49ers vs. Saints Preview: The History, Numbers and Connections Behind the Game


Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

In Week 11, the San Francisco 49ers face their first must win game of the season. After a disappointing loss last week, the 49ers cannot afford to lose any more games. Each loss from here on out diminishes San Francisco’s chances of making the playoffs.

The task will not be easy as the 49ers travel to New Orleans to take on Drew Brees and the Saints. Last week, the Saints put a beat down on the Dallas Cowboys, winning 42-17. New Orleans’ record stands at 7-2 and they are in first place in the NFC South.

In order for San Francisco to pull off the win the passing game needs to play at a top-notch level. That will be harder for Colin Kaepernick if tight end Vernon Davis and wide receiver Mario Manningham are out because of injuries. Either way, the offensive line needs to do a better job of giving Kaepernick time go through his progressions and throw. When the 49ers offensive line allows two or fewer sacks in a game, the team has a 22-1 under Jim Harbaugh in the regular season.

Brees and his offense may get all of the attention, but the Saints defense has shown to be one of the best in the NFL this season. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has turned the Saints into the sixth best defense in the league. With his mix of using different formations and blitzes from every angle, the Saints are ranked third against the pass.

The History

This marks the 74th matchup between the teams with the 49ers leading the all time series 47-24-2. San Francisco has won each of the last two meetings, including a 31-21 victory in New Orleans last year. The last time the 49ers played in the Superdome was not against the Saints. The Superdome was the site of Super XLVII.

The most memorable game against the Saints was the recent NFC Divisional Game that featured touchdowns from Vernon Davis and Alex Smith to win the game. In his best game as a Niner, Smith engineered two scoring drives in the final minutes. It was redemption to all his critics, including me, who said he was bust and could not come through in the clutch.  He ran for a huge 28-yard touchdown that was a defining moment of his career. The 49ers were trailing 24-23 with 2:18 left in the game before Smith ran in for a touchdown. The 29-24 lead seemed like it would be enough to win with the way the defense had been playing.  But Brees answered back 34 seconds later with a 66-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham. Watching Graham break two tackles, then run all alone for the go-ahead TD was shattering.

But Vernon Davis and the 49ers answered with a game-winning touchdown catch. With nine seconds remaining, Davis caught the game-winning touchdown pass from Smith, which has been referred to as “Vernon Post,” “The Grab,” and “The Catch III.”

Matchups: 73

Series Record: 49ers lead series 47-24-2

49ers Home Record vs. Saints: 49ers lead series 23-11-2

49ers Away Record vs. Saints: 49ers lead series 24-13

First Meeting: 10/22/67, 49ers win 27-13, at SF

Last Meeting: 11/25/12, 49ers win 31-21, at NO

Current Streak: Won 2

Longest 49ers Win Streak: 8 (9/15/73 – 11/27/77)

Longest Saints Win Streak: 6 (10/20/02 – 9/20/10)

Most 49ers Points: 42 (11/22/93): 49ers win 42-7, at SF

Most Saints Points: 43 (11/23/69): Saints win 43-38, at NO

49ers Shutouts: 5 (Last 1/6/02), 49ers win 38-0, at NO

Saints Shutouts: None

Series History:

The Numbers

  • 3: Number of sacks registered by LB Ahmad Brooks last week
  • 4: CB Tramaine Brock leads the 49ers with four interceptions this season
  • 13: On kickoffs, San Francisco has forced opponents to start their drives inside the 20-yard line 13 times, 2nd best in the NFL
  • 1,389: Difference in passing yards this season between Drew Brees (3,064) and Colin Kaepernick (1,675)
  • 29.4: Average amount of points scored per game by the Saints this season, which is 2nd best in the NFL
  • 17.2: Average amount of points allowed per game by the 49ers, which is 4th best in the NFL
  • 2: Kaepernick has thrown all nine of his touchdowns this season to two players, Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis
  • 7: The Saints defense has seven players with at least one interception
  • 5: San Francisco has a 5-3 record during the regular season under Jim Harbaugh when playing in a dome
  • 20: Number of wins all-time the 49ers have playing at the Superdome, 20-11 record
  • 50: In last season’s matchup, Ahmad Brooks recorded his 1st TD of his career after picking off Drew Brees for a 50-yard score.
  • 27: The 49ers are 27-7 when Frank Gore rushes for 100 yards or more
  • 180: During the NFC Divisional game in 2012 against New Orleans, Vernon Davis had 180 receiving yards, the most by a tight end in NFL postseason history
  • 1: Kaepernick had his first career game with both a rushing TD and passing TD against the Saints last season
  • 14: The 49ers have 14 rushing plays of 20-or-more yards, ranking 4th in NFL
  • 88: San Francisco’s defense has scored 88 points off of 18 turnovers, ten touchdowns and six field goals
  • 24: The 49ers defense has allowed only 24 plays of 20-or-more yards, 2nd in the league
  • 81: In a game in the 1969 season, the 49ers (38) and Saints (43) combined for 81 points. The points are tied for second most all-time in 49ers history.

2013 COMPARISON

49ERS (rank)     SAINTS (rank)

6-3 (2nd NFCW) Record 7-2 (1st NFCS)

25.2 (t-10th) Points Per Game 29.4 (2nd)

321.6 (22nd) Total Offense 422.7 (2nd)

147.7 (4th) Rushing Offense 97.8 (23rd)

173.9 (32nd) Passing Offense 324.9 (2nd)

29:59 (16th) Possession Average 33:39 (2nd)

17.2 (4th) Points Allowed Per Game 18.1 (5th)

316.8 (6th) Total Defense 317.6 (7th)

105.3 (12th) Rushing Defense 117.7 (23rd)

211.4 (9th) Passing Defense 199.9 (3rd)

21 (t-22nd) Sacks 29 (t-8th)

10 (t-14th) Interceptions 9 (t-16th)

48.6 (3rd) Punting Avg. (Gross) 46.1 (12th)

+4 (t-9th) Turnover Differential +5 (t-7th)

 The Connections

  • From 1986 to 1994, 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was the Saints linebackers coach. He coached the “Dome Patrol” which featured one of the greatest collections of linebackers in NFL history.
  • Niners center Jonathan Goodwin spent five years with Saints, from 2006-2010.
  • Defensive line Glenn Dorsey was born in Baton Rogue, LA, and attended Louisiana State from 2005-2007.
  • 49ers WR Quinton Patton attended Louisiana Tech.
  • San Francisco safety Eric Reid born in Baton Rogue, LA, and attended Louisiana State from 2010-2012.
  • On December 5, 2010, Niners linebacker Dan Skuta made his first-career start against the Saints. He was playing with the Cincinnati Bengals at the time.
  • 49ers wide receivers John Morton served as an offensive assistant with the Saints in 2006.
  • Saints center Brian de la Puente went to University of California. He was on the 49ers practice squad in 2008 and 2010.
  • New Orleans outside linebacker Parys Haralson played for the 49ers from 2006-2012.
  • From 2007-2010, Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan attended University of California.
  • Saints head coach Sean Payton was born in San Mateo, CA.
  • Saints wide receivers coach Henry Ellard was born in Fresno, CA.

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