Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
NEW ORLEANS – Pressure on the quarterback was one of New Orleans bugaboos during the 2010 campaign.
Friday night, it was one of the Saints’ strengths.
New Orleans sacked San Francisco’s myriad of quarterbacks six times and finished with seven tackles for a loss. It hit 49ers quarterbacks 10 times and had two interceptions.
“I think (defensive coordinator) Gregg (Williams) wanted to get after them and open up some of our blitzes,” backup linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar said. “As we all know, Gregg can get blitz-happy around here and I think it was one of those nights where he got blitz-happy and it’s just what happened.”
Saints coach Sean Payton said the Saints used pressure on at least 18 of the opening 22 plays, more than they have in the past in a preseason opener.
Defensive end Will Smith, in limited time, finished with a batted pass and a sack and a number of pressures.
Strong safety Roman Harper finished with two tackles, including a sack, and blasted quarterback Alex Smith at least three times, one of which caused a fumble.
Defensive linemen Tom Johnson, Mitch King and Swanson Miller even stood out.
San Francisco ended with 234 total yards, including just 27 in the first quarter when the 49ers starters were mostly in. They were 3 of 16 on third down and 0-for-1 on fourth and never entered the red zone, the only points coming on a 59-yard David Akers field goal.
“We just scratched the surface,” newly acquired defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin said. “Just building points for us to build on.”