Saints’ record-setting offense a tough test for 49ers 

click to enlarge Historic: Saints quarterback Drew Brees set an NFL single-season record with 5,476 passing yards. - AP FILE PHOTO
  • AP file photo
  • Historic: Saints quarterback Drew Brees set an NFL single-season record with 5,476 passing yards.

The 49ers get a fresh start with some healthy bodies as they will be playing their first playoff game since 2002 on Saturday against the New Orleans Saints.

They face a quarterback in Drew Brees that broke Dan Marino’s single-season passing yards record in Week 16. They face an offense that put up 626 yards against the Detroit Lions in the wild-card round.

The Saints score an average of 34.2 points per game.

Has it been said this offense is good?

"They’re playing very well together within the framework of the offense. A very effective running team and a very effective passing team," Jim Harbaugh said. "Both of those phases really compliment the other."

The 49ers’ defense, although only allowing just north of 14 points per game on the season, gave up 44 points in the final two games of the regular season and surrendered three rushing touchdowns after not allowing one in the first 14 games.

The Saints come in with the sixth-best rushing attack in the NFL, which Harbaugh notes stems from the success of the passing game.

"They get favorable looks in the running game because they are so good throwing the ball. Their running game compliments their play-action game," he said. "It’s just a well-orchestrated, coordinated offense led by a quarterback that’s having arguably the best year in the history of the game."

New Orleans will rely on the legs of Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory who rushed for a combined for over 1,500 yards in the regular season.

"This is a high-octane offense that’s clicking on all cylinders," Harbaugh said. "It’s a great challenge for us and it’s going to take our best effort, no question about it."

On the offensive side of the ball, the 49ers will get a fully healthy Frank Gore, Ted Ginn and Kyle Williams, and Harbaugh said their blocking will be critical Saturday against the blitz-happy Saints.

"It’ll be very important for Frank to have a great game blocking, as it will [be] for all of our guys, including our receivers," Harbaugh said.

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Zack Farmer

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