How did Harbaugh turn the Niners around? Pro football players, for the most part, want two things. One, coaches who aren't full of baloney. And two, game plans that work. The 49ers soon realized Harbaugh's full-frontal style was sincere -- and that his staff's weekly strategy choices were smart and gave them a better-than-even chance to win.
So after winning 13 of 16 games, here come the playoffs and Harbaugh must be delighted by being the underdog on Saturday against the Saints.
What drives Harbaugh is the pursuit of what people say is unattainable.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees said he has enjoyed watching Alex Smith put together a career year. As a fellow San Diego resident who has got to know Smith over the years, Brees said he's become a big fan of Smith's decision-making and his ability to control the ball this season.
"I've been impressed with the way Smith's grasped that offense in a short amount of time," said Brees. "The throws he's making, his decision-making, everything. He's had a great year."
On Saturday, Brees will be more concerned with the 49ers defense than Smith on the other sideline. From what he's seen on film, it's clear Brees is aware of how stingy the 49ers' defense has been all season.
Brees said he's been particularly impressed with the 49ers' ability to create turnovers, which he calls the "biggest stat in football." Of the 38 takeaways by the 49ers defense this season, 23 of them came at Candlestick Park.
"They are very disciplined," said Brees. "They are constantly stuffing the run holes and allowing their linebackers to run and make tackles. It's just a really solid, disciplined group. In my opinion, one of the best sevens in the league."
Brees also said the Saints offense is playing better than it ever has during his six seasons with the team, due in part to the consistent carryover of personnel. The offensive line has built particularly good chemistry over the years as four of the five starters have been playing together for several seasons now.
More Saints and NFL….
Saints RB Pierre Thomas refused to let the first tackler down him against the Lions last week. Said Thomas: "I try to break as many tackles I can and get in that end zone."...Drew Brees on Saints all-purpose back Darren Sproles: "He walks in the room and you are stunned at the size (5-foot-6) and stature. This is a game for big, strong, fast guys. And you say, 'This does not belong.' But he does. He more than belongs."
From Bleacher Report
It will pit Drew Brees' astoundingly efficient aerial attack against a 49ers secondary that allowed opposing quarterbacks to average a lowly 73.6 QB rating in 2011. Their 23 interceptions were tied for the second-best in the NFL.
Not to be overlooked is the Saints' scary running back committee that averaged 133 yards per game this season. What's more, they rushed for at least 164 yards in their last three games. However, this week, they square off against San Fran's top-ranked run defense.
This game is the classic offense vs. defense matchup.
Several Jets players who spoke against their team, sent out this message: We want Peyton Manning. "Come on. That's a no-brainer," a Jets source told the New York Daily News. "If you have a chance to get a healthy 36-year-old Peyton Manning and you don't do it, then you're stupid. If I could get a healthy Manning, then, hell yeah, I would trade Mark Sanchez."...Kim Kardashian was featured in the Sneakers' racy Super Bowl commercial last year, but has been dropped and will be replaced by a French bulldog. The ad also will features Mark Cuban, Mavericks owner...
SOME HITHER, others yon: Nationalfootballpost.com is out with an incredibly early sneak preview of the Top 5 for the 2012 season. Will LSU rebound from its atrocious offensive showing against Alabama. Alabama is No. 1 until the Tide gets beat. LSU is No.2. Here's what NFP writes about the Tigers: "The Tigers certainly didn't look like an undefeated team Monday night in their 21-0 loss to Alabama, but frustrated Bayou Bengals fans don't have to worry about sub par quarterback play any longer. Former Georgia quarterback Zach Mettenberger is ready to step in for Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee, and he possesses the big arm that is capable of connecting with the Tigers' talented receivers for big plays down the fieldRounding out the Top 5 were No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 5 USC...Rumors have surfaced that LSU WR Russell Shepard was leaving school early in order to make himself available for the April draft. In a tweet posted to his Twitter account, Shepard appeared to confirm speculation. "Thanks for your support Tiger Nation...but I have to do what's best for my family and myself...Geaux Tigers." Shepard's limited role this season continued in the BCS game when he was in for only three plays. "OMG I played three plays." It's not out of the realm of possibility Shepard could go undrafted..
by Ed Staton
Who is going to win the SF, N.O. game this week? Talk about this question below: