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.

Comings and goings: 49ers coaching staff

Comings and goings: 49ers coaching staff

First-year coach Kyle Shanahan is close to completing his 49ers coaching staff.

Shanahan will handle the duties of the offensive coordinator, the position he held with Houston, Washington and Atlanta over the past nine NFL seasons.

Robert Saleh is the 49ers' new defensive coordinator, while Richard Hightower has been hired as the special-teams coordiator.

Here's a look at the 49ers' coaching staffs under Shanahan and last season under Chip Kelly:

2017 49ERS COACHING STAFF
Position: Coach (2016 job)
Head coach: Kyle Shanahan (Falcons, offensive coordinator)
Defensive coordinator: Robert Saleh (Jaguars, linebackers coach)
Special teams coordinator: Richard Hightower (Bears, assistant special teams)
Assistant head coach/tight ends: Jon Embree (Buccaneers, tight ends)
Run game specialist: Mike McDaniel (Falcons, offensive assistant)
Quarterbacks: Rich Scangarello (Wagner, offensive coordinator)
Running backs: Bobby Turner (Falcons, running backs)
Wide receivers: Mike LaFleur (Falcons, offensive assistant)
Offensive line: Vacant
Offensive assistant: T.C. McCartney (LSU, offensive assistant)
Senior defensive assistant: Jason Tarver (49ers, outside linebackers)
Defensive line: Jeff Zgonina (N.Y. Giants, assistant defensive line)
Linebackers: Johnny Holland (Browns, inside linebackers)
Defensive backs: Jeff Hafley (49ers, defensive backs)
Offensive quality control: Taylor Embree (Chiefs, defensive assistant)
Defensive quality control: Bobby Slowik
Head strength and conditioning: Ray Wright

* * *

2016 49ERS COACHING STAFF
Position: Coach (current status)
Head coach: Chip Kelly
Offensive coordinator: Curtis Modkins (Bears, running backs)
Defensive coordinator: Jim O’Neil
Special teams coordinator: Derius Swinton
Quarterbacks: Ryan Day (Ohio State, quarterbacks)
Running backs: Tom Rathman
Wide receivers: Bob Bicknell
Tight ends: Jeff Nixon (Baylor, co-offensive coordinator/running backs)
Offensive line: Pat Flaherty (Jaguars, offensive line)
Assistant offensive line: Eric Wolford (South Carolina, offensive line)
Defensive line: Jerry Azzinaro (Cal, defensive line)
Assistant defensive line: Vince Oghobaase
Outside linebackers: Jason Tarver (49ers, senior defensive assistant)
Inside linebacker: Joe Bowden
Defensive backs: Jeff Hafley (49ers, defensive backs)
Assistant defensive backs: Roy Anderson (Bears, assistant secondary)
Assistant special teams: Michael Clay
Offensive quality control: Mick Lombardi (Jets, offensive assistant/assistant QBs coach)
Defensive quality control: Tem Lukabu
Senior analyst: Dana Bible
Director of human performance: Mark Uyeyama

Report: 49ers receive permission from Broncos to interview O-line coach

Report: 49ers receive permission from Broncos to interview O-line coach

John Benton, who coached on the same staff during Kyle Shanahan’s four seasons with the Houston Texans, has reportedly received permission from the Denver Broncos to interview with the 49ers.

The Broncos hired Benton on Jan. 15 to work as the team’s assistant offensive line coach under line coach Jeff Davidson.

But Denver coach Vance Joseph and general manager John Elway provided Benton permission to interview with the 49ers, Denver’s 9News reported. The Sacramento Bee was first to report the 49ers were looking at Benton.

The offensive line coach is the last major position that remains vacant on Shanahan’s staff.

Benton worked last season as Jacksonville’s assistant offensive line coach. He worked the previous 13 seasons as offensive line coach with the St. Louis Rams (2003-05), Houston (2006-2013) and Miami (2014-15).

Shanahan’s first NFL coaching job was with Houston in 2006, when he coached wide receivers. Shanahan became the quarterbacks coach with the Texans in 2007 before spending the next two seasons as offensive coordinator under then-coach Gary Kubiak.

The 49ers announced nine additions to the coaching staff on Friday.

Also, the 49ers are expected to hire Daniel Bullocks as assistant defensive backs coach, according to The Sporting News. Bullocks worked in the same role with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. The Jaguars' linebackers coach last season, Robert Saleh, is the 49ers' new defensive coodinator. Bullocks appeared in 31 games in three NFL seasons with the Detroit Lions in 2006 and '08.