Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports


Rapid Reaction to the 49ers’ 48-46 win over the Saints

Matt Andruscavage
Dec 9, 2019 at 8:47 AM


What a game! (In case anyone is wondering, my blood pressure is still not all the way down)


1) This Offense is Better than People Think


For weeks now, pundits around the country have disrespected at least half of this offense, claiming the 49ers are a defensive team with a great running game. Once again, when the defense struggled and the running game was by no means dominant, Jimmy Garoppolo took over the game and led a diverse passing attack that put up 48 points on the road against Drew Brees and the Saints.

Let that sink in. Jimmy Garoppolo out-dueled Drew Brees, on the road, and the defense gave up 46 points. For just about everyone, especially outside of San Francisco circles, this seems like an impossibility or at least a misprint. In the words of Han Solo, "It's true. All of it."

Garoppolo led drive after drive that saw the 49ers answer everything the Saints could throw at them. The Saints were up 20-7 and 27-14, but it didn't matter. San Francisco kept coming and by the end of the first half, the 49ers led 28-27. That is no small feat when you consider how good the Saints are, especially at home.

The ground game was good as Raheem Mostert carried ten times for 69 yards and a score. Matt Breida was back and chipped in 54 yards on six carries, including an important 28 yard run on their final drive of the second quarter to set up the go-ahead score before the half.

There was trickery as well. We saw the handoff to Deebo Samuel which was used against Carolina. Samuel also had a nice 31 yard reverse in a big spot with four minutes left in the game. Kyle Juszczyk and Mostert ran an option run and it was Mostert that gained good yardage after "Juice" pitched it to him. We even saw Emmanuel Sanders take a reverse and THROW it deep to Mostert successfully for a 35 yard touchdown.

Everyone got involved. Kendrick Bourne continues to shine in the red-zone and on third down as he finished with three catches for 18 yards and two touchdowns. (the other catch was on third down and resulted in a big first down). I'll get to Kittle soon. Emmanuel Sanders continues to justify the draft picks that were sent to Denver as he finished with his passing touchdown and also seven catches for 157 yards, including a massive 75 yard touchdown reception.

Deebo Samuel, who had five catches for 76 yards, continues to be a reliable target anywhere on the field and always gets quality yardage after the catch.

This offense is high adaptable, very multi-faceted and is simply a nightmare to defend. The narrative needs to change. This is one of the top units in all of football and after scoring 48 points on six touchdowns and two field goals, deserves respect across the country.

2) The Underrated Plays of the Day


From the start of the game, the defense had struggled to slow down the Saints' high-powered offense. While the loss of Jared Cook probably changed some things, it was still up to the 49ers to capitalize and make the necessary plays to keep its offense on the field and Drew Brees on the bench.

Nick Bosa came up with a huge stop on Taysom Hill's roll out on a key third down in the second quarter. Up to that point, the 49ers were unable to make a stop to get their defense off the field. Bosa played through a hold (that was called) and stopped Hill for a big loss that got the ball back for the final drive of the second quarter.

Another one of the biggest plays that seems to be getting lost in the shuffle is D.J. Jones' strip of Alvin Kamara with 10:30 left in the third quarter. The Saints had taken back the momentum, as well as the lead and got the ball back again. Instead, DeForest Buckner landed on the ball at the Saints' 20 yard line, which led to George Kittle's five yard touchdown to take back the lead at 35-30.

The other two big plays, which ended up being the biggest difference in the game, were the two stops on the two point conversions. The coverage was terrific and the defense was never fooled by anything the Saints did. The second one resulted in the Saints only leading by one point with 53 seconds to go. It was all Garoppolo needed.

3) George Kittle is the Best Tight End in Football


George Kittle finished with six catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. That may not seem like a lot, but the box score never tells the whole story. His blocking, despite anything pundits like Doug Gottlieb might say, paved the way for more big runs and his never-give-up effort after the catch is as good as anyone.

Kittle is not only a great blocker, he is the BEST blocking tight end in football. I'm not sure that can even be debated. And on fourth down, in the biggest of moments, Kittle comes up with a 39 yard reception, where he dragged several Saints down the field, while having his facemask pulled for 20 yards of it.

He runs great routes, has great speed and quickness after the catch, blocks better than any of his peers, and is about as good of a teammate as anyone could hope to have. He makes this offense go and is a huge reason why the 49ers will contend for a title this year.

4) Extra Points


- After center Weston Richburg was carted off in the third quarter, his replacement Ben Garland came in and did an admirable job. Garland will be needed going forward as Richburg's injury is potentially serious.

- Jimmy Garoppolo finished 26 for 35, 349 yards and another four touchdown day. He has been stellar these last few weeks and is beginning to prove the front office correct for giving him that contract.

- While the defense definitely had its struggles, they did a great job not letting Alvin Kamara destroy them, holding him to 25 yards rushing and only 18 yards receiving.

- The penalties were again rearing their ugly head as the defense allowed New Orleans to extend their drives and on offense, we saw too many mistakes that cost themselves plenty of yards and make it more difficult. This has to be cut down if they want to advance in the postseason.

- Robbie Gould is fine. He was 2 for 2 which included the clutch game-winner. (See my response article to Jeff Diamond for further context and analysis of the 8 misses he has had this season)

- The injuries continue to be a problem as besides Richburg, we saw Richard Sherman injure his hamstring, Dee Ford re-injured his hamstring early in the game, and K'Waun Williams went out late in the game as well. Hopefully none of these are serious.

- Next week, the 49ers return home after this long stretch and play Atlanta. This won't be an easy matchup, but it will certainly not be like the last two games. San Francisco needs to show up and put the Falcons away as they finish the season against the Rams and Seahawks.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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