49ers must show they can beat good teams

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – If they lose Sunday at New Orleans, the question as the playoffs approach will be: Can the San Francisco 49ers beat a quality team?

In fact, there are already whispers about it.

After losing to Carolina last weekend, the 49ers are 2-3 against teams with winning records. They are 4-0 against teams with losing records. The 49ers are averaging 35.5 points a game against teams with losing records. Against the winners, that average falls to 17 points.

San Francisco will be challenged Sunday. The Saints are 7-2. They are 5-0 at home and have won each of their last four games there by at least two touchdowns.

The 49ers would, of course, have to beat winning teams in the postseason. But this won't be their only such test before then. In December they will face both Seattle and Arizona.