The final injury reports were released, and depending on which of the questionable people are playing, the matchups will be rather intriguing.
49ers Pass Rush vs. Saints offensive line
The Saints will be without starting left guard Jamar Nesbit, center Jonathan Goodwin is questionable and left tackle Jammal Brown is probable after being limited in practice all week. For the 49ers, the pass rushing is starting to gain some traction as we've seen the likes of Parys Haralson and Roderick Green step up and make plays. Justin Smith will continue to be moved all around the field to create matchup havoc. And of course the impact of Manny Lawson is unknown at this point since we have no idea what defense the 49ers will roll out. I'd say that more 3-4/4-3 than nickel/dime would make sense, but after the Seahawks game, who knows what will happen.
Either way, I think this is one area the 49ers may have the advantage. If Drew Brees gets enough time he'll absolutely pick apart the 49ers defense. Once again, I'd let the corners play man-to-man and come with an extra blitzer to create havoc in the backfield.
Whomever v. Reggie Bush
Although it's only a guess, I think it's safe to say somebody will be spying Reggie Bush the entire game. Bush has absolutely shredded the 49ers in his short career, but the 49ers might finally have the talent to contain him...at least somewhat. The two primary options for defending Bush would be either sticking a DB on him all game, or going with Manny Lawson for the first ten yards and a DB thereafter.
Personally, I think this is a perfect opportunity to unleash Dashon Goldson in a one-on-one situation. He's listed as questionable this week but it sounds like he'll be able to play. The other options is running a cross between zone and man on Bush. Lawson would cover him in the first five or ten yards and then hands him off to a DB for the rest of the field. The problem with that is confusion could result leaving just enough of a hole for Bush to run wild. This is the most intriguing matchup of the day in my opinion.
49ers Receivers vs. Saints secondary
Bryant Johnson is questionable for Sunday and I'd imagine is a game-time decision. Randall Gay is also questionable due to a hamstring injury and has been limited by the injury since week 1. If Gay is out Mike McKenzie gets the start opposite Tracy Porter.
If Johnson is sitting for the 49ers, I'm honestly not sure who would start opposite Isaac Bruce. Arnaz Battle has settled in as the #3 receiver, so it's entirely reasonable to see Jason Hill or Josh Morgan starting opposite Bruce. Hill has been getting more time on special teams, but he showed some impressive skills in the preseason. I'd like to see either of the two get a little more playing time, but for my own personal benefit I've got Josh Morgan starting in one fantasy league where week 4 byes are killing me. A quality game from Morgan would certainly be all the more beneficial.
One other brief point on the passing game is the effectiveness of Vernon Davis. There has been plenty of discussion about Vernon Davis and his issues with catching the ball. However, folks seem to agree that Davis's speed has been sufficient to at least spread out the defense and open up holes underneath. The counter would be that eventually they might let Davis roam a little more free, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. He makes big plays on the short passes so I'd imagine there is still the worry about what he could do catching balls up top. Hopefully we'll see Davis explode tomorrow at the Superdome, but as long as he's being covered, hopefully the underneath remains open.