Sunday, January 8, 2012

Wild Card Weekend Review: 49ers Get Saints

Well, the Texans game was exciting until they just pulled away late, but other than that, no game this weekend came close to the drama the Pittsburgh Steelers/Denver Broncos game brought. At the same time, the 49ers couldn't get their wish, and indeed will end up playing New Orleans after Drew Brees disected the Lions defense.

Gotta give it up to Tebow and Demaryius Thomas for their performance against the Steelers on Sunday, cause Pittsburgh's defense was playing pretty stoutly. They weren't allowing Tebow or McGahee to get any running space, so Denver had to beat them through the air and Tim Tebow did just that, breaking 300 yards and throwing for a couple of scores. Demaryius Thomas was probably the most valuable receiver of Wild Card weekend as well, as he reeled in 204 receiving yards, a huge 50 yard pass-interference play and the game winning 80-yard TD catch. That was a big day for Thomas in the maturation category as I think he finally showed his real potential, and will be a beast from here on out. They'll need him to be with Eric Decker likely sidelined for the rest of the year. The other, less exciting games went pretty much as I predicted; Eli Manning and Ahmad Bradshaw tore up Atlanta while Arien Foster and a healthy Andre Johnson carried the Texans, and of course, Drew Brees ate up the Detroit secondary!

Now, onto week two, in which the 49ers step into play. Now we'll probably be talking this game all week, so we won't get into it too much now, but my early thoughts are that the 49ers are going to have to be pressuring Drew Brees at all times. If they want to run Darren Sproles or Pierre Thomas, let them, the linebackers will track them down, but I'd have at least 5-6 guys going at Brees each play. The 49ers are corners have played strongly lately, but Tarrell Brown and Carlos Rogers will have their hands full as they'll likely be the ones covering Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston. And the Saints have more weapons than that, so the nickel and dime backs will have to be on their games next Sunday. Offensively, obviously the team will have to score, but I honestly think they need to do whatever they can to keep Drew Brees off the field. Play defense with your offense, so to speak. Do short 5-yard routes and screen plays, a lot of Frank Gore and Kendal Hunter. Just try and keep getting first downs and let the rest fall into place. We'll get more in-depth as we get into our game preview later on in the week, but what a wild-card weekend, just too bad Detroit couldn't pull off the upset!

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