49ers keep rolling; Observations from 13-0 shutout of New Orleans

Here is what stood out from the 49ers 13-0 win over the Saints on Sunday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium.


The Niners defense has been outstanding since being taken to the woodshed by the Kansas City Chiefs. Over the last four weeks they have held their opponents scoreless in the second half. No other team in the NFL has been able to manage this since at least 1970.

On Sunday they managed to keep the Saints off the scoreboard in the first half as well, recording their first shutout since blanking Washington in a downpour.

Sunday also marked the first time New Orleans had been shut out since week 17 of the 2001 season when the 49ers beat them 38-0.

Nick Bosa

Bosa preserved the shutout with a sack of Andy Dalton on the Saints final play of the game.

The sack gives Bosa 11.5 on the season. Bosa has now recorded a sack in nine of his first ten games this season.

In ten games with Bosa on the field this season the 49ers defense has allowed over 19 points only once.

Samson Ebukam

Ebukam made his presence felt in his return to the lineup after missing the last two games. The second-year 49er was strong on the pass rush all afternoon and tied Nick Bosa for the team lead with two hits of Andy Dalton.

T.Y. McGill

Elevated to the active roster on Saturday, McGill came through for the defense when he dropped Alvin Kamara for a loss of two. The tackle set up a third and long which New Orleans would not be able to convert.

Fred Warner

Warner was all over the field on Sunday.

The All-Pro linebacker forced a fumble from Alvin Kamara on the Saints opening drive leading to a field goal by the 49ers offense.

In addition to the forced fumble, Warner recorded two passes defensed, a quarterback hit and seven tackles on the day.

Dre Greenlaw

Greenlaw wasn’t about to let Warner have all the fun. In the fourth quarter the got his hands on Kamara and didn’t let go until Talanoa Hufanga blasted the running back to force a fumble. Greenlaw was able to get on the ball for his first career fumble recovery.

In addition to the fumble recovery, the fourth-year linebacker recorded five tackles and one pass defense.

Talanoa Hufanga

Hufanga has brought a play making element that has been missing from the back of the Niners defense. His forced fumble on Alvin Kamara mentioned above was the first of his career. He led the 49ers defense on Sunday with nine tackles.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Garoppolo came into Sunday having completed over 70 percent of his pass the previous four weeks. Against New Orleans he completed 26 of 37 passes, 70.2 percent, for 222 yards and touchdown.

Although he came close, Garoppolo did not throw an interception for the fourth game in a row.

On the 49ers lone touchdown drive Garoppolo missed his first two throws before connecting on six in a row including a five-yard touchdown to Jauan Jennings.

Garoppolo was once again very good on third down. He finished 9-13 for 80 yards on the money down.

Jauan Jennings

Jennings made several big plays on the 49ers touchdown drive. On that possession he recorded four catches for 42 yards including the five-yard touchdown from Garoppolo.

He finished the game with six catches for 49 yards.

Offensive line

The offensive line struggled against New Orleans. That should not have been unexpected considering the Saints came in with one of the top pass rushing units in the NFL.

Aaron Banks had a particularly difficult day. The second-year guard allowed seven of the Saints 14 pressures on Garoppolo.

Trent Williams and Spencer Burford each gave up two pressures, while Daniel Brunsill, Jake Brendel, and Mike McGlinchey each allowed a single pressure.

The Niners struggled to get the ground game going on Sunday as the offensive line could not create lanes with any consistency, leading to an average of 3.3 yards per attempt.

A hold by Brendel wiped out a 16-yard run by Deebo Samuel, one of two explosive runs which were taken away due to penalties.

Running backs

Elijah Mitchell and Jordan Mason combined for 60 yards on 12 carries, not bad.

Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel combined for 32 yards on 13 carries, bad.

McCaffrey has struggled to get going on the ground the last couple games and was held to only 49 yards on 17 touches against New Orleans.

With Elijah Mitchell likely to miss a couple of weeks due to a strained MCL in his left knee, the bulk of the run game will now fall on McCaffrey.

Taking Mitchell’s spot on the gameday roster will be rookie Ty Davis-Price.

After Mitchell went down to a knee injury in week one, it was Davis-Price who stepped in as the primary backup with Jordan Mason continuing as the third back. I think this is what we will see from the 49ers in the coming weeks with Deebo Samuel getting a few carries as well.

This article has 17 Comments

  1. Well technically the defense had its last shutout in week 2. But hey.. let’s not get technical. 🤷🏻‍♂️🤣

  2. With Elijah Mitchell likely to miss a couple of weeks due to a strained MCL in his left knee, the bulk of the run game will now fall on McCaffrey.

    It’s 6 to 8 weeks. 🤦🏻‍♂️

    This guy’s had more games on the mend than actual games played at this point; he’ll be on IR for the second time this season.

  3. Maybe we will finally see Price come alive and realize his draft potential. He has largely been invisible all alone and in camp. Mason looks good! Coleman looks old but is solid enough. Or average enough.

  4. The bulk of the run game should go to Mason. TDP has shown nothing, just another overdrafted RB. While CMC is just not getting it done as a guy that should carry the load. Mason showed a lot running against a stacked box yesterday when everyone knew it was time for runs. He did what almost no other running back of the Niners has been able to do for a long time, RUN OUT THE CLOCK. Kyle needs to throw out that silly draft status crap and give the guy that has shown the ability the carries. TDP just only be RB #3. Mason on 1st or 2nd downs, more of CMC on 2nd and 3rd downs.

    1. The reason Mason has had more opportunities is because he plays on special teams. When both are active (due to injuries) TDP has been the preferred back and as Jack has stated, he believes this will be the case again this time. Sometimes fans are too tough on rookies. It often takes time to getup to speed as a professional and even when they do, veterans who are more trusted will get the snaps. Both of them will get their opportunities and it’s not possible to know which will end up being the better back. It’s always a good idea to view a performance like Mason had once the game is already decided with a wary eye. Did the defense let up?

  5. Christian may have some big personal things on his mind, like whether former Miss Universe Olivia Culpo, his fiancee, can bear his children or not. It was a big big part of Episode 3 last week of The Culpo Sisters on TLC, and Christian was mentioned. Is it affecting him? Well, if he’s not playing up to par, per Jack above, an emotionally distraught GF sure could be a reason why, re: Tom Brady & Giselle

  6. Make that two players that need to go next season. Don’t mean to be harsh, but if you’re injury prone they gotta let them go. Holding on to these types of players haven’t panned out to well for SF. Kinlaw and Mitchell must be released after this season. Maybe we can get 3 or 4 games out of them this season. After that. Gotta go.

    1. Ninermd,
      Football is no longer run by common sense but by cap sense. What would it cost them on the cap to cut Kinlaw and or Mitchell. That has become more important than what makes the most football sense.

  7. Pretty amazing the 49ers defense is playing at this level even without Armstead & Kinlaw and while playing Jimmie Ward out of position. The selflessness of Ward playing in a position not best suited to his talent during a contract year is awesome. I really hope the 49ers take care of Ward in the offseason. I think Ward might get exposed a little against the Dolphins but that shouldn’t detract from his team first attitude.

    Glad to see you call out the o-line a bit. That effort against the Saints wasn’t very good. If the 49ers make the playoffs, the o-line really need to step it up to win playoff games against teams with better offenses.

  8. Jack
    The 9er offense survived a game they played flat after the game in Mexico, thanksgiving and little practice time to prepare for a N.O. team that came prepared to play.
    * IMO, the 9er O-line got exposed as the teams weak link, by a N.O. D that is better than their record suggests.
    Fortunately, the 9er D played like they’re SB contender and a win is a win!

    Lets thank the Miami players for providing the 9ers with some extra MOTIVATION for the coming game this Sun…..
    * Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson roast Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers before Week 13 game

  9. Trent Williams gets lots of praise, called the best tackle in the NFL and even called the best player by a few experts. However, the Niners don’t run the ball to the left where Williams is stationed and instead run right or up the middle. It seems Williams is overrated and more attention should be paid to his weak run blocking (rather than focusing on his feet giving away plays). The Niners need to improve the running game and that likely starts with Williams doing more.

  10. Week 12, Game 11, the 49ers are 7-4 in first place, and Jack Hammer is writing his analysis on who gets the praise (The Defense) and who doesn’t (OL, RBs).

    Four weeks ago (Week 8, Game 7), the 49ers were 3-4 and were embarrassed on national TV against the modern day Joe Montana (Patrick Mahomes), and Jack Hammer stated the obvious at that time: (1) Defense overrated, (2) Use Deebo less, (3) Playmakers need to make plays, (4) Special teams are not special, and (5) Too many penalties. Although Jimmy G completed 25-37 (68%) for 303 yards, 2 TDs, 1 Int, and had a safety, the press blamed Jimmy G again. I agreed with Inside the 49ers Jack Hammer’s five reasons, but I took a different angle and placed the blame on the coaches for NOT making in-game adjustments, having an ill prepared coaching week (penalties), non-existent QB coaching, lousy play calling, etc…

    In addition, I made a table with three columns for the first seven games: the first column indicated who won the first half (or who had the lead at halftime). The 49ers were 5-2 (the 49ers went into halftime with the lead in five games and the 49ers were behind in the other two games). The second column represented who scored more in the second half of each of the seven games. The 49ers were 2-4-1 meaning the 49ers outscored their opponent in two games, the 49ers were outscored by their opponents in four games, in one of those games both teams scored the same amount of points. The third column is the final score for each of the first seven 49ers games. I made this table to point out that the 49ers coaches were being outcoached in the second half of games. In other words, the opponent’s coaches made more in-game adjustments than the 49ers.

    During the past four weeks and four games, the 49ers not only outscored their opponents in the second half of games, but they held their opponents scoreless in the second half. The 49ers are undefeated in these four games since the Chiefs schooled the 49ers. I also pointed out that the Chiefs scored on three jet sweeps. You know what George W said. Fool me once, shame on YOU, Fool me twice, shame on ME. Fool me thrice, shame on the DC and the HC. The following week, the Rams ran a jet sweep with Cooper Kupp and the 49ers defense trounced on it and the Rams had a short gain.

    The 49ers defense made next-game adjustments against the Rams and Cardinals. Against the Rams, Cooper Kupp burnt the 49ers DBs for huge yardage in the previous three games. Three weeks ago, the 49ers shut him down in the second half and won the first game of their current four game winning streak. Last year, Colt McCoy of the Cardinals completed 22-26 for 249 yards, threw for a TD, and smoked the 49ers on screen passes and short passes. Last week, they shut down Colt McCoy’s screen passes and the 49ers won 38-10. The 49ers defense have next game adjustments, will they be able to make next game adjustments against the Chiefs in a possible future Superbowl rematch. Against the upcoming 49ers vs. Dolphins, will they bracket Tyreek Hill (over and under)? Will DC Ryans make halftime adjustments and in-game adjustments to stop Tyreek Hill and shut Mostert’s mouth up?

    The 49ers offense have also made adjustments to their offense as they are passing slightly more (345 passing attempts to 310 rushing attempts). In my opinion, the 49ers need to throw more intermediate and deep passes to stretch the opponents defense. This will help them in several ways. First, the long pass will set up the run game and short passing game. Second, by completing long passes in regular season games, it will build Jimmy G’s confidence for a better playoff run. Third, if you rebuild his trust and develop his QB skills, he can be a “come from behind” QB. If you don’t work on your weaknesses, you won’t overcome your weaknesses.

    When I was young and played HS basketball, my game was from the outside in. As a guard, I learned that trying to score inside, the taller players will swat your shot, laugh, and boast. So I made an adjustment to score mostly from the outside. My favorite player was Rick Barry because he scored a lot of his points from the outside. He also ran a pick and roll with Clifford Ray. If Ray’s defender didn’t switch, he easily made the outside jump shot. If his man contested the shot, Rick Barry would pass the ball to Ray for a dunk. One of the many reasons why he was in the top ten in assists as a forward. In another example, Rick Barry would shake his defender by running his defender through many screens, catch the ball with his dribble intact, pump fake his defender, the defender flies by, Rick Barry would take a couple of dribbles to a spot where he can bury the open shot.

    The reason why I shared my learning experience in my younger years is because Jimmy G is not making adjustments, the QB coach is NOT coaching, and the HC has NOT developed a relationship with his QB (like Walsh/Montana, Belichik/Brady, or Reid/Mahomes). Over the years, Jimmy G gets a lot of his passes batted down by the D-Line. Last Sunday, Jimmy G threw a pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage and almost intercepted by a Saints defender. Jimmy G needs to mix in some pump fakes or shoulder dips to freeze the defense. Or he could throw it with more arc. In “The Catch”, Montana was rolling right as he chased by three cowboys: Ed “Too Tall” Jones (6’9″), Larry Bethea, and DD Lewis. Montana made two pump fakes to get the three cowboys to jump, so he could throw the ball to Dwight Clark in the back of the end zone. The 49ers OC or HC also need to teach Jimmy G to look in the opposite direction to fake the defense. For example, WR2 (left end) does a slant, WR1 (right side) does a down and out, RB1 runs a fly pattern down the right sideline, TE (right end) blocks and runs a delayed release (check down). The play is designed to go RIGHT, Jimmy G needs to look LEFT, pump fake left to freeze the defenders, and roll the pocket right as Jimmy G has three targets: WR2 first down yardage, RB1 and WR2 could be the home run, TE and RB2 are the outlets. This play could be flipped, Jimmy G pump fakes to WR1 on the slant, and he rolls left. The point of this example is to coach Jimmy G with pump fakes, rolling the pocket, so he can throw deeper passes from a different angle and his passes won’t be batted down. If there’s a blitzer, QB signals to RB1 to take on the blitzer instead of running the pattern. The O-Line coach also needs to pay attention to detail because Trent Williams tipping pass plays. The O-Line coach needs to have the players in a three point stance whether it’s a pass play or a run play.

    As I have stated before, the 49ers have a good chance to make it to the playoffs, and possibly a Superbowl, but they probably won’t win it because the 49ers coaches are NOT making the adjustments and probably not changing their offensive scheme to stretch the defense. It will probably be Mahomes and the Chiefs or Josh Allen and the Bills who will probably represent the AFC, and these QBs can sling the ball and come from behind. The chances of the 49ers beating the Chiefs or Bills are slim because the 49ers defensive weakness is in the secondary and the 49ers offense works only when the running game sets up the passing game. In addition, once a run-first offense, it’s difficult to come from behind.

    The blueprint for five Superbowl wins have resided in the 49ers library for the last 30-40 years. Why are we a run-first team? It only makes sense to pass the ball because all of the rule changes have benefitted the offense (protecting the QBs and receivers). Moreover, the 49ers luckily had a pass interference called back when the Saints were also called for holding, illegal motion, or hands to the face. The result was offsetting penalties and to replay the down.

    You can’t always have YES people who blowing sunshine and singing praises when there are weaknesses. NBC Sports Net has a bunch of people who will only praise or criticize what 49ers management dictate. If you have a weakness, you need to address it before the real (playoffs) season begins. I’m a 49ers Faithful and I want to see a sixth Lombardi Trophy at Levi’s Stadium.

  11. We may have our best test over the past few weeks on Sunday against Miami.
    They are a team on the rise and have the talent and head coach to make things interesting.

    But the 49ers will also be up for the game because of the above mentioned and they know that beating Miami validates their current rise and gives them solid credibility.
    This should have been a Sunday night game, but my guess is that it will garner high ratings either way.

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