The Saints offense is largely responsible for the loss to the 49ers, no one more than Drew Brees for a horrible pick six to Ahmad Brooks before halftime that tied the game and forever changed its complexion.
Brees would throw another pick six later, and when you consider the final spread in the game was 10 points, the fourteen given up on the two picks alone loom pretty large.
But if you watched the game you also know the offensive line play was positively atrocious, and the minute the Saints offense went into obvious passing sets they really had no chance.
Drew Brees: C- (2.85) In the entire second half he took a beating. The fact that he left this game without an injury that knocked him out of the game is a small victory. The five sacks aside, he was pressured constantly and hit many times. Still, the picks were killers and while the second wasn't his fault the first was inexcusable. He finished 26 of 41 for 267 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
Mark Ingram: C- (2.21) He didn't have much room to run at all. He finished with just 27 yards on 10 carries. He converted nicely on two 3rd and 1's, but he was also stopped short on another. I question why he saw the most touches.
Darren Sproles: C+ (2.54) He had a punt return for 3 yards and seemed to fair catch a couple punts comfortably. On offense he showed his usual soft hands and decisive cuts. While he was stopped around the line of scrimmage by Aldon Smith, for him to flip Smith on his back and stay up and he pummeled him to the ground was just incredible. What a beast. He led the team with 7 receptions for 65 yards. Without him Brees' sack numbers and stats would have been much worse. Still, he was guilty of a horrible blitz pickup against Patrick Willis that resulted in a sack.
Chris Ivory: B- (3.25) For me he was by far the best runner on the day. Numerous of his plays seemed stuffed around the line of scrimmage but his power and sheer will had him often falling forward. His legs kept churning and he came close to breaking a couple of runs. He gave the vaunted 49ers' run defense a run for their money on the ground. 8 carries for 34 yards. He should remain active and in the mix the rest of the season no matter what.
Pierre Thomas: NO GRADE - He's arguably the team's best back and he had one touch. ONE. Inexcusable.
Jed Collins: A- (2.82) One of the best Saints on the day for sure. He was very physical in the run game, and created holes many times where there was absolutely nothing there. His initial surge was precious, his pass blocking was clean, and he even added 2 receptions for 9 yards and a touchdown. Showed nice athleticism to get inside the pylon on the score.
Marques Colston: C+ (2.61) The second pick six was a result of a high pass he was unable to hold on to, but he did take a huge hit on the play. Hard to blame him for that one too much. He finished with 4 catches for 36 yards and a score. The touchdown moved him ahead of Deuce McAllister to 1st all time in team history with touchdowns. Pretty incredible stat right there. Unfortunately he was bullied by the 49er coverage and blown up on two huge hits.
Lance Moore: B- (2.87) He was a little short to a couple throws, some were on Brees, but the last (where there was interference) he miss timed his jump. He had 3 catches for 61 yards and a circus catch downfield that set up a touchdown, and he drew a couple penalties as well.
Devery Henderson: D+ (2.23) He had just one reception for 6 yards. Considering that Moore and Colston were both knocked out for parts of the game, he should have contributed more. He did come up with an outstanding grab down the sidelines that was an absurd catch, but unfortunately he couldn't keep his second foot in bounds. Sadly this is the Devery we are now used to seeing disappear for large chunks of the year. Of course now that he's been so quiet and we're down on him, watch him have a huge game Thursday.
Joe Morgan: C+ (1.96) Came up with a very good catch on a low throw after contact for a big 33 yard reception. He was also targeted on another deep ball where he was flagged for offensive pass interference on Nate Clements. The call was questionable as Clements contacted him first, but he did pull down his arm which was necessary to save an interception.
Jimmy Graham: C (2.43) With the right tackle situation so messy, he played less as the Saints packed in their protection and used jumbo sets much more often. He finished with just 4 catches for 33 yards and added another customary drop.
David Thomas: B+ (2.09) Did a nice job getting in the end zone after stumbling on a pass by Brees. He played extensively due to his prowess blocking, but he also added 4 receptions for 24 yards and a touchdown. A solid contribution by the backup.
Jermon Bushrod: D (2.52) Blocking Aldon Smith is no easy task and he did his best. He was ok at times, especially early, but as the game wore on it was largely a disaster. His run blocking wasn't much better. He forced Brees to step up into the pocket numerous times and unfortunately the interior pressure was just a heavy.
Ben Grubbs: C- (2.70) This is one of the few times I've missed Carl Nicks this season. The sack of Justin Smith in particular was just a case of a stronger player running his blocker over into the quarterback. He was manhandled in pass protection.
Brian de la Puente: D (2.21) He didn't get any push in the run game and struggled mightily in pass protection, responsible for a sack as well. Too many times he was blocking guys sideways instead of north and south. He was pushed around in the trenches.
Jahri Evans: C+ (2.82) Was the best Saint in pass protection and on the ground but got absolutely no help from his teammates. Did his best given the circumstances, but was by no means dominant.
Bryce Harris: NO GRADE - He left in the first quarter with a lower leg injury. Unbelievable that the Saints are now relegated to their 4th string right tackle.
William Robinson: C- (1.67) He actually fared pretty well considering. The Saints ran behind him a couple times and his pass protection got a lot of help early to be tolerable. The 4th quarterback pass blocking was an embarrassment, though. What do you expect more out of a 4th string tackle that's been with the team literally 5 days, though?
Eric Olsen: D (1.89) I can come up with more adjectives and examples from the game tape, but why bother? Suffice to say he sucked.
My Offensive Player of the Game: Jed Collins