Attention!!!! DON'T hit that panic button yet!!!! When the schedule was released I figured the Niners could seriously start the season 1-3 because of the 3 road games and the Saints at home. However, after week 4 the schedule becomes very favorable to the Niners. I understand the frustration of the loss in Seattle, but we have to remember that divisional games are always tough, no matter how good or bad the teams are playing. Let's not forget that the mighty Saints lost to struggling Tampa Bay in their own house late last year.
With the Saints coming to San Francisco on Monday night, it's obvious the 49ers will have to bring their A game. I do think the Niners are better than what they showed last week and now they can view this as an opportunity to regain some of the expectations that were placed on them before the season.
3 Key points to beating the Saints:
1) Offensive Line needs to open up running lanes for Frank Gore. His 2.2 avg will not get it done against anybody. His average needs to be 3.5 to help make 3rd downs more managable.
2) Convert 3rd Downs. Last week the Niners were 1-15 on 3rd Down (Conversion rate of 6.7%). I'd like to see that at 45% this week.
3) Game Management. This encompasses a broad scope of mistakes that were made last week such as: Clock management (wasted time outs, slow getting to the line), play smart defense (don't try to jump routes), take the sure points.
Taking the sure points could have changed the entire make up of the game last week. I know, hindsight is 20/20, but this is how I see it. Last year we went to Seattle where mental mistakes cost us the game (and possibly the playoffs). I wouldn't let that happen again. If the Niners go for the sure points they would have been up 9-0 making it a two possession game, against a team that at the time was unable to move the ball. The two possession lead would have helped take the crowd out of the game, which in turn would have helped the offense relax in such a hostile environment.
With all that said, if Alex his Norris in the numbers its 10-0 and we probably go on to route Seahawks. Instead mistakes kept Seattle alive, and no matter who is playing, when momentum turns its hard to regain.
Also, I do want to extend a big Kudos to Seattle's defense for buckling down in those 3 red zone possession early. It could easily have been 21-0 and the Niners could have sleep-walked through the rest of the game.