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.

Prediction Time:

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.