In what many predicted to be a cake walk victory for the New Orleans Saints (4-5), it was the San Francisco 49ers (5-4) who came out winners as they beat the Saints in overtime 27-24. A 49ers team that found their identity with their smash-mouth ways as 49ers RB Frank Gore had 23 carries for 81 yards and one touchdown, it was Gore who led the team on the offensive side of the ball. From running hard between the tackles to gaining crucial yards after contact, Gore was an absolute monster today and it showed.
While, Gore did his part with the ground game, it was 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick who kept the 49ers in it. In a game where his wide-receivers were dropping pass after pass, it was Kaepernick who may have saved the 49ers season as he found WR Michael Crabtree for a 51-yard reception late in the fourth-quarter. A play that was made possible on 4th and 1o, Kaepernick scrambled right, kept the play alive while throwing an absolute laser to Crabtree in the process. A game-changing play, it was one that swung the momentum in the 49ers favor. And while Kaepernick did not have the best game statistically as he completed only 14 of 32 passes for 210 yards and one touchdown, it was enough to get the job done, and that’s all that matters.
With the 49ers taking an early 14-0 first-quarter lead, it was DC Vic Fangio’s No. 2 ranked defense that set the tone as they forced not one, not two, but three turnovers. From SS Antoine Bethea’s early interception to OLB Ahmad Brooks strip/sack in overtime, it was a collective team effort on the defensive side of the ball and it showed. A unit that continues to be without star players, Fangio somehow masks that deficiency and today was no different.
With Pro-Bowl ILB Patrick Willis missing his third consecutive game, it was rookie third-round pick (No. 77) ILB Chris Borland who continues to shine in his absence as he had 17 tackles and one fumble recovery. Just one week after recording a career-high 18 tackles last week, Borland had a nice encore performance. If you’re keeping track that’s 35 tackles in a two-game span. Talk about a tackle machine. In fact, Borland became the first 49ers rookie to record double digit tackles in back-to-back games since Willis did it back in 2007. A true gem, Borland continues to prove his worth as his “alligator arms” clearly seem to be a non-factor.
While Borland did his part, it was Pro Bowl OLB Ahmad Brooks who did his, as he had a redemption sack to seal the 49ers victory. A play that was made possible as Brooks used a speed-rush to get upfield, he then snuck up behind Brees while recording a game-changing strip/sack, ultimately sealing a 49ers victory with the go-ahead field-goal from K Phil Dawson.
In a must win game, the 49ers came out swinging and fought their way to win yet another road victory under head coach Jim Harbaugh as they improve to 20-9 under the former Stanford head coach.
NT Quinton Dial recorded his first career NFL sack.
NT Ian Williams left the game with a lower leg injury believed to be a fractured bone.
CB Chris Culliver recorded a red zone INT right before halftime.