x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Super Bowl champions are next obstacle for troubled San Francisco

The San Francisco 49ers certainly did not expect to be winless and already down in the division race at this early stage of the NFL season.

SAN FRANCISCO // The San Francisco 49ers certainly did not expect to be winless and already down in the division race at this early stage of the NFL season. Especially not with the Super Bowl champions coming to town tonight. An embarrassing 31-6 defeat at Seattle in which little went right altered things for a team that had such high hopes of dominating the NFC West. The 49ers must now beat the well-rested New Orleans Saints (1-0) to avoid dropping into a bigger hole at 0-2. The Saints, who have won the last five meetings with the Niners, are trying to begin 2-0 in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history. If the 49ers play like they did against the Seahawks, it would seem possible.

"You can be great in the pre-season, but until you play that first game there are some things that maybe during pre-season you think, 'That's going to be OK,'" Mike Singletary, the San Francisco coach, said. "And you play the first game and you realise, it is definitely not going to be OK, we have got to fix it. And plus, that first game is on the road. Like I said, I think it will serve its purpose very well."

Singletary called a team meeting last Sunday as soon as the Niners returned to their facility from Seattle to clear the air with his players. "I think the team is frustrated," Alex Smith, the quarterback, said. "But you have that 24-hour window, 48-hour window where we're going to learn from it. You're going to watch the film, you're going to meet, it's not going to taste good, it's not going to feel good, but that's part of the deal. We've got to get better. It's a long season. "

* Associated Press