NFL Preseason Week 1: San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints

San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints
Friday, 8/12/11, 8:00 PM EST
Opening Point Spread:  New Orleans -3
Current Betting Line:  New Orleans -3
Opening Total:  37
Current Total:  35.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Cowboys Saints NFL Preview
New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees threw for 4,620 yards in 2010

San Francisco opens up the season on the road against New Orleans and it will serve as the debut of head coach Jim Harbaugh, who spent the last four years in Palo Alto at Stanford.  The 49ers have started implementing a complicated offense for the upcoming season, but Harbaugh has suggested that tonight’s contest will be about execution and player evaluation.  The team enjoyed a perfect 4-0 preseason record in 2010, marking the first such record for the franchise since 1992.  It didn’t translate into regular season results, posting a 6-10 mark and resulted in the firing of Mike Singletary.  San Francisco was 7-9 ATS during the 2010 season.

The 49ers finished last year 24th in the league in scoring and total offense, averaging 19.1 points and 313.3 yards respectively.  Harbaugh expects his starters to play between 20 and 30 snaps and intends to take a long look at rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick out of Nevada.  First-year offensive coordinator Greg Roman spent the previous two seasons under Harbaugh at Stanford and has implemented an offense that will take time to develop under presumed starting quarterback Alex Smith when the season kicks off on Sept. 11 against Seattle at home.

New Orleans will put two weeks of training camp to the test and will get back on the field for the first time since losing in Seattle in last year’s Wild Card round.  The Saints will be playing the 49ers for the first time since 2003 in the preseason and will be facing them for the third time overall.  Fans remember the last regular season meeting, as the squad came away with a 25-22 win at Candlestick Park on Monday night football last year in Week 2.  Under head coach Sean Payton, New Orleans is 11-10 in preseason action.

The Saints suffered a drop-off offensively in 2010, ranking 6th in yardage and 11th in scoring.  Quarterback Drew Brees is back after finishing third in the league with 4,620 passing yards and tying for second with 33 touchdown passes.  He was incredibly accurate in leading all signal-callers with a 68.1 completion percentage.  New Orleans definitely has a capable backfield to shoulder the offensive load, as Chris Ivory is coming off a 716-yard season, while the team used its first-round draft pick on Alabama runner Mark Ingram.  The Saints finished 28th in rushing by averaging 95 yards per game a year ago.

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