Aldon and Justin Smith can certainly wreak a game. They did not have quite the impact that they did last Monday night against Chicago, but the two of them split a sack and earned an individual one giving them each 1.5 for the game. That only begins to tell the story of this game. While most thought that it would be the 49ers offense that controlled the game, it turned out to be their defense that moderated the tempo. Drew Brees was protected well in the first half, but that protection broke down in the second half and he went down five times. Ahmad Brooks had a wail of a game with a pick six, a sack and a half, plus four tackles. Patrick Willis did a tremendous job at covering Jimmy Graham in the slot and at the line of scrimmage. Graham only caught four balls for 33 yards. Also, coverage in the secondary did a great job against the vertical attack. A couple of plays hit home for Brees and the Saints, but most of the time when the Saints went deep it was well covered. The 49ers also got a pick-six out of Donte Whitner.
The 49ers really controlled this game from the opening drive when they forced a three and out on New Orleans. They lead for a majority of the game and were throwing the ball a little bit more than they had been when Alex Smith was in at quarterback. What really killed the Saints was when they were up 14-7 Drew Brees threw an interception and it was returned for a touchdown right before the half. This is after they had just intercepted Kaepernick (for the first time in his career) and had a chance to get points and make the game 17-7 or even 21-7. Instead the game was tied at 14 at the half and then the 49ers came out and scored a touchdown quickly to begin the third quarter. Also in the fourth quarter San Francisco put together a brilliant 16 play, 9 and a half minute drive that covered nearly 90 yards. It ended in a field goal, but the damage had been down to the clock, making a comeback very hard for Brees and nearly impossible against Vic Fangio’s stout defense.
The Saints defense was able to hold the opponent to under 400 yards for the first time this season. The 49ers were content with eating up clock in the second half and that costed them the opportunity to get more yards. The yards do not really matter though because a win is all Jim Hargaugh could have asked for, and winning in New Orleans is a nice feather in his cap. The Saints will need to brush the dirt of their bodies in a hurry because they travel north to Atlanta to take on the Falcons on Thursday night. If they cannot win this game then their season will crumble at their feet.