The San Francisco 49ers travel to the "Big Easy" to take on the NFC South champion, New Orleans Saints. The Week 14 clash is an opportunity for both teams to cement themselves atop the NFC. Here's what the Saints locker room had to say ahead of Sunday's showdown against the 49ers.
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton on the 49ers rushing attack:
"Number one, their scheme's fantastic and it matches their skillset. The offensive line and how they target their landmarks (is impressive). They are guys that are athletic and I'd say that the trait that every one of these backs has is their home run speed. So they are going to stress you horizontally and put the foot in the ground and you're going to have to be able to really handle this wide zone and then the auxiliary runs that come from it, but they're running it as well as anyone."
Payton on what he's seen from Nick Bosa:
"Look, you're seeing a great combination of athleticism, strength and speed. That combination to edge you, that combination to go speed to power. It's not just one part of his game. Shoot, he's a handful, he's having a fantastic season."
Payton on Kyle Shanahan the play caller:
"I'd say for someone his age, he has a lot of experience. I think that's invaluable. I think that there's a transition, when you are real young. There are some things you don't know and that's not a bad thing once in a while. I think his experience in the systems he has been (in) and where he's been, I think those have been good stops along the way. I've said this before, we're oftentimes products of our pedigree and some of that is out of your control. Some of it's under your control. I think when you look at his pedigree, it's been very strong relative to the offense he's been a part of, the running game, the exposure to what he is looking to do, how he is looking to do it and who he needs to do it with. I think that is just as important, knowing what he is looking for. His experience and the people he's come up under, and I'm not just talking about his father (Mike Shanahan), who's a Hall of Fame head coach. I'm talking about a number of good football people along the way have been, I think, a big plus for any of us, but certainly for Kyle. He and (49ers general manager) John (Lynch) have done a tremendous job in a short period of time."
Payton on the challenge of guarding George Kittle:
"Look, it can be a linebacker challenge. It can be a safety challenge. Shoot, it can be corner challenge. We've seen corners play tight ends in the past. I think you're dealing with a real good foot athlete and you can see him transition. He has bend and along with his speed that bend allows you to separate. You can work on it, you can try to improve that, but he's become a very savvy route runner with good speed and good run after the catch. How do you handle him? Today's third down, he's their leading receiver on third down target wise. How do you handle him on third down? It's not just the same person throughout the game plan. There's a certain pressure on, it might be a linebacker or safety vice versa. I think the look's being somewhat different and then ultimately the first thing that can help is a quicker clock for the quarterback and it becomes more challenging. In other words, it's rush driven. We are seeing that from their defense."
QB Drew Brees on the challenges of facing the 49ers defense:
"They've been pretty dominant. First off, they have really good players across the board and there are no weak links. They're all very, very good players, very talented. Big, strong, physical and very well coached. Just very sound in everything that they do. The statistics reflect it, the numbers reflect it, the wins reflect it. They're a stout group."
Brees on his impressions of Jimmy Garoppolo:
"He's played very well, since he got there two years ago as the starter there towards the last half of that season and I know he got injured early last year, but man, he's played very well. That whole team in all phases, right? Great quarterback play, great running game, great defense, good special teams and hence why they are 10-2.
"I think he's got good poise and composure. I think he throws the ball very well. He's a very good passer. I think he anticipates well. I think he processes it well, just from what I see."
DL Sheldon Rankins on what he's seen from this 49ers team:
"When you watch them on tape, they're talented at every level. They've got playmakers. They've got guys who can really change the game at just about every position. For us, we're going to have to be on it. We're going to have to be on our p's and q's and not allow dumb things, foolish things, mistakes, errors and penalties to reel us back."
TE Jared Cook on the 49ers defense:
"It's probably one of the best groups that play together collectively. They have a good front seven. They have good, smart linebackers. Good D-ends, good D-tackles, Pro Bowl-type caliber guys and a pretty good secondary. We definitely have to have our focus up this week."
S Vonn Bell on the 49ers rushing attack:
"They hit them edges fast. That's why we have to set the edge with leverage, leveraging the ball. Getting guys setting a wall in the run game and just running and hitting. Really fitting out this run because they can run all day and that's what they've been doing to teams all year."
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