What may be the most diametrically opposed concepts of football is going to be taking place in San Francisco, a city that ruined my psyche with it’s plethora of drugs, bums, and general aimlessness. This weekend will not be aimless. It has already been lamely compared to “objects in motion stay in motion until they hit immovable forces”, blah blah blah. OK. Here’s what this all breaks down to. Alex Smith not getting his head removed from his shoulders. Why in God’s name would Greg Williams have any respect for Alex Smith, or the big boi on slow legs Frank Gore? Sure the Saints might get beat down the middle a few times, but the Saints know for a fact that they can turn around and put up 14 before anyone knows what happened. You’ll see.
You’ll go out to smoke a cigarette, Alex Smith marching down the field with some counters, a little play action, and even a few comebacks out of the spread, ball is on the 30. Then what happens? Saints score 10 points. Huh? Yep. Alex Smith gets sacked on the Saints 20, Drew Brees runs a draw for 20 yards and all of the sudden Jimmy Graham gets loose down the seam because the two linebackers are trying to spy over the middle. Easy stuff.
Where this game may get interesting is when Brees gets into 3rd and long, which will happen less than 5 times the entire game. Mark my words. The Saints are going to keep things interesting, two tight end sets, play action, shovel passes to Sproles, and the occasional power run set. The Saints don’t want to overpower the 49ers, they want to outsmart them. The Saints are fencing and the 49ers want a street fight. You don’t get points for punching in fencing.
If Mark Ingram was in this game, it’s not even close. The Saints would stuff it until someone gets knocked backwards, and then the play action is at it’s deadliest. But he’s not in, and Pierre Thomas isn’t going to try to run into Aldon Smith on a regular basis.
What I fear, and what will probably happen, is that if the Saints get desperate and it’s a low scoring game, then the first down hail mary will rear its ugly head and the Saints will somehow gain 60 yards without a completion. It’s the ace in the hole for Sean Payton, and Sean Payton likes poker. Will it make 49ers fans fume with rage for the next week and a half?
I really don’t know if San Francisco, as a city, cares about this game. I’ve been there. I spent a week and didn’t see a single jersey. Given, it wasn’t football season, but I have a hard time envisioning the Castro aglow with red jerseys and vicious drunks. Which is why the team should be permanently moved to Alcatraz and people should have to swim for their lives to see the game if they don’t want to pay the price of admission. Sure, a few people wouldn’t make it, but those who do would make even Raiders fans weep tears of joy.
Jesus, where have I gone with this. Too many nights spent staring at swirling patterns on my hotel room bunk bed, 18 year old street fights, and general madness. I know I wrote about the breakdown of Alex Smith, and he may in fact sneak out of here alive, but there’s only one chance for that, and it’s turnovers. Multiple turnovers. The 49ers can’t slow the Saints down to a crawl, no one can. They’re gonna have to do a job of disguising plays that makes Rex Ryan’s last playoff scheme against the Patriots look like 3 box play calling in Madden. Screw Gameflow. I’m rooting for the 49ers, and I’d like to see the NFC West raise themselves from the murk and get interesting. And I like linebackers, just not Jonathan Vilma. Because he, like many others, proved the Jets are inept at keeping talent. So there it is, I like the mud of the 49ers and I’m still trying to find reasons to not give up on the Jets for good. I got rid of the Knicks a week ago, and I’m on Step 7 of recovery.