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How can the 49ers beat the Saints?

The path to victory may be narrow, but it’s there

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

For the sake of argument, let’s say that you believe the 49ers have a chance against the Saints on Sunday. You’re here reading this right now. You must assume they have some hope. What would that actually look like on the field? That’s the subject of today’s Week 10 preview podcast.

Let’s start on the offense. Basically, do the opposite of what you’ve done in the last two weeks. The 49ers can’t wait until the second quarter (or later) to get on the board. Kyle Shanahan needs to draw something up right out of the gate that will allow the team to move down the field and stick the ball in the endzone. There will actually be fans in the stands, and they’re going to provide the Saints with a little extra juice that they might not have had coming off that big win against Tampa Bay last week. A nice, long, sustained touchdown drive can take the air right out of that building.

How do they do that? Not to steal a phrase, but let the playmakers cook. Note: Nick Mullens, you are not a playmaker. Get the ball to the people that can actually do something with it as fast as possible. Brandon Aiyuk, Richie James, and JaMycal Hasty should have the ball in space as much as possible. Down in the red zone, rely on Jordan Reed’s route-running and Kendrick Bourne’s size to put sevens on the board instead of field goals.

Lastly, please go for it on fourth and short. I have been pleading for Kyle to get more aggressive since last season, and he still has yet to heed my advice. If it’s fourth and short, and you could ask the other team what option they’d prefer, they would choose to punt every time because it guarantees they get the ball. Why, then, would the 49ers want to do exactly what their opponent wants? Underdogs win games because they steal possessions from the other team. Sometimes that’s through turnovers, but it can also be through aggressive play-calling on offense. Let’s see it, Kyle.

Defensively, things are going to get dicey for the 49ers. Alvin Kamara is chewing up yardage this season at 6.6 yards per touch and has already gained more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage this season. Fred Warner is going to be a busy man on Sunday, for sure. Also, does Robert Saleh get crazy and let Jason Verrett shadow Michael Thomas? That would be nice, but I’m not sure we’ll see it.

This would be a good week for Arik Armstead to start earning some of that 85 million dollar contract and actually sack a damn quarterback. I understand that sacks are a poor measure of a pass rusher’s effect on a game, but they’re also not meaningless, either. A couple of well-timed sacks on third down could tilt the game in the 49ers’ favor.

To hear the rest of my plan for a 49ers’ victory on Sunday, listen to the full Week 10 preview episode. If you like it, pound that subscribe button and make my day. Every time you do, an angel gets its wings.