Dominant defense by San Francisco carries team to 13-0 win over saints

Nov 27, 2022, 6:34 PM | Updated: Nov 28, 2022, 8:20 am
Taysom Hill #7 of the New Orleans Saints is hit by Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers during ...
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 27: Taysom Hill #7 of the New Orleans Saints is hit by Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers during the first half at Levi's Stadium on November 27, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

It wasn’t pretty, but in the end, defense reigns supreme in Santa Clara.

The San Francisco 49ers have now gone six straight quarters without allowing a single point, dominating the New Orleans Saints, 13-0, Sunday afternoon.

In a game where the 49ers didn’t look their best offensively, the defense stepped up to carry the load, holding the Saints to only 260 net yards. San Francisco also produced two turnovers, something that was lacking despite the unit’s performance this season.

The first one came on the opening drive when linebacker Fred Warner punched the ball out of Saints running back Alvin Kamara’s hands, forcing the fumble. 49ers defensive end Samson Ebukam made the recovery, giving San Francisco the ball inside their opponent’s 50-yard-line.

The second came at one of the most pivotal times of the game: fourth & goal.

With more than 11 minutes to go in the game, the Saints faced a vital fourth down at the goal line. Quarterback Andy Dalton found Kamara in the flat where he was met immediately by LB Dre Greenlaw for the stop. Fighting through the tackle, safety Talanoa Hufanga speared the ball loose from Kamara, causing chaos on the field that ultimately ended with the home team recovering the ball at the one-yard line.

In total, the 49ers faced 16 plays inside the team’s 30-yard-line in the second half, stonewalling New Orleans at every turn. A testament to defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and his play-calling, likely to get a few head coaching offers after the season.

“Yeah, man. He’s tremendous,” Warner said regarding his defensive coordinator. “Every week the game plan that he puts together is on point. You know, they make it easy for us.”

That play-calling put the nail in the coffin late in the fourth quarter, when the 49ers were again faced with a fourth and goal.

This time it was Nick Bosa coming up clutch, timing his jump perfectly to get a beat on Dalton for the game-sealing sack with six minutes to go in the game. Bosa now has 11.5 sacks on the season, among the league leaders in all major pass-rushing categories.

Sunday was also historical for the 49ers, becoming the first team to shut out New Orleans in 332 games. Let that sink in, 332 games played, meaning the last time the Saints were held scoreless was Week 17 in 2001.

The team to hold them previously: None other than the San Francisco 49ers.

“Mission accomplished,” Nick Bosa said after the game Sunday. “You’ve got to protect every blade of grass. And we did.”

Week 12’s win came at a price though, with the offense only able to manage 13 points against the Saints. To make matters worse, multiple skill players got hurt Sunday, including both running backs Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell. The latter’s injury is believed to be the worst of the pair, suffering an MCL sprain to his knee. Mitchell returned from a similar injury after the team’s Bye Week against the Chargers, now possibly facing another absence with the same injury to the other knee.

As for McCaffrey, he has what head coach Kyle Shanahan is describing as “knee irritation” and will be monitored closely this week.

“Hopefully Christian [McCaffrey] will be all right, too,” Shanahan said postgame.

Additionally, guard Spencer Burford left the contest with an ankle injury, but the team believes it may be lateral, instead of a high-ankle sprain. His timeline is unclear at this time.

QB Jimmy Garoppolo also took a few licks today, including a low blow to his surgically-repaired knee that left the gunslinger in pain for the rest of the afternoon.

“Jimmy took some hits today. I don’t have anything exact on that, but he’s more sore than usual,” Shanahan added.

Jimmy G finished with 222 yards passing and one touchdown in Week 12. With the team’s win, Garoppolo improved t0 40-19 as a 49er, tying hall-of-famer Steve Young.

A win is a win, as the 49er defense shined once again, producing their fourth straight game with a second-half shutout. San Francisco also improves to 7-4 on the season, now a full game ahead of the Seattle Seahawks.

“Film don’t lie. You turn on the silent tape, you see all 11 people running around fiercely trying to play football and take somebody’s head off, and I just don’t see that from other teams,” Greenlaw stated Sunday.


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Dominant defense by San Francisco carries team to 13-0 win over saints