4:35 PM ET
Nick WagonerESPN Employees Author
- Lined Rams for 9 years for stlouisrams.com
- Beforehand coated College of Missouri soccer
- Member of Professional Soccer Writers of America
In a recreation with main NFC playoff implications, the Niners had simply sufficient firepower to carry off New Orleans and go away with a scintillating 48-46 victory. The win was San Francisco’s first in New Orleans since 2014 and gave the Niners their first 11-win season since 2013.
San Francisco kicker Robbie Gould booted a 30-yard discipline objective because the clock expired to ship the Niners to the victory. The kick got here after the Niners drove to New Orleans’ 12-yard line with beneath a minute to play. A 39-yard completion to tight finish George Kittle plus a face masks penalty on Marcus Williams put the Niners in place.
Within the course of, the 49ers additionally grew to become the 12th group since 1978 to win 11 or extra video games after profitable fewer than 5 within the earlier season. The loss was the Saints’ sixth straight in an everyday season recreation towards a group with a minimum of 10 wins.
At 11-2, the Niners now maintain an essential tiebreaker within the race for the highest seed, though they nonetheless want the Seattle Seahawks to lose one other recreation earlier than they’ll bounce again into that spot. Regardless, San Francisco now holds a head-to-head edge towards each the Saints and the Inexperienced Bay Packers, one other prime contender within the NFC.
For the 10-Three Saints, the loss removes them from the highest seat within the NFC playoff image and tosses them right into a jumbled mess that features the Niners, Packers, Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings. New Orleans has already clinched the NFC South division however has its eyes on a first-round bye and, doubtlessly, the highest seed within the NFC. Whereas New Orleans holds the tiebreaker towards Seattle, it now would not have one towards the 49ers and Packers.
The Niners needed to bounce again again and again with their most resilient efficiency in a recreation that featured fireworks proper from the beginning. After a wild first half that noticed the groups mix for 55 factors and 581 yards — the primary time groups had that many mixed factors and yards within the first half since Week eight of 2014 — the Niners protection settled in a bit within the second half by holding New Orleans to 13 factors, whereas the offense got here up with sufficient massive performs and the working recreation stepped up when wanted to salt it away.
The high-caliber soccer performed Sunday ought to have been no shock, on condition that it was solely the fifth recreation between two groups with two or fewer losses this late within the season prior to now 35 years.
San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo did a lot of the heavy lifting to make it occur, ending 26-of-35 for 349 yards with 4 touchdowns and one interception for a passer ranking of 131.7. The four-touchdown effort places Garoppolo with Steve Younger and Jeff Garcia as the one Niners quarterbacks to have a minimum of three video games with 4 or extra touchdowns in a season.
Receiver Emmanuel Sanders was Garoppolo’s favourite goal, ending with 157 yards on seven catches with a landing. Sanders additionally threw a 35-yard landing, giving the 49ers 5 landing passes in a recreation for the primary time since 1990. Sanders grew to become the primary Niner since San Francisco joined the NFL in 1950 to throw for and catch a landing in the identical recreation, the second time he is carried out it in his profession.
The 49ers additionally benefited from some late penalties that went towards New Orleans on a drive that will finally finish with Kendrick Bourne’s second 6-yard landing on the day. The Saints had been flagged thrice on third down, together with a defensive holding and an pointless roughness to assist that drive keep alive.
The Saints managed to remain in it with assist of a penalty, too, as Niners cornerback Richard Sherman was referred to as for holding on a third-down play that nullified a sack and would have compelled a New Orleans punt.
However the 49ers, after dropping their earlier two video games on last-second discipline objectives, discovered a approach to shut this one out and keep accountable for their future within the NFC playoff image.