODY!!!
        AES, that 2nd half pounding was a thing of beauty even without the starting RB! JH signature win in this rivalry to date! Man, I love that physical dominant type game.
        One my fav moment is after the game when they wanted to interview JH and he is like neah talk to my bad ass QB and walk away but came back with the star RB and left. JH is always about the players! When they lose is about him but when they win is all about about the players!

        1. Ricardo / Felix
          Next for Michigan… National Championship!
          Best defense in college football. And today their offense was a wrecking ball.

          1. Yes sir! I feel like they match up well with Georgia. This is definitely their best team since the arrival of JH. Would love to see a Niner SB win and Michigan win in the finals in the same year!🙏

  6. Trap game. I see the Niners starting slowly and having to rally in the second half for a relatively narrow win.

    1. allie,
      Happy to take a win even if it’s a narrow one.

      And would like to see DGray get some plays if he’s ready to go.

  7. A burning question that could have been added is. Will the 49ers continue the shutout in the second half to 4 straight games?. I’d like to see that happen again. Along with Jimmy going unboneheaded Jimmy for four straight too.

  8. It all starts with the run game. The Niners either need to establish it; or exploit with the passing game if the Saint’s defense if they over commit to stopping the run.

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