49ers

Saints-49ers division-round capsule

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Saints-49ers division-round capsule

NEW ORLEANS (14-3) at SAN FRANCISCO (13-3)Saturday, 4:30 p.m., Fox

OPENING LINE: Saints by 3

RECORD VS. SPREAD: New Orleans 13-4; San Francisco 11-4-1

SERIES RECORD: 49ers lead 45-24-2

LAST MEETING: Saints beat 49ers 25-22, Sept. 10, 2010

LAST WEEK: Saints beat Lions 45-28; 49ers had bye

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES: Saints have won six straight against 49ers since losing 2001 season finale in final game before leaving NFC West. ... Saints set NFL record by converting league-best 56.7 percent of third-down conversions, including 41.3 percent when needing at least 10 yards. Niners second to last, converting 29.4 percent of third downs. ... New Orleans has topped 600 yards past two weeks, including playoff-record 626 against Detroit. New England is only other team to gain 600 yards in game this season. ... Saints 9-0 at home this season, averaging 41.6 points and 507.4 yards per game, compared to 5-3 on road with 27.3 points and 441.6 yards per game. ... New Orleans has lost all four road playoff games in franchise history. ... Saints QB Drew Brees has thrown for 5,942 yards, including his one postseason game, second to Dan Marino's 6,085 in the 1984 regular and postseason. ... San Francisco playing first playoff game since after 2002 season. Only long snapper Brian Jennings remains from that team. ... 49ers had plus-28 turnover margin, leading league in both takeaways with 28 and fewest giveaways with 10. ... San Francisco had best average starting spot for drives on offense and defense this season, starting own drives on average at the 33.5 and opponents at the 24.3. ... 49ers allowed three rushing TDs - all in final two games - the fewest ever in 16-game season. ... San Francisco QB Alex Smith completed just 40 percent of his passes in red zone, the lowest figure among 24 QBs with at least 40 throws inside opponent's 20. ... 49ers had 22 TDs in 54 red-zone trips this season, third lowest rate in NFL. ... San Francisco K David Akers set NFL record with 44 field goals this season, including seven from at least 50 yards.

Montana, Clark scheduled to address crowd at Levi's Stadium

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AP

Montana, Clark scheduled to address crowd at Levi's Stadium

SANTA CLARA -- Dwight Clark and Joe Montana are scheduled to address the crowd Sunday at Levi’s Stadium at halftime of the 49ers’ game against the Dallas Cowboys.

It should be an emotional day, as 36 members from the team that defeated Dallas in the NFC Championship Game and went on to the franchise’s first Super Bowl title are expected to attend.

Montana is scheduled to be surrounded by his former teammates and speak from the field at halftime. Clark is likely to be situated in a suite, where he is expected to make some remarks. Clark, 60, announced in March he was diagnosed with ALS.

Former 49ers offensive lineman Randy Cross, appearing on the 49ers Insider Podcast, said he is looking forward to seeing so many of his teammates from the squad that served as a springboard for five Super Bowl titles under the ownership of Hall of Famer Eddie DeBartolo.

“I can’t wait to see (Clark),” Cross said. “I can’t wait to see Eddie. I can’t wait to see Joe. There is a core group of guys I’ve gotten to see a few times a year since we all went our separate ways. There are guys I’ll get a chance to see, in some cases, (for the first time) since almost around the time we parted ways in the early-‘80s.”

The NFC Championship Game on Jan. 10, 1982, is best-remembered for “The Catch” – Clark’s leaping, finger-tip grab of a Montana pass for a 6-yard touchdown with 51 seconds remaining.

The 49ers defeated the Cowboys 28-27 at Candlestick Park. Coach Bill Walsh’s team went on to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals, 26-21, in Super Bowl XVI.

“For those of us who played on the Niners charity basketball team with both Joe and Dwight, and knowing their hoop skills and the way they could jump, we weren’t terribly surprised at: A, how high he threw it; and, B, how high Dwight got,” said Cross, who was blocking from his right guard position near the sideline and had an unobstructed view of the play.

“If Dwight got his fingers on it, it was going to be a catch. That was the thing about D.C., you won’t find too many instances in which he had a ball on him or near him that he dropped. There wasn’t much doubt.”

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

Kyle Shanahan is, self admittedly, not a patient person. As he watched quarterback C.J. Beathard run the scout team over the last couple of weeks -- how he visualized an unfamiliar play, went through his progressions and handled the defensive coverages -- the head coach saw rapid improvement every day. But he suppressed any urge to play the rookie before he was ready.

“I tried to wait for the right time for him and the right time for the team,” Shanahan explained.

Down 14-0 to Washington halfway through the second quarter with starter Brian Hoyer struggling, Shanahan knew Beathard’s time had come.

“I felt the team needed it right then,” Shanahan said. “It also made me more confident to do it because I thought he was ready for it, also.”

Moments after the game was over, Shanahan named Beathard the starter. Watching the game tape on the flight home only bolstered his decision.

“By no means was he perfect, missed a couple of things, but that always happens,” Shanahan said. “I thought he came in there, didn’t hesitate, competed. The moment was not too big for him. Made a few plays in rhythm, made a few off schedule plays and was a big reason we got back in that game.”

Beathard led the 49ers on two scoring drives and finished 19-of-36 with 245 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception, though it came on fourth-and-20 on his final pass attempt of the game. On his 45-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson, Beathard extended the play when the fifth year receiver wasn’t where he expected him to be.

“He was supposed to go to the post for a certain coverage, and they had a busted coverage, so he just hung out there which is why C.J. didn’t see it right away,” Shanahan explained. “We had enough protection where he could take a couple more hitches. He drove the pocket and saw where Aldrick was, and he didn’t hesitate. Made that throw with that arm strength.”

Shanahan smirked at his not-so-subtle dig at those who questioned Beathard’s arm strength during the draft process. He sees a quarterback who can make all the throws, and make them from the pocket, and scramble when he needs to. All he needs now, Shanahan contends, is experience.

“It’s about playing in the game and reacting to defenses, reacting to coverages, reacting to adjustments. He’s going to see a lot of things he hasn’t seen before, and that will change each week. It will probably change each quarter.”

Helping Beathard continue to grow through those experiences will require patience, but in this situation, it’s the kind the head coach can handle.

“You’re never going to get a quick answer. You see over time, but he’s got the ability to do it. He’s got the mental toughness to do it. I think he will get better the more he plays.”