2012 NFL Playoffs: 49ers Set To Face Saints; Ready Despite Doubters

The San Francisco 49ers and their fans sat back for a relaxing weekend of Wild Card playoff games, having earned a first-round bye. Finishing the regular season at 13-3, the 49ers held the same record as the New Orleans Saints, but earned a week off due to to a common opponent tiebreaker. They were forced to play an extra game en route to a potential Super Bowl win, and hosted the No. 6 Detroit Lions on Saturday.

And, true to their seeding, promptly dispatched of said Lions.

It was a close game through one half, and the Lions actually held the lead at that point, but the Saints quickly put it out of reach, going up by three possessions in the fourth quarter. Drew Brees and that high-power offense had their way with the Lions secondary, the play-calling always a step ahead. Now, they'll come to Candlestick Park to the on the 49ers in the Divisional Round, and the sentiment following the game was that the 49ers had little chance.

That sentiment being on Twitter, of course, and it's something Jim Harbaugh and his team have thrived on all season. There's a lot to look at for this game, mostly regarding the poor play of the Lions defense. There were dropped interceptions, poor tackles and blown coverages. The opportunistic 49ers defense isn't going to drop those interceptions, and guys like Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman aren't going to miss tackles on Pierre Thomas.

There were plenty of times when the defense allowed short gains and potential stops on second and third down to become first downs and then some. Thomas, in particular, had three or four different times in which he should have been brought down, but instead he picked up another couple of yards for the first down, and sometimes more. Those aren't the kind of tackles that the 49ers are going to miss.

And that's why this is such an interesting matchup. It's one of the league's top two offenses up against one of the league's top two defenses. Can it get much better than that?

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