The goal was to win in the Superdome no matter who was under center for the 49ers. Colin Kaepernick was called to play instead of Alex Smith despite the fact it was Smith who managed to lead the 49ers to victory over the Saints last January. The result, however, was the same.
The San Francisco 49ers managed to pull out a win over the Saints in the New Orleans 31-21 thanks to some Colin Kaepernick highlights and a couple of scoring turnovers. Kaepernick managed to go 16/25 for 231 passing yards and a TD pass to Frank Gore in the 2nd half’s opening drive to give the 49ers a 7 point lead. Kaepernick also ran it 6 times for 27 yards which included a 7 yard TD run in the 1st quarter which were the first points of the game for either team.
While Drew Brees of the Saints was keeping them in it going 26/41 with 267 passing yards and 3 TDs, Brees was sacked 5 times in the game and threw two interceptions, both of which were returned for touchdowns. First one was picked off by LB Ahmad Brooks for a 50 yard score with 22 seconds in the 1st half which tied the game at 14-14. The 2nd one was picked off by Safety Donte Whitner for a 42 yard score early in the 3rd quarter to give the 49ers a 28-14 lead. Despite being in different quarters, Brees threw the interceptions on back-to-back passes.
“They’re a good defense,” Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt said of the 49ers. “When you lose your right tackle and you’ve got to play with a young man who’s been here four days, that’s a tough challenge.”
San Francisco advances to 8-2-1 and take a 2.5 game over the Seahawks in the NFC West as Seattle lost to Miami 24-21 earlier in the day. New Orleans, meanwhile, fails to take advantage of Seattle, Minnesota, and Tampa Bay all losing their games and instead stay one game behind in the Wild Card hunt falling to 5-6.
Of Brees’ 3 TD passes, his 2nd one went to Marques Colston who caught his 56th TD catch with the club which is a Saints record.
Colin Kaepernick made some mistakes himself as he threw his first interception in his NFL career. He was picked off by CB Patrick Robinson throwing the ball after a poor snap in shotgun with under a minute left in the 1st half. It did not hurt San Francisco, though, as Ahmad Brooks would pick off Drew Brees for a TD two plays into the Saints drive.
As for run vs. run, the 49ers rushed for 144 yards on the ground while the Saints only had 59 rushing yards. Frank Gore was the top runner of the game with 83 yards on 19 carries.
Receivers for the 49ers were highlighted by Mario Manningham and TE Delanie Walker. Manningham had 5 catches for 69 yards including a 40 yard catch in the first quarter which help set up Kaepernick’s TD run. Delanie Walker had 3 receptions for 81 yards including a 45 yard catch in the beginning of the 3rd quarter that help set up the Frank Gore’s TD catch. The main TE Vernon Davis didn’t have a catch all day as he dropped the only hard ball thrown his way.
Though the win was achieved, it might’ve come at a cost. 49ers RB Kendall Hunter and WR Kyle Williams were both injured on a 2 yard rush play by Hunter. Neither player returned to the game. Kyle Williams was in the game as a Kick Returner and also a Punt Returner after Ted Ginn Jr. dropped a punt return which was recovered by Rafael Bush of the Saints. That lead to the Marques Colston touchdown catch in the 2nd quarter.
A two yard TD pass to Jed Collins in the third quarter were the last points scored by the Saints and they were still down by 7 at that point. After another punt from Thomas Morstead of the Saints that left 2:18 in the 3rd quarter, the 49ers went on the longest drive of the season that killed nearly 9 and half minutes off the clock. The Saints managed to hold them to a 27 yard FG by David Akers but it left under 8 minutes to play.
The Saints would get the ball back and failed to convert on 4th down on consecutive drives. Meanwhile David Akers failed to make two field goal attempts as a 50 yard attempt went wide left and then a 33 yard attempt was blocked and recovered by the Saints. New Orleans then got it back with only 1:05 left with Brees throwing a few futile passes before taking a knee to end the game.
The 49ers defense managed to hold the Saints to just 290 total yards of offense with 231 yards coming from the passing game. Despite being penalized 10 times on both sides of the ball, the 49ers managed to keep the Saints offense in check and under 30 points.
“We always want to be the best defense on the field, especially on the road,” Safety Donte Whitner said. “When you play us, you are going to get hit. That’s our identity: smart, hard-nose, physical football.”
Meanwhile, the 49ers offense managed to get 375 yards of total offense in New Orleans, 85 more yards than the Saints.
“We got a win, so that’s all that really matters,” Colin Kaepernick said.
Meanwhile, it was Alex Smith on the sideline the entire game looking on as his team marched to victory, the whole time with his helmet on ready to come in at a moment’s notice with the call never coming.
“Obviously I want to play. I want to start. I think I should, but it’s not my decision,” Smith said. “I’m part of this team and it’s great to go out and get a win.”
It is clear after this win on which way the 49ers are going at the quarterback position which seemingly leaves Alex Smith on the outside and possibly looking for another job in the Spring. Smith started the first 9 games this season leading them to 6-2-1 before sustaining a concussion two weeks ago against the Rams. Ever since then, Colin Kaepernick has taken over and is 2-0 in his first two NFL starts with this game being his first win on the road. Now Smith looks on from the sideline as Kaepernick seeks to get the 49ers back to New Orleans.
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Written by Daniel Trucios