The 49ers head to New Orleans this weekend to face the Saints in a rematch of last year's division championship instant classic. In case you are a new 49ers fan or were buried under a rock, the 49ers won a thrilling 36-32 playoff victory over the Saints last January. The 49ers jumped on top early, but had to battle back in what turned into a crazy shootout at Candlestick Park. Alex Smith ran in a QB keeper for a go-ahead touchdown, and then had to rally the 49ers in the closing minute, winning the game on a connection with Vernon Davis.
A few weeks ago, this game was starting to look like a potential "no big deal" matchup with the Saints struggling to get anything going in the wake of their bounty suspensions. However, the Saints have now won three straight games and climbed back to .500. They sit at 5-5 following wins at home against the Eagles and Falcons, followed by a road win over the Raiders. The Saints are one back of the wild-card leading Seattle Seahawks, so their playoff potential perked up considerably in the last few weeks.
As always, here are some of the more interesting random tidbits heading into Sunday's game. The most interesting numbers as far as I'm concerned are the Saints defensive rankings. Whether looking at traditional or advanced stats, the Saints possess a fairly awful defense. Which ever quarterback the 49ers decide to roll with, this Saints defense is ripe for the picking.
49ers head coach Jim harbaugh was an offensive assistant with the Oakland Raiders (2002-03) at the same time that Saints offensive line/running game coach Aaron Kromer was the offensive line coach for the Raiders.
49ers secondary coach Ed Donatell and Saints defensive line coach Bill Johnson were on the same staff from 2004-06 with the Atlanta Falcons. Donatell was the defensive coordinator and Johnson held the same position. Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi was also with the Falcons in 2006 as a defensive assistant.
49ers-New Orleans Connections
49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio spent nine seasons as linebackers coach for the Saints (1986-94).
49ers assistant secondary coach Greg Jackson played safety for the Saints in 1996. He also spent three seasons as the defensive backs coach at Louisiana-Monroe (2004-06).
49ers C Jonathan Goodwin played for the Saints from 2006-10. He was selected to the Pro Bowl following the 2009 season and was a member of the Saints Super Bowl XLIV championship team.
49ers DT ricky Jean Francois played in 25 games (9 starts) at LSU and was named the 2007 BCS National Championship Game Defensive MVP in LSU's win over Ohio State.
New Orleans-Nor Cal Connections
Saints running backs coach Bret Ingalls is from San Jose, CA.
Saints DT Akiem Hicks is from Fair Oaks, CA, and attended Del Campo High School.
Strong 49ers performances vs. Saints
- David Akers: Connected on 3 for 3 FGs and 3 PATs for 12 pts. vs. NO (1/14/12) (NFC- D).
- Vernon Davis: Recorded 7 receptions for 180 yds. and 2 TDs on the day vs. NO (1/14/12) (NFC-D). His 180 rec. yds. were the most by a TE in NFL postseason history for a single-game. The 180 rec. yds. were the 2nd most in a single postseason game in franchise history (WR Jerry Rice- 215 rec. yds. vs. Cin. - SB XIII). Down 3 pts. with just 1:32 remaining, Davis caught a game-winning 14-yd. TD pass from QB Alex Smith.
- Dashon Goldson: Picked off Saints QB Drew Brees and returned it 41 yds. to the Saints 4-yd. line vs. NO (1/14/12) (NFC-D). Three plays later, QB Alex Smith connected with WR Michael Crabtree on a 4-yd. TD pass. Goldson also notched 13 tackles on the day.
- Alex Smith: Completed 24 of 42 atts. for 299 yds., 3 TDs and a QB rating of 103.2 vs. NO (NFC-D) (1/14/12). He also registered a 28-yd. TD run late in the 4th qtr. Down 3 points with just 1:32 to play in the game, Smith led the 49ers on a 7-play, 85-yd. drive that was capped off by a 14- yd. TD pass to TE Vernon Davis.
- Donte Whitner: On the Saints first drive of the game, forced a RB Pierre Thomas fumble on the 49ers 2-yd. line, which was recovered by LB Patrick Willis vs. NO (NFC-D) (1/14/12).
Series record: 49ers lead series 46-24-2
49ers away record vs. Saints: 49ers lead series 23-13
First Meeting: 10/22/67, 49ers win 27-13, at SF
Last Meeting: 1/14/12, 49ers win 36-32, at SF (d)
Current Streak: Won 1
Longest 49ers win Streak: 8 (9/15/74 - 11/27/77)
Longest Saints win Streak: 6 (10/20/02 - 9/20/10)
Most 49ers Points: 42 (11/22/93): 42-7, at SF
Most Saints Points: 43 (11/23/69): 43-38, at NO|
49ers Shutouts: 5, last 1/6/02, 49ers win 38-0, at NO
Saints Shutouts: None
|49ERS (rank)||SAINTS (rank)|
|7-2-1 (1st NFCW)||Record||5-5 (3RD NFCS)|
|24.5 (13th)||Points per game||28.7 (t-4th)|
|364.8 (13th)||Total Offense||391.3 (5th)|
|165.5 (1st)||Rushing Offense||94.9 (26th)|
|199.3 (27th)||Passing Offense||296.4 (2nd)|
|30:57 (10th)||Possession Avg||26:41 (t-31st)|
|13.4 (1st)||Points allowed/gm||27.3 (27th)|
|277.2 (2nd)||Total Defense||462.8 (32nd)|
|94.3 (6th)||Rushing Defense||157.8 (32nd)|
|182.9 (2nd)||Passing Defense||305.0 (31st)|
|23 (T-16th)||Sacks||24 (t-14th)|
|46.8 (15th)||Punting Avg (Gross)||50.3 (2nd)|
|+6 (10th)||Turnover Differential||+2 (12th)|