Sure I love a good coach meltdown as much as the next guy, but the thing about Mike Singletary's nuanced answers regarding his team's upcoming match-up with the Saints is that he was right.
Asked how his offense will try to move the ball against the Saints' defense, coach Singletary replied "We won't try to move the ball against the Saints' defense, we will move the ball against the Saints defense and we will score points. Next question." His skill in directly answering the question with confidence and annoyance, plus sticking the "Next Question" dismount earns him a perfect 10. Allow me to just read between the lines a little bit for you though so you can see how those points will get scored. Once you use more than just last weeks results (win for Saints, embarassing loss for the 49ers) to make projections, you can see some interesting matchups.
The 49ers 1st down passing attack was not overly impressive, except that they really seem committed to throwing on first down. They get 5.3 yards per pass play on first down which is a full yard better than what they get when they run the ball. As the Saints run defense is excellent (allowing less than 4 yards a carry) and their pass defense is suspect (allowing 6.3 yards per attempt), the 49ers commitment to throwing on first down is a major strength. This is a good math-up for Alex Smith to demonstrate why the 49ers believe in him.
Particularly if the 49ers can employ the same tactics that the Ravens did last week against the very aggressive Jets defense: lots of shotgun with quick passes, limiting the effects that their incredible pass rush could have on their young QB.
Asked how his defense will try to stop the high power Saints' offense, Singletary again stuck the dismount: "We will not try to stop the Saints' offense. We will stop the Saints' offense. Next Question!"
The 49ers will stop the Saints' offense because the Saints actually like to run on first down which is the great strength of the 49ers defense. They have a good pass defense, but the best rush defense in the league on first down (again, this is not just based on last weeks data). If New Orleans utilizes a similar game plan to last week, they will find themselves in 3rd and long on a regular basis against a defense that will be able to slow them down enough to get the win.