Saints Vs. 49ers, 2012 NFL Playoffs: San Francisco Escapes Shadow Of Goalposts

The San Francisco 49ers' offense isn't expected to do much against the New Orleans Saints today, but winning the field position battle might be a step in the right direction for San Fran. Their opening salvo in that fight was a good one.

After recovering a fumble by Pierre Thomas within their own 5, the 49ers did well on the ground in the early goings, getting two carries from Frank Gore for 20 yards and making their way to near midfield. But a big sack from the Saints on third down stalled the San Francisco drive, and Andy Lee was forced to punt.

SI.com: Saints-49ers live boxscore

Another promising sign for the Niners? Alex Smith completed three of his five passes for 25 yards on the opening drive. Nothing unbelievable and nothing embarrassing has been Smith's baseline this season, and it's worked for the 49ers.

For more on the 49ers, check out Niners Nation and SB Nation Bay Area, and for the Saints check out Canal Street Chronicles. Here's a look at the complete 2012 NFL playoffs schedule.

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