No. 4: Could Attrition Hurt the 49ers Secondary?
San Francisco was already short in its defensive backfield entering the contest, missing strong safety Jaquiski Tartt, who was out with a ribs injury.
His replacement, Marcell Harris, managed to force a fumble for the second straight game. But he was also victimized by two of the Saints touchdowns to tight end Jared Cook. Overall, Harris had more than a handful of coverage issues in the game, which was the knock against him coming out of Florida.
Tartt is expected back before the postseason, which is good. But the 49ers may have suffered some more injury setbacks in this game, too.
Cornerback K’Waun Williams suffered a concussion in the game and didn’t return, and then veteran corner Richard Sherman exited with an apparent hamstring injury. Immediately after Sherman left, defensive backs Emmanuel Moseley and D.J. Reed miscommunicated on a play, which led to a massive 25-yard gain by Saints wide receiver Ted Ginn.
Moseley was then hit with defensive pass interference three plays later, and New Orleans capitalized with a go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown.
San Francisco might be able to absorb one or two key losses in the secondary. But when the attrition starts to get bigger, things proved they could get much more problematic.