49ers Vs. Saints, 2012 NFL Playoffs: Alex Smith, SF Offense An Unknown Commodity

It really is impossible to tell just how the San Francisco 49ers will look offensively on Saturday against the New Orleans Saints. The only constant will be running back Frank Gore, who will be eyeing a big game against a defense that has been great at times, but not-so-great for much more of said time. With a potentially out or hampered Roman Harper, Gore's importance increases heavily.

But Alex Smith and the passing game are wild cards. Could they have their best game this season? They sure can, considering the state of the Saints defense from week-to-week. But who will contribute to that? Who will be the focal point? There are plenty of players that can get open and get things done with the ball in their hands, but the 49ers haven't established much offensive identity through 16 games under Jim Harbaugh.

Only two of the options are really "solid" receiving targets, at least as far as being proven is concerned, but there are subtle threats that could be huge for the 49ers on Saturday. Kyle Williams could have a big game if he's active, but again, he's a wild card because he's still mostly unknown and the injury. Is he a potential target? Yes. Is he a known commodity? Not at all.

Ted Ginn Jr. remains an option as always, but he's still inconsistent. Can the 49ers count on him to make a game-changing catch? Probably not, but it's possible. There's been games where Ginn isn't targeted at all, and games in which the 49ers throw to him several times in a row. Even Michael Crabtree isn't all-that known yet, despite putting together some solid performances in recent weeks.

All of these guys have awesome tools as receivers, but we don't know how dependable they are and more than that, we don't know how the 49ers want to use them. We know what both defenses can do, and we know what Drew Brees can do with Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Marques Colston, Chris Ivory and Jimmy Graham. We know how he's been targeting them, with more than one season to back up those numbers. In short, a defensive-minded 15-13 win wouldn't be surprising with the 49ers penchant for field goals and strong defense, but neither would a slightly more high-scoring effort with the 49ers on top.

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