49ers key matchup No. 1: 49ers pass defense vs. Drew Brees

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49ers key matchup No. 1: 49ers pass defense vs. Drew Brees

This is the final part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Saints matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (FOX), at the Superdome.49ers pass defense vs. Saints QB Drew BreesTale of the tape
49ers pass defense: Ranked No. 2 in the NFL
Brees (9): 6-foot, 209 pounds, 12th season, PurdueThe 49ers trot out Colin Kaepernick on Sunday for his second NFL start, so there's a level of unknown facing the New Orleans Saints' defense.On the other side of the ball, the 49ers know exactly what they're up against.Shutting down Saints quarterback Drew Brees is not an easy task, and it comes with many levels of challenges. After all, the Saints' top four pass-catchers features two wide receivers, a tight end and a versatile running back."They have a lot of different weapons and they all can line up in different spots," 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers said.That means that while Rogers, who covers the slot receiver, will probably see more of Lance Moore than any pf the Saints' receivers, he had to prepare to face all of the Saints' receiving options."Their receivers, all of them, are good receivers," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "They don't have Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald. But all of them are really good. That's the problem with this team."There's not one guy to play, 'Hey, if we can take this guy out, we've got a good chance.' All the receivers and (tight end Jimmy) Graham and (running back Darren) Sproles and their group of running backs are tough to stop. So you've just got to line up and play and you've got to win some one-on-one matchups."But those one-one-one matchups will constantly change through the course of the game. The only constant is that Brees will be the man on the distributing end. Brees has averaged 306.6 yards passing per game. He has thrown at least one touchdown pass in an NFL record 53 consecutive games.This season, Brees has thrown 28 touchdown passes with the bulk of them going to four main targets. Graham has eight touchdown receptions, while, Marques Colston has caught seven scoring passes. Moore and Sproles have four touchdowns apiece.The 49ers' defense this season has done an exceptional job of limiting the big play, and they'll be put to the test on Sunday.Inside linebacker Patrick Willis is coming off one of his best games in coverage. Willis found himself matched in single coverage against Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte and he responded with a strong performance. Willis is also accustomed to covering tight ends, so he'll likely see plenty of Graham, who has 51 catches for 562 yards on the season.The 49ers will have to feature a group effort on Sunday. And they're facing a hot team. The Saints have won five of their past six games.Cornerbacks Rogers, Tarell Brown and Chris Culliver must step up to the challenge. And safeties Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner will be tested repeatedly.Outside linebacker Aldon Smith, who entered the day with an NFL-leading 15 sacks, can make things easier on the secondary if he can administer some pressure on Brees. But Brees is not an easy quarterback to sack. He has been sacked just 16 times in 10 games."Brees gets the ball out quickly, but we can't have a clock in our heads because he can keep plays alive, too," Rogers said.

Bills sign two former 49ers

Bills sign two former 49ers

The Buffalo Bills have signed two 49ers free agents within the past two days.

After signing wide receiver Rod Streater on Wednesday, the Bills announced the signing of linebacker Gerald Hodges on Thursday.

The 49ers acquired Hodges in a 2015 trade with the Minnesota Vikings for center Nick Easton and a sixth-round draft pick. Hodges started 12 games last season and ranked second on the team with 92 tackles.

Hodges left the 49ers shorthanded for a late-season game against the Atlanta Falcons when he violated team rules. Then-coach Chip Kelly did not disclose the nature of Hodges infraction. Hodges offered no explanation or apology.

The 49ers entered the game against the high-powered Falcons with just two healthy inside linebackers due to Hodges’ deactivation. Starter Nick Bellore sustained an elbow injury on the third play of the game, and the 49ers were forced to use safeties Antoine Bethea and Vinnie Sunseri, and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks at various points of the game.

The 49ers showed no interest in re-signing Hodges as a free agent.

Streater, a five-year NFL veteran, saw action in all 16 games last season after being acquired in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs in September. He caught 18 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns.

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

It was Jim Harbaugh's first season as head coach of the 49ers.

The 4-1 49ers were in Detroit and scored 10 points in the final 5:29 to beat the Lions 25-19.

An excited Harbaugh got a little too agressive during his postgame handshake with Lions coach Jim Schwartz. The two had words for each other and had to be separated.

Six years later, Harbaugh took the blame for what happened and said that he and Schwartz have patched things up.

"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake. I've since changed that. Not doing that anymore. Can't blame him. I went in too hard. And you respect him for taking exception. We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends. There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as loser. You just, 'Hey, nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong," Harbaugh said Tuesday on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast.

Harbaugh sounds like he's learned his lesson from that incident with Schwartz.

"The postgame handshake isn't the place for anything. If you're bitter, than change the I to an E. Don't get bitter, get better. Nothing's really changing at the postgame handshake. Just professionally shake hands and go on your way," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh moved on from the 49ers to coach the Michigan Wolverines. Schwartz coached the Lions through the 2013 season and currently serves as the defensive coordinator for the Eagles.