Nobody will use Sunday’s game between the Saints and 49ers as a textbook example of offensive football, but there are plenty of ways to win and the 49ers defense did more than enough to get the team a victory at Levi’s Stadium.
The Saints picked up 260 yards, running back Alvin Kamara lost a pair of fumbles, and defensive end Nick Bosa came up with a timely sack to propel the 49ers to a 13-0 home win. The win moves them to 7-4 and it will leave them in first place in the NFC West regardless of what happens with the Seahawks.
Bosa’s sack came on a fourth down with just over six minutes left to play. The Saints moved to the four-yard-line after a defensive holding penalty on Deommodore Lenoir, but Andy Dalton threw three straight incompletions before Bosa’s sack closed the door on any comeback hopes.
Kamara’s fumbles came on the first drive of the day and on the 49ers’ one-yard-line a bit earlier in the fourth quarter. The Saints also missed a field goal and committed a number of costly penalties on both sides of the ball over the course of the proceedings.
The 49ers had their share of miscues and they seemed content to sit on their lead while letting the defense lead the way in the second half. Jimmy Garoppolo finished 26-of-37 for 222 yards and a touchdown. Running back Elijah Mitchell ran well, but left the game with a knee injury and Christian McCaffrey managed just 32 yards on 11 carries on the afternoon.
They’ll move on to one of the marquee matchups of Week 13 when they host the Dolphins.
The loss drops the Saints to 4-8, but they’re somehow not out of the mix for the NFC South title at this point. The Buccaneers and Falcons both have five wins and the Panthers are also 4-8 after Sunday’s games and the Saints have games against all of them before the season is out. It’s probably not realistic that these Saints will suddenly start playing well enough to stack together wins, but the same could be said of every team in the division.
A Monday night trip to Tampa is on tap for Week 13 and anything but a win there will make it a lot harder to keep even the faintest hopes of a playoff berth alive.