Mon, 06 Feb 2023

49ers Defense Shuts Out the Saints; 8 Takeaways from #NOvsSF

San Francisco 49ers
28 Nov 2022, 22:44 GMT+10

Lindsey Pallares

The San Francisco 49ers kicked off their three-game homestand with a 13-0 shutout of the New Orleans Saints. It was a defensive battle from the start with just three points scored between the two teams through the first 29 minutes of game action. That trend continued for the rest of the game with San Francisco's offense grinding it out to put up another 10 unanswered points. On the other side of the ball, the 49ers defense continued with its gritty style of play, robbing New Orleans of two scoring opportunities in the red zone.

"It was a grind, man. I give credit to their defense," head coach Kyle Shanahan said. "We had an idea coming in that it would be like that... It was great that our guys just kept coming back out, grinded it out and we were able to finish with the ball in our hands."

Here are eight takeaways from Sunday's Saints-49ers game:

Fred Warner Gets the Defense Going Early

The veteran linebacker wasted no time in setting the tone for San Francisco's defensive unit, forcing a fumble on the Saints opening drive. Warner punched out the ball from New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara's hands, and defensive lineman Samson Ebukam was on hand to recover the rock. That early takeaway set the 49ers up on New Orleans 46 yard line, and San Francisco scored a 24-yard field goal on the ensuing drive.

49ers Take a Chance on Fourth Down, Twice

Shanahan was aggressive on fourth down, opting to go for it twice in the first half of Sunday's contest, and the 49ers converted on one of those two attempts. San Francisco's successful fourth down conversion came on its first offensive series. Running back Christian McCaffrey rushed for one yard to pick up the first down, and three plays later, kicker Robbie Gould hit the 24-yard field.

Jauan Jennings Hauls in his First Touchdown of the Season

The 49ers third down specialist snagged his first score of the 2022 season in the final minute of the first half to put San Francisco up 10-0. Jennings played a huge role in the 49ers nine-play 57-yard scoring drive, catching four of his first five receptions during that series. He closed out Sunday's contest with six catches for 49 yards and a touchdown.

"Jauan is clutch for us," Shanahan said. "He kept us out on the field a couple of times and got us those points."

The 49ers Defense Posts a Complete Shutout

San Francisco's defense continued to play lights out, keeping the Saints scoreless for the entire game. The shutout is the first by San Francisco since Week 7 of the 2019 season versus the Washington Commanders and follows a string of three-straight second half shutouts posted by defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans' unit. The 49ers have outscored their last four opponents 104 to 40.

"They were unbelievable today," Shanahan said. "I thought they had a chance to do well, but they surpassed that... They were great, getting the two turnovers. It was a big time day by them."

Injuries from Sunday's Contest

Running back Elijah Mitchell sustained a knee injury versus the Saints and was designated as questionable to return early in the third quarter. As a result, rookie Jordan Mason got the call up on offense, taking offensive snaps in his third game this season. Mitchell had seven carries for 35 yards before later being ruled out of the game. In his postgame address, the head coach stated it is likely that Mitchell is dealing with another MCL sprain. The injury is not a continuation of his MCL sprain from earlier in the season, and it is thought to not be as severe as the previous injury.

Rookie guard Spencer Burford suffered an ankle injury in the third quarter and did not return to game action. Per Shanahan, Burford likely has a lateral injury which is less serious than a high ankle sprain.

Wide receiver Deebo Samuel suffered a knee contusion on Sunday but returned to the game. Running back Christian McCaffrey also dealt with a knee irritation during the game but was also able to return to the field.

Jimmy Garoppolo Delivers Another Solid Performance

On a day where defense prevailed, the 49ers quarterback still put together a good outing, completing 26-of-37 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown. Garoppolo came away with a 94.6 passer rating and a 70 percent completion rate.

Garoppolo took a big hit in the second half that resulted in a roughing the passer call for defensive end Malcolm Roach. Garoppolo was a bit slow to get up after the play, but the quarterback was not on Shanahan's postgame injury list. No. 10 also reiterated he was feeling good after the game and just experiencing a bit of soreness.

"I was staying in the game. I knew what type of game it was, that's what it was all day," Garoppolo said. "That wasn't the only hit that was questionable like that, throughout the whole game it was like that. That's football. It was a gritty game. I'm proud of the guys today. How they fought through all the adversity that was thrown at us, all types of adversity, and we just kept going. That was a good win for us."

Talanoa Hufanga Forces Goal Line Fumble

The 49ers take a lot of pride in their shutout streak, and after allowing zero points in the first half, the unit robbed the Saints of a scoring opportunity in the fourth quarter. On 2nd and goal, Hufanga delivered a big hit on Kamara, dislodging the ball, and linebacker Dre Greenlaw recovered it after it went loose in the air. The forced fumble was the second of Sunday's game and the first fumble recovery of 2022 for Greenlaw.

"I looked in the air, saw the ball 30 feet in the air and thought, 'oh snap, I'm trying to get the ball...'" Greenlaw said. "It was like Christmas. It was right there so I had to grab it."

Nick Bosa Gets Home, Again

The Bosa sack count has officially reached 11.5 for the 2022 season following his fourth down, game-sealing takedown of Saints quarterback Andy Dalton. With the sack, Bosa has now recorded at least 1.0 sack in nine of the 10 games he played in this year, and as of Sunday afternoon, the defensive lineman's 11.5 sacks put him at No. 3 on the NFL's sack leaderboard.

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