It seems like this day would never get here. The 49ers and Saints have seemingly been on a collision course for the last two months with the only question being where the game would be played. The 49ers pulled off a win against the Rams in Week 17 to earn home field advantage. We’ll find out how big of an advantage that ends up being today.
All the 49ers listed on the injury report are listed as probable, though Harbaugh told the media on Thursday that it would be unlikely that Delanie Walker would play.
49ers – QB Scott Tolzien, WR Joe Hastings, CB Shawntae Spencer, TE Delanie Walker, G Daniel Kilgore, G Mike Person, NT Ian Williams
Saints – WR Lance Moore, CB Leigh Torrence, LB Nate Bussey, G Eric Olsen, TE Tory Humphrey, TE John Gilmore, DE Turk McBride
David Akers booms one deep into the end zone for a touchback. The Saints will take over at their own 20-yard line. Darren Sproles takes a screen pass for a five-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage. New Orleans moves into 49ers territory with a pair of first downs, including a 12-yard catch by Sproles. Donte Whitner was flagged for a very questionable pass interference call against Graham, which gave the Saints a first down at the 21. Graham was shaken up on the play. Brees hit Colston for a gain of 4, which was just enough for a first down at the 11. Whitner absolutely leveled Thomas at the two and the ball popped loose. The 49ers recovered for a huge stop on the opening drive. How about that 49ers defense that creates so many turnovers?
From his own end zone, Alex Smith hit Crabtree on a slant for a gain of 9 to get things going. Gore plunged ahead on the next play to move the chains. Gore got great blocks on the left side, one by Vernon Davis, for a big gain to the 31. Smith hit Ginn on another quick slant for a gain of 11 and another first down. Smith was sacked on 3rd down and fumbled the ball. Gore recovered afterr a big loss. Lee was hit as he kicked…no call from the officials. The punt rolled and was downed at the 19.
Aldon Smith dropped Drew Brees on 3rd down. It was certainly a coverage sack as the 49ers were matched up tight on all receivers. Ginn returned the punt, but was hit hard at the 46.
Kendall Hunter found a small hole on first down for a gain of 5. On the next play, Alex Smith hit Vernon Davis for a 49-yard score and the 49ers struck first.
49ers 7 – Saints 0
The Saints moved the chains after two quick passes to the flat, one to Graham and one to Sproles. On the next play, Goldson stepped in front of the receiver deep and returned it to the 4.
Smith hit Crabtree for a 4-yard touchdown on 3rd down and goal.
49ers 14 – Saints 0
The Saints fumbled the kickoff and it was recovered by Blake Costanzo.
Standout Stat: The 49ers have already forced three turnovers.
Highlight Reel: Whitner’s hit on Thomas was a huge play and set the mood for the game.
Put it in Perspective: Not much to say…this is the perfect start for the 49ers.
The 49ers couldn’t punch it in, but Akers tacked on a 25-yard field goal to extend the lead.
49ers 17 – Saints 0
Brees hit Meechem for a gain of 7 on first down and they picked up another first down on a check down to the fullback. Brees then hit Colston for a gain of 20 down the middle of the field. Whitner ripped the ball away from Sproles, but it was ruled that he was down. Harbaugh challenged the play, but Sproles was ruled down. Brees hit Colston over the middle once again for another first down at the SF 28. Brees ended the drive with a 14-yard strike to Graham over the coverage of Patrick Willis.
49ers 17 – Saints 7
Ginn let the ball go over his head and out of the end zone for a touchback. Smith checked down to Gore on 3rd down and he couldn’t make it to the first down marker. Not a good time for a three and out now that the Saints have regained some momentum. Goodwin was shaken up on the play and was helped off the field. It looked like it may be an ankle injury. The 49ers had good coverage on the punt and dropped Sproles at the 34.
Brees hit Colston for a gain of 13 to start the drive. Haralson nearly had a sack on the next play, but couldn’t drop Brees, who threw it away. Brees hit Arrington for 14 yards, throwing it off his back foot. Brees then hit Colston down the right sideline for a 24-yard touchdown.
49ers 17 – Saints 14
The kickoff went through the end zone for another touchback. Hunter bounced the run to the left side and picked up 11 to begin the drive. Gore picked up 9 on the next play. Snyder is in at center for Goodwin and Rachal comes in at right guard. Smith then threw a strike over the shoulder of Vernon Davis for a gain of 20. Roman Harper was on Davis. Crabtree dropped two passes and then Smith was sacked on third down…that’s exactly what you can’t do against the Saints. Andy Lee’s punt went into the end zone for a touchback.
Tarell Brown made a beautiful leaping grab over Henderson. He had a good return which was wiped out as Henderson touched Brown when he was on the ground. Henderson still paid the price as he was leveled by Whitner on the return.
Smith hit Williams on an out route for a first down and the former Sun Devil got out of bounds to stop the clock. Smith hit Williams on 3rd and 10, but he was well short of the marker. The Saints used their last timeout of the half to stop the clock with 1:06 remaining. Sproles called for the fair catch at the 14.
The 49ers forced a punt. Williams let the punt bounce and then fielded it and returned it for a couple, back to the SF 45.
Smith stepped up and had the ball knocked out and the Saints recovered at the 45. Brees was pressured and threw the ball away to end the half.
Standout Stat: The Saints have four turnovers, their high this season.
Highlight Reel: Brown’s interception has to be one of the best in the NFL all season.
Put it in Perspective: The Saints battled back…and you knew they would. The 49ers have to stay out of third and longs when Williams can really turn up the pressure. The 49ers offense needs to be more efficient
The 49ers brought Justin Smith and Isaac Sopoaga in as extra blocker on second down and moved the chains on another heavy set on third down. In another third and long, the Saints sent the house and dropped Smith. The 49ers were fortunate as Costanzo knocked the ball loose on the return and the 49ers recovered.
On 3rd and 7, Crabtree had his third big drop of the game on what would have been a first down. Akers connected on a 41-yard field goal.
49ers 20 – Saints 14
Brees improvised under pressure and threw it back up the field to Colston who picked up 31. Smith dropped Brees on 3rd down to force a punt. Ginn fielded the punt and returned it to the 19.
Ginn tried the fly sweep on 1st down, but was met by Vilma after a gain of just three. Gore tried to throw it back to Smith on the next play. Smith fell on it for a loss of 6. Smith then hit Gore for 7 yards, but they were well short of the sticks. Andy Lee had a great punt which rolled down to the 14, a net of 63.
Goldson nearly had a pick as Brees had all day to throw. Henderson then caught a quick slant for a gain of 19. Graham picked up another first down on a short check down over the middle. Rogers made a great play on Arrington deep to knock away what could have been a touchdown, then knocked it away from Arrington on 3rd down on a short slant. Ginn signaled for the fair catch at the 15.
The 49ers beat the blitz with a quick out to Miller in the left flat and the fullback got out to the 31. The 49ers were then flagged for two offensive pass interference on consecutive plays and the drive stalled. Lee attempted a directional kick and it went just 35 yards, out of bounds at the 34.
Brees checked down to Sproles for a gain of 12 to start the drive. Brees then hit Henderson down to the SF 39.
Standout Stat: The 49ers are just 2 of 11 on third down and they need to keep moving the chains and keep the Saints offense off the field.
Highlight Reel: Costanzo continues to cause all sorts of problems for the Saints special teams. This quarter, he knocked one loose from Sproles for another turnover.
Put it in Perspective: The 49ers held the Saints scoreless, but you have to wonder how long that can continue. With the Saints driving, holding them to a field goal would be huge. On offense, they have to stay out of third and longs. When they’re in that situation, they haven’t been able to have any success against the aggressive Saints defense.
Brees took a shot for Colston deep down the middle, but the Reggie Smith hit him and Colston couldn’t haul it in. Kasay hit a 48-yard field goal to cut the lead in half.
49ers 20 – Saints 17
Hunter fielded the line drive kick and returned it to he 28. Smith hit Kyle Williams on a crossing route that went in and out of his hands and was nearly intercepted. That’s three drops by Crabtree and one by Williams. Smith needs to get some help from his receivers because Williams would have had a first down. The punt team tackled Sproles at the 18, but Costanzo looks to be in some pain after that play as he limped off.
Brooks dropped Brees for a loss of 7 on 2nd down and then Justin Smith disrupted everything on 3rd down, tackling Brees and the left tackle in one motion. Donte Whitner was filed up by Smith’s effort. The 49ers took over at the 36 after the punt.
Gore started the drive off with his best run of the game, going 42 yards down to the 22. Smith’s third down pass was batted back to Gore, who caught it and tried to make the most of it, but lost a yard. Akers hit from 37.
49ers 23 – Saints 17
Sproles picked up one…the hard way. He caught Brees’ check down, but was met immediately by Bowman. Brees was flushed from the pocket on 3rd down and hit Henderson for 13 and a 1st down. Colston then picked up another first down as Brees continues to look Culliver’s way.
Posted in Gameday | 486 Comments »