With Williams' move, NFC West got more interesting

With Williams' move, NFC West got more interesting
January 17, 2012, 12:26 am
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SANTA CLARA -- The New Orleans Saints went all-out to win the first exhibition game of the season.And after the 49ers returned the favor with a 36-32 victory over the Saints on Saturday in an NFC divisional game, San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman gave credit to the Saints' unique approach in the exhibition game for factoring into the 49ers' playoff victory."Thankfully, they blitzed us in the preseason game and really gave us some good film to study," Roman said in the winning locker room. "We pretty much had the whole montage of blitzes."They're really good at what they do and they came up with one or two that gave us problems during the game. Thankfully, most of them we saw in the preseason."

Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams raised some eyebrows among the 49ers and around the NFL with an unusually aggressive plan against the 49ers in August. The 49ers had two weeks of practices while installing a new system to prepare for that game after the lockout.Williams took advantage of the 49ers' predicament with his established defense turning up the heat with 18 blitzes in the first half, alone. Quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick were sacked six times, took numerous other hits and, luckily, avoided injuries.Williams continued to blitz the 49ers on Saturday. New Orleans rushed three or four defenders on just 14 of the 49ers' 46 pass plays. Smith beat the Saints' blitzes on two of his touchdown passes. And the 49ers also took advantage of a Saints blitz on Smith's 28-yard touchdown run late in the game."We had to make adjustments on the sideline and really firm up protection in the third quarter and into the fourth," 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said. "And we caught them with a lot of big plays coming because of their blitzes. They live by the blitz and they die by the blitz."The 49ers will be seeing a lot more of Williams in the future. Williams is reportedly joining new coach Jeff Fisher's staff with the St. Louis Rams. So the 49ers will go up against Williams' defenses twice a year as members of the NFC West.