The 49ers will be in their first playoff game in nine years, and will face a spectacular offense on Saturday at Candlestick Park. The 49ers have been a tough customer at The Stick this season, winning six straight since falling in a 27-24 overtime game against the Cowboys in Week 2. In all, the 49ers are 7-1 at home this season and have gaudy statistics to show for it.
At Candlestick, the 49ers outscored their opponents by nearly 17 points per game (27.6-10.9) which is better than the 19.9-17.6 ratio they posted on the road.
The 49ers defense was more disruptive at Candlestick during the regular season, featuring a plus 19-turnover differential (23-4) at home. For perspective's sake, only two teams had a plus-11 turnover margin for the whole season: the 49ers and the Packers.
Though the Saints have put together one of the finest offensive seasons in NFL history, they haven't been nearly as prolific on the road, scoring 27.3 points per game compared to 41.6 in the Superdome where they were undefeated this season. The Saints were 5-3 on tour.
The Saints have a high-octane offense that’s clicking on all cylinders," said 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. "It's a great challenge for us and it's going to take our best effort, no question about it."
The Saints and the 49ers each finished 13-3 in the regular season, but San Fancisco had a better conference record and got the first-weekend bye and the home game this week which is fortunate for the 49ers because the Saints were unbeaten on artificial turf in the Superdome.
The Saints, who somehow lost to Tampa Bay -- at Tampa Bay in the great outdoors -- have a nine-game win streak.
After the Saints' win over the Lions, quarterback Drew Brees said, "We were pulling out all the stops. We play aggressive. We're not going to apologize for that. That gives the guys in the huddle a lot of confidence."
by Ed Staton