No. 3: SF 49ers pass rush vs. Saints offensive line
It’ll definitely feel like a win for the SF 49ers each time they either force a Saints punt or, at worst, a field-goal try.
Despite all their injuries and setbacks, the Niners are still allowing just 5.3 yards per play, which is tied for 10th best this season. It’s almost a small miracle defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s side of the ball hasn’t been gouged for more points and yards this season.
Yet the Niners pass rush certainly has been absent, at least in the sacks category, where the lack of edge rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford has limited the defense to a mere 15 sacks through nine weeks. If there’s some solace, however, San Francisco is getting pressure — on 24.6 percent of opponents’ drop-backs, which is good for ninth best.
Much of this has come by the way of an increase in blitzes, and the SF 49ers may have to engineer more of those in New Orleans.
Especially considering Football Outsiders has the Saints offensive line ranked third overall in pass protection with only 10 sacks allowed.
True, Drew Brees isn’t exactly a mobile threat. But he’s been more than effective passing against the blitz over the course of his career, meaning the proposition of extra Niners blitz packages comes with notable risk.