Kaepernick and Defense Led the Way for 49ers

Colin Kapernick 49ers QB 640x360

The New Orleans Saints were on their way to the Super Bowl last year until they lost to the San Francisco 49ers. This year the Saints were riding a three-game winning streak on their way to rebound to make the post-season, until they met the 49ers again.

Second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick was solid in his second career start as he threw for a touchdown and ran one as he led the 49ers to a 31-21 victory over the Saints to improve their record to 8-2-1 while the Saints dropped to 5-6.

“We got a win, so that’s all that really matters,” Kaepernick said.

The 49ers offense kicked started on their second drive when on 2nd and 8, Kaepernick connected with WR Mario Manningham on a 40-yard pass play. Two plays later on 1st and goal, Kaepernick took a quarterback read option to the left for a seven-yard touchdown to take the lead 7-0.

But Drew Brees marched the Saints down the field to tie it up at 7-7, aided by a 33-yard pass to Joseph Morgan before connecting with tight end David Thomas on a 6-yard pass.

The touchdown pass extended Drew Brees NFL-record streak to 54 consecutive games with a touchdown pass.

In the second quarter Brees again drove the Saints down the field to take the lead 14-7 when he connected with Marques Colston on a 10-yard touchdown pass.

Brees went 26-of-41 for 267 and three touchdowns, but the difference in the game was the two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.

After Kaepernick was intercepted by Patrick Robinson, two plays later Brees was intercepted by Ahmad Brooks who returned it 50-yards for a touchdown right before halftime to tie it up at 14-14.

“From what I saw, he made a great job,” said Brees. “He caught that thing on his fingertips. He dropped out and we were trying to fit it in there to Jimmy. He just made an extremely athletic play.”

That was Brooks first interception of the season.

On the opening possession of the 3rd-quarter, the Niners drove down the field, aided by a big pass play when Delanie Walker took a Kaepernick pass 45-yards, followed by Kendall Hunter’s 21-yard run. With 1st and goal, Kaepernick took a play-action fake, rolled to his right and hit Frank Gore for a 6-yard touchdown pass to take a seven-point lead 21-14.

Kaepernick was solid in his second career start as he had a passer rating of 90.6 while going 16-of-25 for 231-yards along with six carries for 27-yards. He threw one touchdown and ran one while only throwing one interception in place of the injured Alex Smith, who was held out for safety measures following a concussion.

“Colin played well in a tough environment,” Harbaugh said. “He acquitted himself very well… I thought he did a good job of managing the game, getting the team in and out of the huddle.”

On the Saints next possession, Brees threw a pass to Colston, the pass was tipped off the hands of Colston into the hands of Donte Whitner who took it 42-yards for the score to extend the lead 28-14.

“I was in the right place at the right time,” said Whitner. “I saw the ball tip up and I made sure I caught it.”

Like Brooks, it was Whitner’s first interception of the season.

The 49ers would go on to win 31-21 in what was another physical game where the 49ers clearly dominated. The 49ers defense sacked Brees five times while only surrendering 290 yards to the Saints offense.

The 49ers visit the St. Louis Rams to try to avenge a tie while the Saints travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons.

Game Notes:

-          The 49ers defense returned 2 INTs for TDs on the day, marking the first time since 10/22/95 vs. StL (LB Ken Norton Jr. – 21-yd. and 35-yd. INT returns).

-          The loss was the Saints’ first in the month of November since Nov. 30, 2008. The Saints had won 14 consecutive games in November before Sunday.

-          TE Vernon Davis has now started 86 consecutive games, which ranks 3rd in the NFL among TEs behind Tony Gonzalez (97) and Jason Witten (94).

-          WR Marques Colston finished with four receptions for 36 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. That was his 56th career touchdown, making him the franchise’s all-time leader in the category. Colston broke a tie with former Saints RB Deuce McAllister, who he was tied with heading into the game.

-          The 49ers improved to 47-24-2 overall and 24-13 on the road against the New Orleans Saints.

-          Brees now leads the NFL with 31 touchdown passes this season. It also marks the fifth consecutive season and fifth season overall he has thrown for at least 30 touchdowns. He now joins Brett Favre (9) and Peyton Manning (6) as only the third quarterback to top the 30-TD pass mark in five or more seasons. He also joins Favre (1994-98) as the only quarterbacks to do so in five consecutive seasons.

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