49ers defense dominates in 13-0 win over New Orleans; Five burning questions answered

The San Francisco 49ers rode (7-4) another elite performance from their defense to a 13-0 win over the New Orleans Saints (4-8) on Sunday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium.

Sunday marked the 49ers first shutout and four game win streak since 2019. It was also the first time in 21 years the Saints were kept off the scoreboard.

San Francisco’s win, combined with Seattle losing to Las Vegas give the 49ers sole possession of the lead in the NFC West.

Here are the answers to the five questions I asked on Friday.

1. Will Jimmy Garoppolo stay hot? YES

Garoppolo had completed more than 70 percent of his passes over the previous four games. On Sunday he was once again over that total.

The 49ers quarterback finished 26 of 37 for 221 yards and one touchdown against New Orleans. He completed passes to eight different receivers.

With San Francisco nursing a three point lead late in the first half, Garoppolo stepped up. The veteran quarterback led a nine play, 57-yard drive. He completed six of eight passes on the drive for 50 yards, finishing it off when he hit Jauan Jennings from five yards out for a touchdown.

Garoppolo narrowly escaped injury as well when he was hit low after throwing an 11-yard completion to Brandon Aiyuk.

On the play, Garoppolo had escaped pressure out to his right and threw a strike to Aiyuk. Saints defensive tackle Malcolm Roach hit Garoppolo in the knee and was called for roughing the passer. Garoppolo was hobbled for several plays after the hit, but the 49ers were able to manage a field goal on the drive to go up 13-0.

Sunday marked Garoppolo’s fourth straight game without an interception. If Garoppolo can continue to play the way he has over the last five games the 49ers will be hard to beat.

2. Can the 49ers offense keep the run game churning? Kind of.

The 49ers rushing attack was a bit of a mixed bag on Sunday.

Elijah Mitchell had 35 yards on seven carries before leaving the game with an injury. His 32-yard burst for a touchdown late in the first half was wiped away by a holding call on George Kittle.

Deebo Samuel also fell victim to a holding penalty. His 16-yard gain on the 49ers opening possession of the second half was called back due to a Jake Brendel hold. Samuel finished with zero yards on two carries.

Christian McCaffrey struggled to find any rhythm on the ground. The starting running back finished with only 32 yards on 11 carries.

With Mitchell out, Jordan Mason saw his carries increase. The undrafted rookie free agent picked up 25 yards on five carries, most coming in the games closing moments.

As a team the 49ers finished with 96 yards on 29 carries. San Francisco’s average of 3.3 yards per carry was far below the 4.6 New Orleans had been allowing entering the game.

3. Can the 49ers defense slow down Andy Dalton? YES

Dalton was impressive on Sunday. The veteran quarterback continuously moved the Saints offense down the field, especially in the second half.

However, the 49ers defense did to Dalton what they have done to every quarterback not named Patrick Mahomes this season.

Other than a 35-yard completion to Rashid Shaheed, the 49ers defense kept everything in front of them. By forcing Dalton and the Saints offense to be methodical, San Francisco was able to eventually come up with several big stops in the second half.

New Orleans opened the second half with a 12-play, 45-yard drive. They came up empty when Will Lutz missed wide left from 48 yards out. The field goal attempt came after tight coverage from Deommodore Lenoir resulted in an incompletion on third and five.

The next New Orleans possession was another 12-play drive. This one covered 87 yards but the Saints again were turned away. This time it was the result of great teamwork by Dre Greenlaw and Talanoa Hufanga.

Dalton had nowhere to go, so he checked the ball down to running back Alvin Kamara. As Greenlaw struggled to bring Kamara down, Hufanga came up and got his helmet on the ball to jar it loose. A mad scramble ensued as the ball bounced from player to player before Greenlaw fell on it at the one yard line.

New Orleans had one more shot at getting back into the game when they took possession after a punt on the 49ers 39. The Saints got down to the 49ers four only to see Dalton throw three consecutive incompletions. On fourth and goal, Nick Bosa blew around the edge to drop Dalton for the 49ers only sack of the game.

4. Will San Francisco be able to stop Tayson Hill? YES

San Francisco held Taysom Hill to only 20 yards on seven touches. Hills biggest gain came when he made a reception for seven yards on the Saints opening play of the game.

He was mostly a non-factor as the 49ers allowed New Orleans to convert only four of 13 third down attempts.

5. Which team holds on to the ball? San Francisco

New Orleans came into Sunday with a turnover differential of -12. They saw this grow to -14 against the 49ers with a pair of fumbles by Alvin Kamara.

The 49ers improved to 18-3 since 2021 when they turn the ball over less than or the same number of times as their opponent.


49ers 27 Saints 17

This article has 14 Comments

  1. The O-line was impressive today at times .
    All the doubters at the beginning of the season get to eat crow, hopefully dolphin next week.

    1. What in the world are you talking about? 3.3 YPC and 0 TDs against a defense that was giving up 4.8 YPC on the year? That was impressive to you? 49ers O-line is better than I expected but they are most certainly not impressive.

    2. I wouldn’t really call it impressive…. they’re gonna have difficulty facing talented fronts, since they aren’t a top flight unit..Garoppolo was under a lot of pressure and took too many hits in the game, for it to be impressive….the running game was pretty much a series repetitions for McCaffrey, with no gaping holes or running lanes for him to exploit….with 6 games left, they’re as cohesive as they’re gonna get this season..

    3. It never ceases to amaze me how we all watch the same TV picture but see things differently. The O-line stunk. Jimmy G got blasted at least 5 times. The running game only gained some decent yardage it the last 2 minutes of the game

  2. The D-line has been performing well that fans seem not to miss the two starters (Armstead and Kinlaw), However, Bosa will get less double-teamed with an effective and healthy Armstead backs to the line up. Hopefully, Kinlaw is not visiting Reggie McGrew for advice.

  3. They ground out a tough win after a short week. The D is in championship form and they are in first place in their division.
    Go 9ers!

  4. Not agree to Jimmy G continued to be on fire. Without a stable O-Line he has issues. Big interception was called back by my referees. Touch down pass was a near interception. Some good decisions to throw the ball away although.
    No 4th down clutch-ness.
    When he failed his 4th down to goal, Mitchell was open in his view angle, McCafferey was open in third outside his view angle. He did some good, but he also did some bad with lots of luck.

  5. Good post Jack,
    I was impressed with Jimmy’s toughness. He took some hard shots and consistently shook them off and continued to play.

    There are some areas of concern.
    1. Red zone scoring has been an issue for some time. This has to be corrected as they get closer to the playoffs. Red zone field goals can only take you so far.
    2. Oline pro was not good yesterday. You can’t allow or afford to get your QB getting hit the way he did.
    3. Losing Eli Mitchell. He is not the style of runner that CMC is, but he’s the perfect counterpart. He needs to be ready for the playoffs.
    Good win, considering the 49ers were playing flat likely due to the short week.

  6. A few thoughts…

    Apparently Raheem Mostert intimated the 49ers tried to rush him back too soon from his knee injury. Not sure if that’s just some media guy click hunting or if there is a real story between Mostert and the 49ers medical staff. Given what we know about many players, I think the 49ers medical team certainly deserves some criticism. Makes me wonder if the 49ers rushed Elijah Mitchell back too soon.

    NFL officiating is just terrible. So inconsistent it makes you wonder what in the world these guys are looking at. The Hold on Kittle was a garbage call. Compare that call to what happens to Bosa about 20 times a game. Jimmy G took multiple shots low and then even some to the head that weren’t called. The call on Harris (?) that negated the Jimmy G interception was also a trash call I thought. Hochuli has one of the worst crews in the NFL. It’s just awful. Hope we don’t get them any more games this year.

    Contrary to popular opinion on this blog, I still think the O-line is the weakest link on this team. You finally played a defense with some talent and you can only muster 13 points, 3.3 YPC, 5-13 on 3rd downs, 6 QB hits and 1 Sack? That’s not the stat line of a good O-line especially with the 49ers skill position players. 49ers have a Superbowl caliber defense and an average offense. You’ve got superstars at every skill position with the exception of QB and even then the QB is a good – not great – player. The reason the 49ers are middle of the road in scoring offense is because of the O-line.

  7. despite a win, a shut out by the defense, very strong performance by Jimmy G, all we get so far from so called fans are complaints. The continual bashing of the O line is nonsensical. Was it a perfectly performed offense. Of course not and there never is. Fans seem to forget that the opposition is also well paid and professional.
    Anyway, I enjoyed the game and Jacks write up and I’m very happy for the win. We have one of the best teams in the leauge and lucky me, I get to watch it all play out.

    1. Felix, your posts are often astute and enjoyable, but sometimes you present yourself as a more highly evolved being than those who “complain.” I enjoy the “complainers,” too, and often share their sentiments. I enjoy you and you’re just another mortal.

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