At one point the Saints led 14-7 with under a minute left in the first half and were getting close to field goal range for a possible chance at a 17-7 lead at the break. Then, Drew Brees threw a horrible interception that was easily returned for a touchdown to make it a 14-14 tie at half. 6 sacks and another pick six later, the Saints lost 21-31. The game was largely a disaster in the second half, but it didn't get out of hand until the Saints turned one dimensional and the 49ers' pass rush pin their ears back. There was some questionable officiating, but make no mistake, the 49ers were just the better team. That defense is extremely talented and I wouldn't be surprised to see them go far. Below are my thoughts on the game bullet style.
- Having Zach Strief or Charles Brown would have made blocking the 49ers hard enough. Bryce Harris started the game only to get knocked out for the duration in the first quarter. William Robinson would play the rest of the game at right tackle and to his credit he played ok until the Saints started throwing every play. Then, it was open season on Drew Brees.
- The right tackle issue was alone to blame for poor protection, de la Puente, Grubbs and Bushrod were all poor in pass protection too.
- This 49ers defense is just scary good. They fly to the football, they're physical and they hit like mules. Both Colston and Moore were knocked out of the game briefly, and frankly I'm surprised they came back.
- The defense played generally pretty well, but that drive that started from the 6 when the score was 21-28 was the back breaker. This loss is mostly on Brees, don't get me wrong, but a stop there at least gave the Saints a chance. After that long drive that ended in the 49ers up 2 scores, it was pretty much over.
- I'm pretty sure this is the first time all season the Saints didn't give up 400 yards to the opposition. So that's good. Frank Gore finished with 83 yards on 19 carries thanks to some big gains late, but for the majority of the game the Saints did a terrific job of shutting him down.
- Cameron Jordan played well, especially rushing the passer. The 49ers' right tackle Anthony Davis is a mammoth in size but Cam beat him repeatedly with his speed and athleticism.
- Broderick Bunkley was ejected late for a miniature version of the Ndamunkong Suh stomp. Just a really stupid move letting his emotions get the best of him. Sadly, that'll probably cost him playing next week.
- The Saints got no sacks despite a decent pass rush. Give Kaepernick credit for his escapability. He's definitely a better quarterback than Alex Smith in my opinion. So much more upside.
- When the Saints became one dimensional, Aldon Smith, Jason Smith and Ahmad Brooks took turns positively mauling the Saints' line. The Saints may need to invest in some better depth with rookies next year.
- The Saints did mostly well in coverage, but missed some critical tackles throughout.
- Jimmy Graham played less due to the need for David Thomas, a better blocker, in protection. I'm concerned that will remain the case for the next two weeks if Zach Strief doesn't return.
- Speaking of Jimmy Graham, another drop. Man that is getting so old.
- Pierre Thomas had 1 carry for 0 yards. That's right, one touch. Jed Collins had two touches. What the hell?
- Chris Ivory did a far better job running the ball than Mark Ingram and should have gotten more looks on the ground.
That's all I got. A brutal loss, but the Saints get to face the Falcons in 4 days so hopefully we can get the bad taste out of our mouths quickly and claw our way back to .500 again.