A matchup that has previously brought some incredibly close offensive shootouts. Now looks like a real David vs. Goliath situation for the Saints to overcome. For them to do so, they need to find a way not to get dominated in these three matchups.
Saints Tackles Vs Nick Bosa
The Saints should be back to full strength on the o-line minus starting center Erik McCoy who is still on IR. After starting a completely makeshift left side of the line against the Rams. With the makeshift line, the Saints proved they could scheme a great game plan to stop one of the league’s best, Aaron Donald.
They need to do the same this week against a ferocious 49ers pass rush, led again but one of the best in the league Nick Bosa. Bosa has rushed the passer 279 times which ranks as only the 46th most in the league, but he is still ranked tied for third in the league with 50 QB pressures per PFF. for perspective, his 50 QB pressures is more than the Saints leading pass rushers combined, Cam Jordan (24) and Marcus Davenport (23).
Those stats should illustrate Bosa’s sheer dominance against the pass, and he can be just a disruptive against the run, which does not bode well for the Saints offense. The game plan and execution of the offense is going to need to be perfect this week for the Saints to have the success required to win this game.
Saints Defense Vs YAC
Anyone who’s been watching the Saints defense this year knows that one of the biggest problems with this unit is missed tackles. The Saints defense, per PFF, has missed a massive 99 tackles so far this season. For comparison, the Saints defense a year ago missed 133 tackles. Extrapolate the 99 missed tackles so far over 17 games would equal 153 missed tackles on the year.
I highlight these missed tackles so significantly because if they can’t tackle well in this game, the 49ers’ offense will punish that more than other teams might. San Fran’s strength in the passing game is yards after the catch (YAC). See the YAC stats for the 49ers top five reception leaders.
- Brandon Aiyuk; 46 receptions, averaging 5.3 YAC per reception.
- Deebo Samuel; 40 receptions, averaging 8.9 YAC per reception (wow).
- George Kittle; 33 receptions, averaging 6.8 YAC per reception.
- Christian McCaffrey; 21 receptions, averaging 8.7 YAC per reception.
- Jauan Jennings; 18 receptions, averaging 6.3 YAC per reception.
It’s not unusual for stud pass-catching backs to have high YAC numbers, but for players like Deebo and Kittle to be averaging what they are is flat-out scary for this Saints defense. For context of how good these numbers are. Here are the Saints three leaders in receptions outside of RBs. (Chris Olave, Juwan Johnson, and Jarvis Landry) YAC per reception.
- Chris Olave; 51 receptions, averaging 2.7 YAC per reception.
- Juwan Johnson; 31 receptions, averaging 3.6 YAC per reception.
- Jarvis Landry; 21 receptions, averaging 2.3 YAC per reception.
The 49ers offense is built around this ability and is part of the reason they acquire certain players to fit this kind of passing offense. Deebo Samuel alone nearly gets an extra first down’s worth of yardage per catch.
The Saints improved slightly last week but still missed far too many tackles, and if that continues this week, then it’s likely to be a long day for the Saints.
Taysom Hill Vs The 49ers Stingy Defense
The 49ers have the best defense in the league; if they aren’t first, it’s pretty close. They have allowed the fewest rushing yards and allowed the lowest yards per carry in the league. They rank seventh in the league in passing yards allowed.
I already detailed Nick Bosa’s dominance earlier. Unfortunately for the Saints he’s not alone. The 49ers boast one of the best pass rushes in the league, have two excellent linebackers ( Warner and Greenlaw), and a stellar secondary led by standout CB Charvarius Ward who’s played at a pro-bowl level, so far this year and second-year breakout safety Talanoa Hufanga.
The 49ers have all the tools to make it very difficult for the Saints to use the ‘Taysom Hill’ package effectively. For the Saints to have a chance to win this game, that package needs to be effective, and Taysom needs to be on the field making plays.
I discussed the link between Hill’s success and the Saints in my recap of the Saints win Vs. the Rams.
So I won’t rehash that here, but in essence, the Saints are 3-1 in games where Hill has had 10+ snaps at QB and 3-0 when he’s had nine or more rushing attempts in the game. So Hill’s success/usage this season is directly linked to how the Saints perform.
Therefore, the Saints have to make sure not to abandon plays with Taysom if they fall behind like we’ve seen plenty of times this season, and make sure to have a varied and creative gameplan in place to keep the defense from loading the box as soon as Taysom is in at QB because that will not result in success for the Saints against a defense as talented as the 49ers.
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