(By Daisy Barringer)
The 6-3 Niners travel to the Big Easy to face off against the 7-2 New Orleans Saints in the (stupid) Superdome on Sunday. (No, I’m not over the Super Bowl loss. Thus that place is stupid. I can attest seeing as I tried to navigate my way to the ladies room in the pitch black during the biggest sporting event in the world.) The Niners lost there in February and, call me a pessimist if you must, but I’m pretty sure they’re going to lose there again on Sunday.
(I’m playing the “Expect the Worst Because Then If The Best Happens It’s So Much Better” game, if you want to join in on the fun. The rules are simple: Expect the worst. Be stoked if it doesn’t happen. Say, “I effing knew it” if it does. Everyone wins. Or loses.)
So yeah. The Niners against the Saints and Drew Brees, the latter who I happen to have on all of my fantasy teams. But don’t worry. I’d rather lose at fantasy and win at life, so I won’t be rooting for him. Rather, I’ll be rooting for a surprising Niners victory. Let’s take a look at how that will—or won’t—happen.
We can’t suck any worse than we did last week?
Aldon Smith is expected to receive a lot more playing time than he did last Sunday.
The Niners find success when they run the damn ball. They did not do this enough against the Panthers. I expect them, once again, to learn from their mistake and run the ball. Especially on first down.
Along those lines, the Saints are actually tied for last in the NFL when it comes to defending the run. Since Kap obviously can’t throw the damn ball, just GIVE IT TO GORE. Or let him run it. I don’t care. Just keep it on the ground unless I say otherwise.
Vernon Davis should play. I know, I know. I just said to keep the ball on the ground, but the Niners are going to have to pass a little bit and VD is the guy to whom to throw it. Apparently his concussion is “mild,” which bodes well for us.
The Saints have the NFL’s second ranked total offense.
The Saints are 5-0 at home.
Darren Sproles and Jimmy Graham. One guy’s good on the ground, the other is good in the air. The Niners must contain them both. And they need to put a ton of pressure on Drew Brees. Sorry to state the obvious, but it needs to be said.
Michael Crabtree is still sidelined with an injury. I don’t know if more guys to pass to would actually help the struggling Kaepernick, but it couldn’t hurt.
DT Ray McDonald (high ankle sprain) is not going to play. (They haven’t announced this yet, but I'm just gonna go ahead and call it.) His replacement, Tony Jerod-Eddie, has never started a game. Just as a reminder—we’re facing one of the best offenses in the league. Yay.
Eric Reid. The rookie safety says he’s feeling fine, but this is his second concussion this season and cause for real concern. He was apparently symptom free on Wednesday, but I think we all agree that it might not be in his best interest to play on Sunday. I want this guy on the Niners for many years to come. If he has to sit out one game, I’m totally okay with that.
The Niners play calling. I blame, Kap, for sure. But COME ON GREG ROMAN. Live a little!
The Rest of It
The Niners Defense is going to have to win this game. The offense simply cannot do it. It’s up to the front seven and the secondary. OUR FATE IS IN THEIR HANDS. (Sorry, I'm watching #SFBatKid while I write this and getting a little carried away while I wipe away my tears.)
WR Kyle Williams found a new home in Kansas City. I think it’s best for the Niners that he’s no longer on the team, but, despite his struggles, I wish him all of the best. Although if he starts catching tons of passes from Alex Smith, I’m going to be slightly annoyed.
Trent Dilfer “insulted” Kaepernick this week by calling his play “remedial” when he has to move past his first pass option. I’m not really in the mood to defend Kap these days, but I will say that he seems to play better after being criticized or having a really bad game. Let’s not count on this, but rather hope for it.
So yeah. I’m not too optimistic, but it’s always nice to be pleasantly surprised. This one is going to be a battle. I hope the Niners come out victorious. A loss will be devastating to our hopes for the rest of the season.
Watch San Francisco at NEW ORLEANS on Sunday at 1:25 p.m. on FOX.