The San Francisco 49ers 27-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday may have gone a long way toward keeping their playoff hopes alive. With the season on the line in overtime, two of the young guns on the 49ers defense came up huge. First up was Quinton Dial with a sack of Drew Brees, and on the very next play it was Chris Borland making a tremendous hustle play to recover a Brees fumble that had been forced by Ahmad Brooks. Phil Dawson then came on and sent the 49ers home victorious with a knuckle ball that almost missed wide left and wide right.
History shows that teams with a 5-4 record have a, get this, 49% rate of reaching the playoffs. The 49ers will need to get some help to be among the top six teams in the NFC and the scenarios are endless, but the only focus at this point should be to win out and let the chips fall where they may.
Let's get to the answers for the 5 burning questions that I asked on Friday.
1) Will Rombaugh be able to silence the critics? - Yes.
A year ago the 49ers averaged 1.1 yards per play on first down against the Saints. By my count they improved that by about 300%, averaging 4.4 yards per play on first down.
The 49ers offense put up 21 points in the first half, but was held to only 3 in the second. A lot of that had to do with multiple drops throughout the half. The normally sure handed Anquan Boldin in particular had a rough half with 4 drops, including a deep ball in the third quarter.
2) Are the Saints invincible in the dome? - No.
The 49ers became the first team since January 2, 2011 to defeat a Sean Payton led team in the Mercedes Superdome.
3) Who will replace Demarcus Dobbs on the 46-man roster? -
Both guesses ended up being correct as Chase Thomas and Tank Carradine were active on Sunday. Thomas played only on special teams and registered a tackle.
Carradine played the first regular season snaps of his NFL career. In five snaps Carradine was able to register a tackle and quarterback pressure.
Another positive development on Sunday was the play of Justin Smith. Smith came into Sunday having registered only five quarterback pressures over the last four games. He matched that total against the Saints.
4) Can Colin Kaepernick make the necessary plays? - Yes
. With the 49ers down by three, facing a 4th and 10, Kaepernick did a good job of extending the play and finding Michael Crabtree for a 51 yard completion that set up Phil Dawson for the game tying field goal.
It wasn't all smooth sailing for Kaepernick. He had a fumble late in the first half, but fortunately was bailed out a few plays later when Chris Culliver intercepted a Drew Brees pass in the endzone.
Kaepernick also had to deal with a receiving corps that had a tough time holding onto the ball in the second half. Anquan Boldin had four drops in the half to go along with drops by Bruce Miller and Michael Crabtree.
5) How will the 49ers defense hold up against Drew Brees? - Good.
Despite giving up 292 yards and three touchdowns the 49ers defense did a good job of forcing Brees into mistakes, forcing two interceptions and a fumble. The first interception led to seven points for the 49ers, the second interception kept the Saints from getting at least a field goal before the half and the forced fumble led directly to the game winning field goal.
The 49ers defense has been rough on Brees in recent years. In their four meetings since January 2012, they have forced Brees into 8 turnovers.
49ers 20 Saints 30
Thank goodness. I was way off on this one.
* Chris Borland
has made a strong case to stay in the lineup for the remainder of the season. Over the last 2 weeks he has been credited with 35 tackles, and his fumble recovery yesterday was a tremendous hustle play.
* Eric Reid continues to struggle. He continues to have receivers get behind him. Not something that a free safety should allow. One misplay led to a long touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks. His responsibility was to stay over the top of two verticals and Cooks ran right past him.
* Perrish Cox had a rough outing, giving up 9 receptions for 81 yards and 1 touchdown on 11 targets.
* Marcus Martin quietly had a solid game.
* Carlos Hyde is going to be a tremendous back once he becomes consistent in pass protection. He was explosive when running the ball, but his missed block led to a sack in the fourth quarter.
Date: November 12, 2014 at 10:29 AM
Comment: It was an ironic victory to last years demise by official. Where did that breeze come from on Dawsons' winning kick?
Date: November 11, 2014 at 3:27 AM
Comment: MWNiner Yes there are 49er friendly places in the Seattle area & Through out the North West.... There are some in Oregon as well... The RAM Restaurant & bar in Lakewood WA is one of them... We have the Banquet room reserved for every game... We on a regular basis out number the Seahawk fans & even have a couple great waitresses wearing Niner Jerseys.... We have had over 80 attend on more than one occasion... Then there is also a large group that Meets at the Great American Casino in Everett WA, a group that meets up at Tommy C's Sports Bar & Grill in Port Orchard WA, a group in Seattle, & a group in Auburn WA... & 100's of us will be welcoming the 49ers at the airport in December... 1526 members & counting in the Seattle Niners Faithful group... I joined shortly before the preseason & there have been hundreds that have joined since...
Date: November 10, 2014 at 8:29 PM
Comment: I'm loving what Borland is doing also, and I know anything can happen, but assuming all healthy it might be a while before we see him again. Willis still has a lot left and if Bowman returns to form he is even younger. I know those are both assumptions but not unrealistic. Good problem to have tho
Date: November 10, 2014 at 6:38 PM
Comment: I am really liking Borland. He seems to have natural instincts for making the play.
Date: November 10, 2014 at 3:38 PM
Comment: Could reid be playing hurt? If not, why does this happen to some players? He was electrifying at times last year. This year he's playing like Joe Febeetz!
Date: November 10, 2014 at 3:32 PM
I was sweatin' your prediction, too.. and
am so happy it didn't turn out to be the case ..
As usual, your post game analysis is great..
I always enjoy your perspective ..
Juan .. there are other options ..
Brian. .. a "49er friendly bar in Seattle" .. "
really .. ?
I woulda thought that would be an
Remember .. the Next Championship Game
will be called "Super Bowl #49"
I believe in fate
Date: November 10, 2014 at 2:16 PM
Comment: I agree with the analysis of Cox and Reid's play. However, let's keep in mind that, against Drew Brees and that passing offense, a lot of defensive players on many other teams would've been made to look silly as well. I'm certainly happy that A. Smith is returning, but we need Willis and Bowman even more. Any idea when they are returning to the lineup?
Date: November 10, 2014 at 12:58 PM
Comment: Jack, thanks. Another great analysis. New Orleans at home was a tough matchup, and the 10 am West Coast start and constant drops didn't help either. The team definitely showed fortitude, but I'll feel much better about the playoffs if we roll over the Giants next week. Aldon being back will help, but IMO the offense needs to dominate someone for four quarters.
Date: November 10, 2014 at 12:02 PM
Comment: Good stuff Jack. Having had a chance to rewatch the game I see what you mean about Reid. There were four plays that stood out to me. The Cooks TD he was a statue. Didn't get any depth at all and failed to turn with the WR. Cooks' other big reception same issue of depth and turned too late (when the ball was in the air). The other two times I noticed were incompletions, but only through luck. Colston dropped what should have been a TD, and Brees overthrew Stills. Both times Reid failed to get the proper depth and turn with the WR.
Date: November 10, 2014 at 11:25 AM
Comment: Juan, I too am up here in Washington. Sea chickens everywhere. But there are a lot of us Niners fans. We formed a Facebook group. Seattle Niners Faithful. We get together on Sundays at Niner friendly bars in the Seattle area. There are over 1,500 of us now getting together to support our team.
By: AJ Bolino
Date: November 10, 2014 at 11:15 AM
Comment: Something that many analysts missed was a truly intelligent adjustment by the 49ers, having Alex Boone call out protections in order to elevate Marcus Martin's comfort level. It worked really well, too. For the most part, pass protection was LARGELY improved over last week.
Date: November 10, 2014 at 11:07 AM
Comment: I'm concerned with second half play. There's only really one game that we actually lost big and that was to Denver. San Francisco has came out strong in the first half gotten leads only to relinquish them in the second half...it's like they've forgotten there's two halves of football that need to be played. Very disappointing to see these games play out when we should be winning them especially when I can't see them locally since I'm in Washington where I'm stuck with crappy Seahawks games. So I pay $300 to get the out of market games only to see San Fran screw up like they do...even more disappointing!
Date: November 10, 2014 at 10:55 AM
Comment: Many journalists gave a B on Kaepernick's performance but for me it was a C-. There was a 3rd&4 with defense showing an obvious blitz but dbacks gave a 5 yards cushion. I'm wondering what did George Whitfield do with Colin on training camp because a veteran QB should seen that coming and threw a quick pass to avoid the sack. It was lucky Kaep didn't lose the ball on that rush because it would be the end. I blame Harbaugh, Roman and Kaepernick because they should have already fixed those miscues after his 3rd season working together.
Date: November 10, 2014 at 10:42 AM
Comment: Borland's arms are too short for him to be an NFL linebacker. Baalke only drafts defensive players with long arms because only players with long arms can make tackles.
On a serious note Reid and Cox were dreadful. Both let receivers get inside without any effort and Cox couldn't figure out who he was supposed to cover on at least 3 plays that directly led to Graham making a wide open catch for huge yardage.
Date: November 10, 2014 at 10:36 AM
Comment: I 100% agree. Harbaugh is great.
By: Joe The Coach
Date: November 10, 2014 at 10:28 AM
Comment: Enough of the dumb Harbaugh bashing. The 49ers were nothing before he arrived. Injuries are the reasons they are struggling.