The San Francisco 49ers visit the New Orleans Saints in a week 14 NFC battle. Both teams are plenty talented, and both teams will have their hands full trying to stop the other. Here are the three matchups to watch as the 49ers look to stop the Saints.
There will be a lot to watch on Sunday when the San Francisco 49ers travel to visit the New Orleans Saints. Both offenses have been dynamic. Both defenses have been suffocating.
Who comes out victorious could depend heavily on these three key matchups.
Fred Warner vs. Alvin Kamara
Fred Warner might only be a second-year linebacker, but the young player has been an absolute force on the Niners defense this season. According to Pro Football Focus, Warner has been the leagues best run stopper and the highest ranked linebacker over the last two weeks.
The Saints have one of the league’s most dynamic and versatile running backs, Alvin Kamara. Kamara had 18 total touchdowns in 2018 but has just two total touchdowns this season. Nevertheless, the running back must be accounted for.
Warner will need to shut Kamara down to make this matchup easier.
Richard Sherman vs. Michael Thomas
There might not be a player as important to the Saints offense as wide receiver Michael Thomas. Thomas has surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in each of his four seasons with the Saints. With four games still left on the schedule, Thomas on track to have his best season yet.
So how do you stop him?
It should be noted that Thomas believes he is not guardable. Hence, his Twitter handle is “cantguardmike“.
Luckily Richard Sherman, the All-Pro cornerback, is having yet another All-Pro season. Sherman has yet to allow a touchdown while is pass coverage and is allowing just 5.2 yards per target. The goal of locking down Thomas will not be easy. Thomas has been held under 100 yards just five times this season and held under 50 yards just once.
It turns out that finding a way to guard Mike might be pretty important.
The 49ers running backs vs. the Saints defense
An early Christmas gift has been handed to the 49ers. Both Kiko Alonso and A.J. Klein, Saints starting linebackers, will be out against San Francisco. With Niners running back Matt Breida back in the mix, the 49ers running backs should have a favorable matchup against the Saints defense.
San Francisco currently has the league’s second-best rush offense. That would be more exciting if the Saints didn’t have the league’s third-best rush defense.
With Alonso and Klein out, the Niners will have every opportunity for a great ground game on Sunday.
Excluding the game that Raheem Mostert just had against the Baltimore Ravens, the 49ers have not had a single running back go over 100 yards in a game since Week 8 against the Carolina Panthers. To win this game against the Saints, the 49ers will need one of their backs to step up. Although it has been a “win by committee” approach all season, the 49ers should look to Matt Breida to chew up this Saints defense.
The 49ers visit the Saints on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 1 p.m. ET.