NFL Playoff Picture: 49ers Defense Can't Handle Saints' Offensive Attack

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 07:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates with  Darren Sproles #43 after Sproles' touchdown in the second quarter against the Detroit Lions during their 2012 NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 7, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

When the San Francisco 49ers clinched the No. 2 seed in the NFC, the one thing that they had to be hoping for was that the Detroit Lions would upset the New Orleans Saints. Unfortunately, things don't always work out the way you like, and as a result, the 49ers are doomed in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. 

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News sees the danger lurking for the 49ers and the results are not likely to be what they hope to see. 

Despite uncharacteristically losing two fumbles early on, the Saints put up 45 points with impressive ease Saturday.

They're making a habit of it.

This was the Saints' ninth consecutive victory. They haven't lost since late October, and they've won by 10 points or more in seven of those victories.

The problem with the 49ers is, ironically, their defense. They are in the position that they are right now largely because of the way that they played when they didn't have the ball. The offense has some bright spots, but overall it is not going to scare anyone. 

The defense, meanwhile, has plenty of playmakers up front. The defensive line is as strong as there is in the NFL, they led the league in rush yards allowed and finished seventh in sacks with 42. 

The problem lies in the secondary. Carlos Rogers had a great year, but after him they are incredibly thin. They were middle of the road defending the pass in 2011 with 231 yards allowed per game, and now they have Drew Brees waiting on them. 

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While it is not impossible to envision a scenario in which the 49ers contain Brees, it is going to take awhile before you get to it when you think about the ways that this game can go. 

The one saving grace that the 49ers have is that the Saints defense is not exactly capable of stopping anyone, though they do just enough to give Brees and the offense a little cushion to play with. 

Considering the fact that the 49ers have allowed 44 points in their last two games—against Seattle and St. Louis—they are not likely to be able to do much to contain the elite quarterbacks that you play in the postseason. 

Alex Smith has to play the game of his life just to give the 49ers a chance in this game, because the defense is not going to showcase its ability against Brees this Saturday. 

Jim Harbaugh did a great job with the 49ers this season, but he is going to find out the hard way that there is still a lot of work to do before they are ready to compete with the top teams in the NFC. 

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