SANTA CLARA – The 49ers defense dominated today, they forced two fumbles to shutout the New Orleans Saints 13-0 today at Levi’s Stadium. The Saints scored in 332 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL. The last time New Orleans was held scoreless was Week 17 in 2001 against the San Francisco.
The 49ers (7-4) were locked in defensively from the start, linebacker Fred Warner stripped the football from Alvin Kamara and recovered it on the Saints opening possession.
“This one was really special because the way we had to get it,” Warner said. “It’s not like they were just behind the 50-yard line all game. They were right there sniffing the goal line multiple times. Time kind of slows down in those moments where you’re looking teammates in the eyes and saying ‘We have to pull this off.’ These are the ones you remember forever.”
San Francisco came into the contest not allowing a single point in the second half in three straight games. Today, the 49ers put the clamps down on New Orleans with a strong performance for 60 minutes. They became just the fifth team since 1991 to go four straight games without yielding a point in the second half per the Elias Sports Bureau.
“That’s just a testament to our fight. We just need one blade of grass,” said cornerback Charvarius Ward. “No matter where they are on the one-, two- or three-yard line. We just have to fight. We’re going to continue to fight, not let them get in the end zone no matter how close they get to it.”
San Francisco’s stingy defense allowed 260 yards of total offense to the Saints (4-8), who were stopped near the goal line twice in the second half. Safety Talanoa Hufanga registered nine tackles, Hufanga forced Kamara’s second fumble near the goal line in the fourth quarter that was nearly caught by tight end Juwan Johnson in the end zone for a touchdown.
But the ball was knocked loose after Johnson was hit by defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway, and linebacker Dre Greenlaw recovered the ball at the 1-yard line keeping the Saints off the scoreboard for good.
“Just crazy effort,” Greenlaw said. “I looked in the air and saw the ball like 30 feet in the air and said ’Oh snap!” I’m trying to go get the ball and I see one of the guys catch the ball as I’m trying to go get it. Then he dropped it and it was like Christmas right there.”
It was the 49ers’ first shutout since winning 9-0 over the Washington Commanders on Oct. 20, 2019.
“That’s just kind of something we see every day [in practice],” said wide receiver Deebo Samuel. “We know the mentality they go out there with trying to get a stop on every down. So kudos to our defense.”
Jimmy Garoppolo completed 26-of-37 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown on a day where the offense had trouble getting in gear. Garoppolo threw a career-high 28 passes in the first half – the most by a 49ers quarterback in a first half in 13 years.
Garoppolo threw a 5-yard touchdown to wide receiver Jauan Jennings, who made an acrobatic catch over safety Tyrann Mathieu capping off a 9-play, 57-yard drive that gave San Francisco a 10-0 lead at halftime. Jennings had a team-high six catches for 49 yards receiving and a touchdown.
“Oh man, it felt awesome,” Jennings said. “That whole entire drive, I was just locked in, focused on making the plays when the opportunity comes my way, I just want to make them.”
Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk led the 49ers with 65 yards receiving on five catches. Running back Elijah Mitchell led San Francisco with 35 yards rushing on five carries before exiting the game with a knee injury and never returned. Fellow backfield mate Christian McCaffrey had 11 carries for 32 yards but appeared compromised with a knee issue of his own.
Andy Dalton completed 18-of-29 passes for 204 yards for New Orleans, who couldn’t gain any traction on the ground rushing for just 63 yards.
“We weren’t able to finish them and we had opportunities to make plays today,” said Dalton. “We did not capitalize on it and that affected the whole outcome of the game.”
The 49ers only sack of the game couldn’t come at a better time, when defensive end Nick Bosa brought down Dalton on fourth down after the Saints had first-and-goal from San Francisco’s own 4-yard line. Bosa is third in the NFL with 11.5 sacks.
“We had some opportunities, and you’re not going to beat a good team unless you make plays that are there to be made,” Saints coach Dennis Allen said. “If you turn the football over, you’re not going to beat a good team.
San Francisco who have won four straight games for the first time since 2019, look to continue their winning ways next Sunday when they welcome former offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel and the 8-3 Miami Dolphins to town.
“We got four wins in a row right now,” Ward said. “We have to keep doing our thing.”
Photo by 49ers/Twitter
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