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Interview with the Enemy: 49ers expect Drew to attack vertically

Could this be the end of the silly “air yards” stat?

San Francisco 49ers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Another week of football, and another week of our Interview with the Enemy series. This week, Kyle Posey of Niners Nation answers 5 quick questions before our Week 10 showdown: a rematch of the 2019 classic, with the New Orleans Saints hosting the reigning NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers.


I guess the easiest way to ask it is this: Who all is still healthy and ready to play against the Saints on Sunday?

Deebo Samuel didn’t practice for the second day in a row, which likely means he’ll miss Sunday. That’s a big blow for the 49ers offense if he can’t suit up. The offense will be without running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman again. To answer your question, it’s tough to say. Richard Sherman practiced, but he’ll likely wait until the Rams game.

The good news is the 49ers will have Brandon Aiyuk and Trent Williams back on offense. The team’s third wideout, Kendrick Bourne, was placed on the COVID list earlier in the week but has an outside chance of playing. The 49ers injury report is lengthy and forever fluid. There have been times this season where a player was hurt in practice and placed on the IR, even late in the week.

Is there a particular under-the-radar player who will be pressed into duty on Sunday that you expect to make a big impact on the game?

The most logical answer is wide receiver, Richie James. He doesn’t run with the same ferocity as Deebo, but he has plenty of speed and wiggle to turn a short gain into an explosive play. Talent has never been an issue with James, and the players always vouched for him. Injuries and opportunities have been what’s held James back.

After a coming-out party against the Packers, where Kyle Shanahan said that role would have been Aiyuk’s had he been healthy, will make it easier for the 49ers to give James touches. That, plus Deebo and Trent Taylor’s apparent back injury, though Taylor did practice on Thursday. James is a player who the Niners have felt comfortable throwing screens to since he’s been in San Francisco. If they can trust him down the field, he’s your answer.

Finish this sentence: The Saints will win this game unless _________________.

The Mandalorian is under center for the 49ers.

On a serious note, the 49ers will win if they figure out how to rush the passer. That hasn’t happened all season.

If you were Sean Payton, how would you game plan to attack the 49ers defense?

Opposing offenses have attacked the 49ers down the field in recent weeks. Whether it’s attacking Emmanuel Moseley on vertical routes, Jason Verrett on double moves, or when backup safety Marcell Harris is in, they’ve isolated him in coverage. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The issue with that is the combination of Aaron Rodgers-Devante Adams, and Russell Wilson-DK Metcalf is impossible to duplicate. The 49ers are excellent against the run, and teams have not sustained drives against them. It’s the big play that’s killed this unit.

What is your prediction for the game? Who wins? Final score?

I think both defenses come to play, and this is much lower scoring than last season. I don’t believe New Orleans will blow San Francisco out, but I also don’t see this game being a nail biter that comes down to the final play. 24-17, Saints.


Thank-you, Kyle, for taking the time to answer our questions. Saints fans, make sure you check out Kyle and the work his guys are doing over at Niners Nation. You can follow Niners Nation on Twitter @NinersNation, Kyle @KP_Show, and of course you can follow me @ChrisDunnells.