SF 49ers: 3 players who’ll be key in defeating Saints in Week 10

Fred Warner, San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Fred Warner, San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /
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Nick Mullens, SF 49ers
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens (4) Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 1: SF 49ers Quarterback Nick Mullens

At his best, Jimmy Garoppolo could duel it out with Drew Brees. But since that’s not going to happen in Week 10, all hopes focus on Nick Mullens at least being able to hold his own.

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers /

San Francisco 49ers

Despite the best efforts from Fred Warner, Emmanuel Moseley and the rest of the SF 49ers defense, Brees and the Saints offense will score. Often at will. Arguably the best way to prevent all that, of course, is for the Niners to elongate their own offensive drives successfully.

Yes, San Francisco’s run game will be essential to this happening. But with New Orleans allowing an average of 3.5 yards per carry — third best in the NFL — it’s going to be difficult for head coach Kyle Shanahan to get his ground game going with any sort of regularity.

That means Mullens will be required to make some plays.

The No. 2 quarterback doesn’t have to be prolific. The SF 49ers aren’t expecting a 350-yard, four-touchdown performance from him, although that would be nice. Rather Mullens should look to take advantage of 6.2 yards per pass play, which is right in the middle of the defensive pack this season. Some of Mullens’ decision-making processes need to be good, too, particularly when electing to throw into too-tight windows or merely taking a sack instead of making an ill-advised throw.

Both of those were problems in Week 9 against the Packers.

Mullens has to be good enough to match Brees, not great. Sometimes, efficiency is the best means to win a game.

Next. 49ers' 5 best players over first half of 2020. dark

That’s what the Niners expect from their backup this week.