The San Francisco 49ers (0-0) square off against the New Orleans Saints (0-0) in the first preseason game of the year for both teams. The Jim Harbaugh era begins tonight, as he tries to return the 49ers to glory.
The Saints, meanwhile, are only one season removed from a world championship, having defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV. Head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees lead the Saints in their quest for another title.
New Orleans is coming off an 11-5 season in 2010. The Saints made the playoffs as a wild card team, but were upset by the Seattle Seahawks.
The 49ers—expected to contend for the NFC West title—were a disappointing 6-10 last season, which ultimately got Mike Singletary fired. This is our first look at Harbaugh's new-look West Coast offense for the Niners.
A former NFL quarterback himself, Harbaugh will try to work his magic with the much-maligned Alex Smith, who has disappointed the 49ers and their fans since his arrival as the top overall pick in the 2005 draft.
Tonight's game has much more meaning for the 49ers, as they hope to generate some positive momentum in the lead-up to the regular season.
The starters for both sides are expected to see somewhere around 16-20 snaps. Following that, both coaches will substitute liberally and try to get a good look at their reserves. The battle for the last few roster spots will be fierce on both sides, so this game will be interesting for all four quarters.