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5 players to watch on the 49ers offense against the Saints

Will the offense keep humming?

San Francisco 49ers v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

All it took was a 38-point outing against a division rival on national television to make it feel like the offense was gaining some momentum. The 49ers have now scored 30 or more points in three of their last six games after failing to do so in their first four games. Next, they’ll face a Saints defense that’s allowed the sixth-most points this season, giving up an average of 24 points per game.

These will be the five players to watch as the 49ers offense looks to lead the team to their fourth-consecutive win:

RB Elijah Mitchell

It took until the 2:16 mark in the second quarter for Elijah Mitchell to see his first snap on Monday night against the Arizona Cardinals. Despite not seeing the field until late in the first half, Mitchell still led the team in rushing attempts and yards for the second consecutive week.

Now Mitchell and the run game take on the Saints and their 22nd-ranked run defense, which has allowed 100 or more rushing yards in their last three games and seven of their 11 games this season. If Mitchell is the lead back on Sunday, as the trend has shown, it could be possible he sees more than the 19 touches he saw against the Chargers, who also struggle against the run, to take advantage of the poor run defense.

RB Christian McCaffrey

McCaffrey has faced no team more in his career than the New Orleans Saints. In his five-plus season with the Panthers, McCaffrey had more total yards against the Saints than any other team, with 809 yards over his eight games against his former division rival.

As was the case against the Rams, McCaffrey has already played the Saints this season when Carolina beat New Orleans back in Week 3, where he finished with 25 rushes for 108 yards, both being season-highs. The 49ers will benefit from McCaffrey’s history against the Saints in his fourth game with the team.

RT Mike McGlinchey

The 49ers' offensive line has played a massive role in Jimmy Garoppolo’s play over the past few weeks, allowing him to be sacked just four times over the last three games after allowing five against the Chiefs. McGlinchey has been up and down but was solid against the Cardinals, allowing only two pressures while facing off against JJ Watt for the majority of the game.

It’s possible McGlinchey will see Cam Jordan on Sunday, who was limited in practice on Wednesday with an orbital fracture he suffered a couple weeks ago. He missed the first game of his career last week against the Rams but is hoping to play against the 49ers. It’ll be another tough matchup for McGlinchey as he looks to continue his good play.

QB Jimmy Garoppolo

We’re in an area where there should be talk about Garoppolo’s recent run of play compared to that of his famous five-game stretch in 2017. Over his last five games, Garoppolo has averaged 260 passing yards with ten touchdowns and three interceptions, completing passes at a 71 percent rate.

What’s been best for the 49ers' offense has been the lack of turnovers from Garoppolo. On Sunday, he’ll face a Saints defense that has forced a turnover on a league-low five percent of their drives. Just like Garoppolo, the Saints' defense hasn’t forced a turnover, let alone an interception their last three games, which could bode well with the form Garoppolo has been in over the last month.

TE George Kittle

After seeing seven targets combined in the two games prior, Kittle saw six on Monday night, catching four for a team-high 84 yards with two touchdowns. It was just the second game of Kittle’s career where he finished with multiple receiving touchdowns.

The last time he had a two-touchdown game, he followed it up with a 13-catch, 151-yard game with a touchdown against the Bengals last season. Kittle’s role in the offense seems to change week-to-week so let’s see if this momentum in the receiving game continues.