Tag Archives: 49ers

Saints officially put CB Greer on injured reserve

The Saints put cornerback Jabari Greer on injured reserve Tuesday, ending his season after he tore the ACL in his left knee in Sunday’s 23-20 win against the San Francisco 49ers.

Greer was injured midway through the first quarter when he came down awkwardly on his left leg while trying to break up a deep pass for 49ers wide receiver Jon Baldwin.

Saints coach Sean Payton said Greer, a 10-year veteran, met with doctors on Monday and will have surgery soon. He’ll be replaced in the starting lineup by second-year pro Corey White, who had an interception and a fumble on the same play Sunday after Greer was hurt.

“It’s obviously a setback … tough for our team and tough for him,” Payton said of Greer after Tuesday’s practice. “He’s been playing very well.”

The Saints’ defense ranks third in the NFL against the pass this season in allowing just 191.4 yards per game.

The Saints signed cornerback Trevin Wade, a seventh-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2012, to take Greer’s roster spot. Wade played in 11 games last season, but was cut during training camp this summer.

BREES-BROOKS CONTROVERSY: Former NFL linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Ray Lewis were among the players who came to the aid of 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks after he was called for a personal foul penalty against Drew Brees on Sunday.

As the Saints tried to get into position for a game-tying field goal with just more than three minutes left, Brooks barged into the backfield and struck Brees in the neck with a forearm. Brees fumbled and the 49ers recovered, but the Saints retained possession when referee Tony Corrente flagged Brooks.

Lewis, a former All-Pro who now works for ESPN, said he’ll pay part of Brooks’ fine if he’s disciplined by the NFL for a hit to the neck and head area of a defenseless player. Bruschi, who is also an ESPN analyst, urged Brees to “get tough.”

Brees, who described the hit as a clothes-line tackle, got off the turf with a bloodied lip. Brooks claimed Brees “ducked his shoulder” at the last second as he was trying to knock the ball out of his hand.

“I don’t think what Ahmad Brooks did was intentional at all,” Brees said. “I think he’s a heck of a football player and a clean football player. … A hard-nosed, clean football player.

“You can slow (the replay) down all you want and watch it and say, ‘Look where the arm is,’” he added. “But I can tell you how I felt when I got hit. It felt like I got my head ripped off. I get up and I’ve got a mouth full of blood. There was no doubt in my mind it was going to be a penalty, but it is hard.”

PRACTICE REPORT: After being sidelined for practice and the game against the 49ers with concussions, Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro and tight end Benjamin Watson returned to work Tuesday.

Even though both were limited, it was more than they did all last week.

The only Saints who didn’t practice were G Jahri Evans (ankle) and RB Darren Sproles (knee/ankle).

DE Cameron Jordan (ankle), LB Curtis Lofton (hamstring/ankle), TE Jimmy Graham (elbow/foot), G Ben Grubbs (neck), DE Akiem Hicks (back), CB Chris Carr (hip/back/hamstring), DE Tyrunn Walker (knee) and CB Rod Sweeting (hip) were limited along with Vaccaro and Watson.

BUTLER PRACTICES: Saints outside linebacker Victor Butler, who is on the physically-unable-to-perform list after having surgery on a torn ACL in June, returned to practice Tuesday.

According to NFL rules, Tuesday was the last day Butler could return to practice and be activated this season. The Saints have 21 days in which to put him on the active roster or injured reserve — or release him.

“We’ll kind of see each week, practice by practice, how he’s doing,” Payton said. “It was good to see him out there.”

GONZALEZ SITS OUT: For the Falcons, TE Tony Gonzalez (toe) and DE Malliciah Goodman (calf) did not practice Tuesday.

Among the players who had limited participation were DT Jonathan Babineaux (triceps), DT Peria Jerry (shoulder), RB Jacquizz Rodgers (ankle), T Jeremy Trueblood (knee/hip) and LB Paul Worrilow (shoulder).

SAINTS FEATURED: The Saints-49ers game will be featured on NBCSN’s weekly NFL Turning Point show at 11 p.m. Wednesday.

The show will examine how the Saints’ defense stopped the 49ers on third down and limited the Niners’ potent running game to just 81 yards and an average of 3.7 yards per attempt — as well as Brooks’ crucial penalty.

Saints rise to fourth in total defense in latest NFL stats

After holding their opponent to fewer than 200 yards for the second week in a row, the Saints’ defense moved up three more spots to fourth in total yards allowed in the updated NFL stats.

The Saints held the San Francisco 49ers to 196 total yards after giving up 191 in their previous game against the Dallas Cowboys and soared from seventh to fourth.

The Saints, who were allowing 333.1 yards per game just two weeks ago following a 26-20 loss to the New York Jets, are giving up 305.4 yards a game.

They also moved up six spots in rushing defense from 23rd to 17th after limiting the 49ers to 81 yards, dropping their average this season to 114.0 yards per game. They remained third in passing defense at 191.4 yards per game and are still fifth in scoring defense in allowing 18.3 points a game.

Offensively, the Saints remained in the same spot in four major categories — second in total yards (419.1), passing (321.9) and scoring (28.8) and 23rd in rushing (97.2).

Here are the pertinent numbers for Thursday night’s game with the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome:

SAINTS (8-2)

Offense: Total yards, 419.1 (2); rushing, 97.2 (23); passing, 321.9 (2); scoring, 28.8 (2).

Defense: Total yards, 305.4 (4); rushing, 114.0 (17); passing, 191.4 (3); scoring, 18.3 (5).

Turnover differential: Plus-3 (t12)/13 giveaways (8 interceptions, 5 fumbles), 16 takeaways (10 interceptions, 6 fumble recoveries).

FALCONS (2-8)

Offense: Total yards, 347.5 (14); rushing, 73.1 (31); passing, 274.4 (6); scoring, 21.4 (t22).

Defense: Total yards, 381.9 (26); rushing, 132.7 (30); passing, 249.2 (22); scoring, 29.2 (29).

Turnover differential: Minus-11 (t29)/19 giveaways (12 interceptions, 7 fumbles), 8 takeaways (6 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries).

Saints’ Brees throws 350th TD pass of NFL career

Saints quarterback Drew Brees tossed the 350th touchdown pass of his 13-year career in the first quarter of Sunday’s 23-20 win against the San Francisco 49ers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Brees flipped a 3-yard scoring pass to rookie tight end Josh Hill with 44 seconds to play in the opening period to become just the fourth NFL player with 350 TDs.

Brees trails only Brett Favre (508), Peyton Manning (470) and Dan Marino (420).

Brees also became the sixth quarterback in NFL history to reach 49,000 career passing yards — fittingly enough — against the 49ers and finished the day with 49,288 yards. Only Favre, Manning, Marino, John Elway and Warren Moon have more yards.

BREAKING ONE: The Saints’ special teams have had trouble breaking a big return this season, but second-year pro Travaris Cadet changed that with a long kickoff return after the 49ers’ Phil Dawson gave his team a 10-7 on a 55-yard field goal.

Cadet took the kick 3 yards deep in the end zone and was chased down 82 yards later by 49ers cornerback Tramaine Brock at the 21.

The return was 50 yards longer than the previous long this season of 32 yards for the Saints, who were averaging just 20.4 yards per return this season, and led to a 1-yard TD run by Jed Collins for a 14-10 halftime lead.

“It was a big play and we executed it well,” said Cadet, who had a 75-yard return at Oakland last season. “I saw a big hole and just hit it. It felt real good because when my number is called, it’s my job to step up and execute.”

WELCOME BACK: Both teams had two key players available Sunday when safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper returned from injuries for the Saints and safety Eric Reid and tight end Vernon Davis played after being questionable for the game.

Jenkins missed the past two games with a hamstring injury and Harper missed seven games in a row with a knee problem. Jenkins started and Harper came in on the game’s third play.

Reid, a former LSU star, and Davis played despite being limited in practice after suffering concussions in last week’s game. Reid tied for second on the 49ers’ defense with six tackles.

INACTIVES: The Saints’ inactives were S Kenny Vaccaro (concussion), TE Benjamin Watson (concussion), DE Tyrunn Walker, T Terron Armstead, CB Rod Sweeting, RB Khiry Robinson and QB Ryan Griffin.

Inactives of note for the 49ers were DT Ray McDonald (ankle), TE Garrett Celek (hamstring) and WR Quinton Patton (foot). Patton played his college ball at Louisiana Tech.

INJURIES: Saints CB Jabari Greer was fitted with an inflatable cast after suffering an injury to his lower left leg while breaking up a deep pass intended for 49ers wide receiver Jon Baldwin in the first quarter. … 49ers CB Tarell Brown suffered a rib contusion in the second quarter and didn’t return.

FAMILIAR FACES: In addition to Reid and Patton, the 49ers also have former LSU defensive tackle on their roster as well as center Jonathan Goodwin, who played for the Saints from 2006-10 and started for their Super Bowl-winning team in 2009.

LAGNIAPPE: The Saints’ 97-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter was their longest of the season. … The Saints’ defense stopped the 49ers on their first three possessions to extend a streak of third-down stops to 16 in a row dating to the New York Jets game on Nov. 3. … The touchdown catch for Hill from Brees in the first quarter was his first scoring grab as a pro. … Former Saints defensive tackle La’Roi Glover was recognized at halftime for his induction into the team’s Hall of Fame on Friday. … Saints linebacker Parys Haralson, who played seven seasons with the 49ers before being traded to New Orleans on Aug. 27, was selected by Brees to start the “Who Dat!” chant before the game. … Saints guard Ben Grubbs played in his 100th NFL game.

Saints get Jenkins, Harper back; 49ers’ Reid active

There were no surprises on the Saints’ list of inactives for Sunday’s game with the San Francisco 49ers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, but what was more significant was who was active for both teams.

The Saints will have starting safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper back, while the Niners will have safety Eric Reid, a former LSU standout, and tight end Vernon Davis available for the contest.

Jenkins missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, while Harper was sidelined for seven games in a row because of a knee injury.

Reid was listed as questionable on Friday by coach Jim Harbaugh after suffering his second concussion in two months last week against the Carolina Panthers.

Davis also had a concussion against the Panthers and he and Reid were limited in practice all week after being cleared to light duty.

Inactive for the Saints are S Kenny Vaccaro (concussion), TE Benjamin Watson (concussion), DE Tyrunn Walker, T Terron Armstead, CB Rod Sweeting, RB Khiry Robinson and QB Ryan Griffin.

The 49ers’ inactives are DT Ray McDonald (ankle), TE Garrett Celek (hamstring), WR Quinton Patton (foot), G Joe Looney, DT Tank Carradine, LB Nick Moody and QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Saints’ defense impresses 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh

After rolling the Saints twice in the past two seasons for 782 total yards and 67 points, the San Francisco 49ers will face a far different defense in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday.

In a matchup of two teams that eventually hope to be in line for first-round playoff byes and home-field advantage in January, the Saints and 49ers will at the least be vying for a potential tie-breaking edge.

This time, the Saints, who dropped a 36-32 decision to the 49ers in an NFC divisional playoff game in 2011 and were pounded 31-21 last November in the Superdome, hope to return the favor against the Niners offense.

After the worst season statistically in NFL history a year ago, the Saints rank seventh in total defense under first-year coordinator Rob Ryan. They allow 317.6 yards per game and are fifth in scoring defense at 18.1 per contest.

They also rank third against the pass at 199.9 yards per game.

Niners coach Jim Harbaugh has noticed the transformation.

“I think that, as always, the job you do speaks for itself and (Ryan’s) coached a lot of guys,” Harbaugh said, noting the many injuries the Saints have had on that side of the ball. “He has coached a lot of guys, put them in a lot of different positions, and they understand what he’s trying to get done as a coordinator of the defense.

“That speaks volumes when you can teach that many people to play that many different spots and roles. That speaks volumes right there.”

GETTING IT DONE: Through nine games, the Saints are the only team in the NFL to rank in the league’s top 10 in four key statistical categories — including scoring offense and scoring defense.

The Saints rank second in scoring at 29.4 points per game and fifth in scoring defense at 18.1 points.

They also rank in the league’s top 10 in total offense and total defense. They’re second in offense (422.7 yards per game) and seventh in defense (317.6).

Only two other teams — the Texans and Bengals — rank in the top 10 in both offense and defense. The Texans are ninth (offense) and first (defense), while the Bengals are eighth (offense) and fourth (defense) — but come up short in scoring and scoring defense.

PRACTICE REPORT: Only two players didn’t practice Thursday for the Saints as safety Kenny Vaccaro and tight end Benjamin Watson missed a second day of work with concussions.

LB Curtis Lofton (hamstring/ankle) and DE Akiem Hicks (back) worked on a limited basis after being sidelined Wednesday. TE Jimmy Graham (elbow/foot) and DE Cameron Jordan (ankle) were also limited.

FS Malcolm Jenkins (hamstring), SS Roman Harper (knee) and DE Tyrunn Walker (knee) had full participation once again.

For the 49ers, DT Ray McDonald (ankle) and TE Garrett Celek (hamstring) didn’t practice, while DT Justin Smith (shoulder), S Eric Reid (concussion), TE Vernon Davis (concussion) and WR Mario Manningham (knee) were limited. Reid is a former LSU standout.

DIALING UP 500: When the Saints set a franchise record with 625 total yards in Sunday’s 49-17 belting of the Dallas Cowboys, it was the 15th time they had rolled up 500 yards under Sean Payton since he took over in 2006.

The Saints, who topped last week’s total with 626 yards in a playoff game against the Detroit Lions following the 2011 season, are 11-4 when they pick up 500 yards or more.

Their other 600-yard performance came the week before the win over the Lions when they pounded the Carolina Panthers for 617 yards — helping them set an NFL single-season record with 7,474 yards.

LIGHTS OUT?: The 49ers will make their third visit to the Superdome in the past 12 months, but the first since the lights went out early in the third quarter of their 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3 — causing a 34-minute delay.

On a conference call Wednesday, a reporter jokingly asked Harbaugh, whose team rallied from a large deficit after the power outage, if he had checked on the electricity for Sunday.

Harbaugh replied: “No, I haven’t. … Have you? I guess we’ve got some duties today.”

Payton was asked about the electrical problem as well.

“I was there, and a lot of people pinned it on me,” he cracked. “I still don’t know what happened.”

Saints’ Haralson ready to face former teammates

Parys Haralson tried to pretend that he didn’t know why a pack of reporters were waiting for him in the Saints’ locker room after practice on Wednesday.

But when he turned to face the group, Haralson knew exactly what was coming considering the Saints are preparing to go against his former team — the San Francisco 49ers — on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

After seven seasons with the 49ers, of which five were spent as a starter, Haralson was dealt to the Saints on Aug. 27 for a 2014 draft pick when outside linebacker Will Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury.

It’ll be hard to go against his old teammates, Haralson said, but he knows it’s part of the business.

“I really look at it as a regular game, and I don’t say that because it’s probably the right thing to say,” said Haralson, who lost his starting job in 2012 when he was sidelined with a triceps injury. “You don’t want to go out and say something hurtful. But that’s really how I feel.

“There’s a bunch of guys I played with over there,” he added. “I’ve got a bunch of friends in that locker room that will be my friends for life. But I’m a saint now and it’s one of those things got to be prepared for and go out and play your best.”

INGRAM REFLECTS: After rushing for a career-high 145 yards on just 14 carries in Sunday’s 49-17 romp against the Dallas Cowboys, Saints running back Mark Ingram admitted Wednesday that he played with more emotion than usual.

Maybe too much, he said.

Ingram, who missed five games with a toe injury and had 50 rushing yards in the three games he played, celebrated a 13-yard run in the second quarter by spinning the ball on the ground — drawing 5-yard delay of game penalty.

“I always play with a lot of emotion, with a chip on my shoulder, but it just came out a little bit more Sunday,” he said. “The reason? Who knows? I was just feeling it, man, and it just came out.

“That’s how I play, with a lot of emotion and a lot of passion, and I just have to control it a little better so I don’t hurt the team and get us penalties or anything like that. I guess it did come out a little more than usual.”

JENKINS WORKS: The Saints were thin at safety in the second half against the Cowboys with starters Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper inactive and Kenny Vaccaro leaving in the third period with a concussion that he said will sideline him for this week’s game.

But Jenkins, who had a knee injury, worked when the team returned to the practice field on Wednesday after almost playing against the Cowboys. He showed up on the practice report Wednesday with a hamstring injury.

“It was a close call last week. … We worked out before the game and just kind of decided it was probably smarter to wait,” he noted. “In hindsight, I think that was a good decision. I felt pretty good in practice today, I’ll just take it day by day and hopefully game time I’ll be ready.”

PRACTICE REPORT: Not practicing for the Saints were Vaccaro (concussion), TE Benjamin Watson (concussion), LB Curtis Lofton (hamstring/ankle) and DE Akiem Hicks (back).

TE Jimmy Graham (elbow/foot) and DE Cameron Jordan (ankle) were limited, while Jenkins (hamstring), Harper (knee) and DE Tyrunn Walker (knee) were full.

For the 49ers, DT Ray McDonald (ankle), DT Justin Smith (shoulder) and TE Garrett Celek (hamstring) didn’t practice, while S Eric Reid (concussion), TE Vernon Davis (concussion) and WR Mario Manningham (knee) were limited. Reid is a former LSU standout.

NFC’S BEST: Saints quarterback Drew Brees was named Wednesday the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season.

Brees completed 34 of 41 pass attempts — hitting 19 in a row in the first half to match his personal-best streak —- for 392 yards. He had four TDs and compiled a passer rating of 139.0.

Since joining the Saints in 2006, Brees has won 16 NFC Offensive Player of Week Awards. That ties him for the most in the NFL with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

HALL OF FAME WEEKEND: Tickets are still available for the Saints Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon, which will be held at noon Friday at the Airport Hilton in Kenner, and the All Saints Night Gala on Saturday night at Champions Square next to the Superdome.

Former Saints defensive tackle La’Roi Glover will be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame and long-time journalist Peter Finney will receive the Joe Gemelli Fleur de Lis award for his contributions to the organization. For tickets, call (504) 450-9893.

VOTING ENDS FRIDAY: Brees, Ingram and wide receiver Kenny Stills are all up for awards that are determined by online fan voting.

Brees is a candidate for the FedEx NFL Air Player of the Week honor and Ingram is up for the FedEx Ground Player of the Week award. Stills, who had a 52-yard TD reception against the Cowboys , is a candidate for the Pepsi Next Rookie of the Week honor.

Fans can vote online at www.nfl.com until Friday morning.

Saints’ offense, defense move up in latest NFL stats

Following their dominating performance on both sides of the ball in a 49-17 blowout of the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, the Saints moved up at least two spots in six of eight major NFL statistical categories.

In the latest stats, the Saints (7-2) moved up five spots in total offense and scoring and three spots in rushing offense. They also improved two spots in passing offense after piling up a club-record 625 total yards.

The Saints’ offense is now second in total yards (422.7 yards per game), passing (324.9) and scoring (29.4 points per game). They’re 23rd in rushing offense (97.8) after their season-high 242-yard output helped their average 18 yards to 97.8 yards a game.

Defensive, the Saints moved up two spots in total yards allowed and rushing defense and inched up one spot against the pass. They remained fifth in scoring defense at 18.1 points per game.

The Saints now rank seventh in allowing 317.6 yards per game, but they’re third against the pass at 199.9 yards per outing after the Cowboys finished with just 104 net passing yards. Quarterback Tony Romo was 10 of 24 for 128 yards.

Here are the pertinent numbers for Sunday’s game with the San Francisco 49ers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome:

SAINTS (7-2)

Offense: Total yards, 422.7 (2); rushing, 97.8 (23); passing, 324.9 (2); scoring, 29.4 (2).

Defense: Total yards, 317.6 (7); rushing, 117.3 (23); passing, 199.9 (3); scoring, 18.1 (5).

Turnover differential: Plus-5 (t7)/10 giveaways (7 interceptions, 3 fumbles), 15 takeaways (9 interceptions, 6 fumble recoveries).

49ERS (6-3)

Offense: Total yards, 321.6 (22); rushing, 147.7 (4); passing, 173.9 (32); scoring, 25.2 (t2).

Defense: Total yards, 316.8 (6); rushing, 105.3 (12); passing, 211.4 (9); scoring, 17.2 (4).

Turnover differential: Plus-4 (t9)/14 giveaways (6 interceptions, 8 fumbles), 18 takeaways (10 interceptions, 8 fumble recoveries).

Saints showing interest in Jean-Francois

The Saints are among four teams that have shown an interest in former LSU defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois, who is expected to become an nrestricted free agent at 3 p.m. CDT today.

The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday morning that the Saints, Colts, Eagles and Titans have shown an interest in Jean-Francois, who has played the past four seasons with the 49ers.

According to Rapoport, Jean-Francois plans to visit the clubs before making a decision.

Jean-Francois played on LSU’s BCS National Championship team in 2007 and was on the 49ers’ team that lost to the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3 in New Orleans. He has played in 51 career games with the Niners, with whom he had a career-high 22 tackles last season.

Saints’ Colston sets franchise record with 56th career TD

NEW ORLEANS – For the second straight week, Saints wide receiver Marques Colston recorded a significant milestone — this time setting the franchise record for career touchdowns in Sunday’s 31-21 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Colston caught a 10-yard scoring pass from Drew Brees with 7:53 left in the second quarter, which was the 56th touchdown of his seven-year career.

That enabled Colston, who caught his 500th career pass last Sunday, to break a tie with Deuce McAllister, who had 55 touchdowns from 2001-08.

BUNKLEY EJECTED: Saints defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley was disqualified from the game after free safety Malcolm Jenkins blocked a 32-yard field-goal attempt by the 49ers with 1:05 left in the contest.

Bunkley was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and ejected. TV replays showed he kicked 49ers offensive lineman Alex Boone in the helmet while Boone was lying on the ground.

“One of the keys to this game is keeping your poise,” Saints interim coach Joe Vitt said. “He’s got to keep his emotions under control and do the right thing.”

TOUGH TIMES: Rookie Bryce Harris got his first NFL start at right tackle because Zach Strief and backup Charles Brown were sidelined with injuries, but Harris was lost on the Saints’ 12th play while blocking on a running play.

Harris didn’t return after suffering an injury to his right leg. He was replaced by William Robinson, who was signed just Wednesday after Brown went down with a knee injury last week.

SPROLES RETURNS: Running back Darren Sproles was active Sunday for the first time since fracturing his left hand on Oct. 28.

Sproles did not have a rushing attempt, but he led the team in receptions (seven) and receiving yards (65) and returned one punt for 3 yards.

INACTIVES: The Saints’ inactives were Strief (groin), Brown (knee), CB Corey White (knee), DE Junior Galette (ankle), CB Elbert Mack (concussion), LB Scott Shanle, and DT Tyrunn Walker.

The only inactive of note for the 49ers was RB LaMichael James.

INJURIES: In addition to Harris, Saints wide receivers Marques Colston and Lance Moore went to the locker room to be checked for concussions after taking hits to the head in the second half. But both returned.

Niners running back Kendall Hunter (ankle) and wide receiver Kyle Williams (knee) were hurt on the same play in the third quarter and neither returned.

STREAK ENDS: The Saints’ streak of 14 consecutive wins in November came to an end with the loss to the 49ers after winning all three games played earlier this month. Their last loss in the month came at Tampa Bay on Nov. 30, 2008.

LAGNIAPPE: The Saints are 19-28 when Brees has at least 40 pass attempts after throwing 41 Sunday. They’re 48-12 when he throws fewer than 40. … Brees did extend his two NFL-record streaks with a TD pass in his 54th straight game and had at least 20 completions for the 47th consecutive game. … Rookie running back Travaris Cadet again returned kickoffs even though Sproles was back and averaged 29.6 yards per return with a long of 36. … Running back Chris Ivory, who didn’t play in the first seven games, made his first start of the season.

Saints’ RB Sproles active for crucial game with 49ers

NEW ORLEANS – Saints running back Darren Sproles is active for today’s game with the San Francisco 49ers for the first time since fracturing his left hand on Oct. 28.

Sproles, who had an NFL playoff-record 15 catches in the Saints’ 36-32 loss to the 49ers in the divisional playoffs last Jan. 14, missed three games after having surgery to repair the hand he fractured in an Oct. 28 game with the Denver Broncos.

Saints right tackle Zach Strief, who returned to practice this week on a limited basis, is among the Saints’ inactives. He’ll miss his third straight game since having a procedure on his groin to repair a core muscle.

INACTIVES: The other Saints’ inactives are CB Corey White (knee), DE Junior Galette (ankle), T Charles Brown (knee), CB Elbert Mack (concussion), LB Scott Shanle, and DT Tyrunn Walker.

The Niners’ inactives are FB Will Tukuafu (wrist), QB Scott Tolzien, WR A.J. Jenkins, RB LaMichael James, S Trenton Robinson, G Joe Looney, and NT Ian Williams.

SMITH ACTIVE: 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, who started the first nine games but missed Monday night’s 32-7 blowout of the Chicago Bears, is active.

However, second-year pro Colin Kaepernick is expected to start his second NFL game.