Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
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METAIRIE, La. ― A week ago, folks figured the Saints would be a 21st century smorgasbord of scoring in their wild-card round playoff game against Detroit.
On Saturday, in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs, they’ll go back into the 20th century.
San Francisco, Saints linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar said, plays “old-school” football – almost adequate passing game combined with an in-your-face, bruising run attack.
And he’s looking forward to it.
“It’s kind of what you look for as a football player, as a linebacker,” Dunbar said. “You look forward to a challenge and that’s exactly what this is. It’s a challenge, a very good team offensively so we’re looking forward to it.”
The 49ers have only the 26th-best offense in the NFL, but they’re No. 8 in the run game, recording 127.4 yards per game on the ground.
San Francisco’s Frank Gore is one of the league’s best, rushing for 1,211 yards and eight touchdowns.
In his career against the Saints, he has rushed for 275 yards and a touchdown in four games.
“I think their offensive line is playing at a great level,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “They do a great job with their schemes and getting you into some personnel groupings or formations that really become challenging defensively.”
New Orleans, meanwhile, is 12th against the run but 29th in the league in yards allowed per run attempt.
No team saw fewer runs than the Saints, however, and only two teams (Green Bay and Chicago) saw more passes thrown against them.
“Those two things are complementary,” Dunbar said. “Obviously if we get up on a team, they’re going to have to pass. But I think we’ve played pretty good run defense outside of that. It’s definitely a match of two wills in this week’s game but what else can you expect? What else can you ask for?”