By Jerrell Richardson
There is no secret that the New Orleans Saints are going to pass the ball when the San Francisco 49ers play them on Sunday. The Saints are a pass first team and have one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Drew Brees leading their attack. Brees will be getting back one of his most important weapons, while the San Francisco players who are going to be responsible for chasing around the Saints receivers are not going to be 100%. The 49er report has dropped some names since last week, but gained some new ones. The good news for both teams is that there are no starters scheduled to miss the game (due to an injury) and the rematch of last years thriller should be just as competitive and exciting.
Darren Sproles Is Back
Saints running back Darren Sproles missed last week’s game with a hand injury and looks as though he will be back on the field. Sproles is a match-up nightmare due to his size and speed, and could poise a problem for even the athletic line-backing core of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. Sproles is used in passing situations and in the return game so San Francisco will need swarm around the elusive back. If they play sound defensively though, San Francisco should be able to minimize any damages from Sproles.
San Francisco Secondary Not 100%
The unit on the field that will be under the pressure is the 49er secondary. They will look to slow down Drew Brees and a passing attack that scores seemingly at will. Not weighing in the 49ers favor will be that 4 members of the secondary are on the injury report. Outside of Tarell Brown who is sporting a knee injury, the other issues (shoulder, ribs, finger) injuries will not effect their abilities to cover, but could come into play when the physical secondary comes up in run support and other instances in which they will need to make a tackle.
San Francisco remains healthy enough to avoid any players being listed as out, but the injuries are starting to add up. With 3 members of the secondary participating in limited practice this week it shows that the team is starting to show the signs of wear and tear that come with playing a physical brand of football. This is a issue to monitor, but still not an issue. No player is really healthy this late in the season, and there is still not a single player who is listed as out. Players have dialed it back in practice, but that is just as much precautionary as a legitimate injury concern. It is a good thing that the 49ers will have the services of their entire defensive backs, as they will all be needed to try and stop the high powered Saints offense.
San Francisco 49ers
*Quarterback: Alex Smith—Concussion
*Cornerback: Tarell Brown—Knee
*Linebacker: Tavares Gooden—Elbow, quadricep
*Running Back: Frank Gore—Ribs, wrist
*Defensive Tackle/Fullback: Will Tukuafu—Wrist
*Linebacker: Patrick Willis—Shoulder
*Cornerback: Chris Culliver—Shoulder
*Safety: Dashon Goldson—Ribs
*Wide Receiver: Randy Moss—Finger
*Linebacker: Aldon Smith—Shoulder
*Safety: C.J. Spillman–Finger
New Orleans Saints
*Tackle: Charles Brown—Knee
*Defensive End: Junior Galette—Ankle
*Cornerback: Elbert Mack—Concussion
*Cornerback: Corey White—Knee
*Tackle: Zach Strief—Groin
*Running back: Darren Sproles—Hand
*Cornerback: Ramon Humber—Illness
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.