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Wrapping Up the Saints Loss to the 49ers

This is your one-stop shop for all the postgame coverage of the New Orleans Saints' 31-21 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

The Niners upended Colston and the Saints winning streak on Sunday.
The Niners upended Colston and the Saints winning streak on Sunday.
Stacy Revere

San Francisco 49ers Defeat New Orleans Saints, 31-21 |
The San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1) snapped the New Orleans Saints (5-6) three-game winning streak and 15-game winning streak in November contests, with a 31-21 win at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday.

San Francisco 49ers 31, New Orleans Saints 21 |
NFL GAMEHQ: Final statistics, recap, box score, drive charts, photos, highlights.

San Francisco 49ers 31, New Orleans Saints 21 |
NFL Game Center - Watch video of the game, buy tickets, get stats & depth charts, game highlights, analysis, recap, and discuss with other NFL fans!

New Orleans Saints Postgame Notes |
With three touchdowns today, Drew Brees became the third quarterback in NFL history to throw for 30+ touchdowns in five or more seasons.

Saints - 49ers Pregame Photos |
The New Orleans Saints take on the San Francisco 49ers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Sunday, November 25, 2012.

Saints-49ers In Game Photos |
The New Orleans Saints take on the San Francisco 49ers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Sunday, November 25, 2012.

Saints vs 49ers Photo Gallery |
Photos taken at the New Orleans Saints vs San Francisco 49ers game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday, November 25, 2012. Photos taken by Michael C. Hebert.

Photos: Saints, 49ers showdown in the 'Dome |
Pictures from the Saints-49ers matchup.

49ers vs Saints coverage

49ers vs Saints box score

Niners Nation


From the Saints Sideline

New Orleans Saints blow opportunity to move into sixth spot in NFC with loss to 49ers |
Nakia Hogan - It was all there for the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

First-and-10: Drew Brees' bad day at the office too much for New Orleans Saints to overcome |
Mike Triplett - Star quarterback threw two pick-sixes in four-minute span.

Ten more observations: New Orleans Saints not out of playoff picture |
Mike Triplett - But they would have put themselves in much better position with win.

Quick Take: 49ers take advantage of key Brees mistakes |
Ken Trahan - The better team won. That simple.

New Orleans Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers: How the game was lost |
Larry Holder - Pick-six at end of first half changed the momentum.

New Orleans Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers: Did you see (or hear) |
Larry Holder - Fourth-string right tackle forced to play most of the game.

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston etches place in franchise history |
Katherine Terrell - Colston became franchise touchdown leader with touchdown No. 56 on Sunday

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees continues to extend records in loss |
Katherine Terrell - Brees extended two streaks on Sunday.

Carts kept busy as New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers suffer casualities in tough game |
Katherine Terrell - Saints lost third right tackle

New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley ejected from Sunday's game against San Francisco 49ers |
Katherine Terrell - Bunkley was ejected after kicking.

Colin Kaepernick continues to make strides though still not officially 49ers starter |
Terrance Harris - San Francisco 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh raised some eyebrows early last week.

New Orleans Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers: Grading the offense |
Doug Tatum - Two fleur de lis out of four.

New Orleans Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers: Grading the defense |
Doug Tatum - 2.5 fleur de lis out of four.

New Orleans Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers: Grading the special teams |
James O'Byrne - 3.5 fleur de lis out of 4

New Orleans Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers: Grading the coaching |
Doug Tatum - 2.5 fleur de lis out of four.

With another physical win in a marquee matchup, 49ers show they own the Saints |
Jeff Duncan - Ricky Jean Francois chirped "Who Dat?!" to the crowd like a giddy teenager as he trotted off the field at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday.

New Orleans Saints aren't balanced enough, physical enough to make playoffs |
Pete Finney - Saints were beaten by a better opponent.

Saints let opportunity slip through hands, room for error gone |
Bradley Handwerger - All the Saints had to do was win Sunday.

Forecast: Saints loss to 49ers simple to explain |
Ralph Malbrough - No team, especially the 2012 New Orleans Saints, are beating the best team in the NFL after giving up two interception returns for touchdowns.

49ers' Defense Too Much for Saints as Saints lose 21-31 |
Andrew Juge - At one point the Saints led 14-7 with under a minute left in the first half and were getting close to field goal range for a possible chance at a 17-7 lead at the break.

Wrap-up: 49ers 31, Saints 21 - NFC South Blog |
Pat Y. - Thoughts on the New Orleans Saints' 31-21 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday.

New Orleans Saints-style tailgating goes on, win or lose |
Prescotte Stokes, III - Includes video.


Niners Notes

Kaepernick, defense lead way in 31-21 win over Saints |
Eric Branch - Ten months after their instant-classic divisional playoff game, the 49ers and Saints teamed up for another memorable tussle Sunday.

49ers Outslug Saints 31-21 |
Taylor Price - Sunday afternoon saw the latest "rough, tough, physical football game" coached by San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Rapid Reaction: 49ers 31, Saints 21 - NFC West Blog |
Mike Sando - Thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers' 31-21 victory over the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome in Week 12.


Postgame Quotes



"One of the things we felt pretty good about going into the game was the pressure package that we had all year long defensively. We had an early injury at offensive tackle, which is tough, so we struggled a little bit protecting Drew Brees. We won the turnover battle if you put the blocked field goal in there. It comes back to I just didn't get the job done."

(on Brodrick Bunkley's ejection) "One of the keys to this game was keeping your poise. We block a field goal, and have a chance to give our team some field position. He's got to keep his emotions under control and do the right thing. He practices hard and wants to win. We have great confidence in the player, but he has to keep his poise."

(on Drew Brees' performance) "I think they're a good defense. They've got a good front seven. They're physical. We've got some injuries on the offensive line that we had to take care of today. Let me tell you something - if I ever go into a game and Drew Brees is my quarterback, I feel good about it. I feel good about Drew Brees. I love him. We will, and he'll be better next week.

(on run defense) "We said going into the game that their running game was very prolific. They're on course right now to have more big plays of 10 yards or more than anybody in the history of the league. The yards we gave up in the running game in the first half was a tribute to their quarterback making plays, breaking containment. We did a better job today. We did a good job of fitting up the run. We certainly improved and that was good to see."

(on if the interception before halftime change the game?) "Absolutely not. It's one play at a time, one series at a time, one quarter at a time, one half at a time. If we let one play affect us the rest of the game, we're unprofessional. We've overcome things like that before, and it's the nature of our game. It's not a perfect game played by perfect people. We had our opportunities, offensively, defensively and special teams-wise. I've got to coach better, and we've got to play better.

(on if there a was turning point?) "I'll review the film. I'm not going to sit here right now and say there was a turning point in the game one way or the other. We're judged on 60 minutes of how we play and our body of work. We didn't get it done today.

(on Colin Kaepernick) "He does a good job. He makes plays on his feet. He extends the down. He's got a pretty good knowledge of the offense. He's got a good tempo. He did a good job. Give him credit."

"This team plays on a Thursday night against Atlanta. The only thing we're looking forward to right now is to have a great practice when we come back, prepare the right way and play a game Thursday night. That's all we can do. We get to play this game. We don't have to. We get to play this game.

(on short week) "It's always a challenge. We've got to give our players the proper amount of time to rest and heal up. It's a challenge for our players and coaches on a short week. We're not the first one to go through this. The last time we did it was against Dallas two years ago on Thanksgiving Day. We handled the schedule well then, and I anticipate our players will do a great job of handling it this week.

(on the running game) "We're going to do what we have to do to win a football game. The second drive in the third quarter, we ran the ball well, and then we gave up a long drive defensively and all of a sudden, the score is a little unbalanced. We worked that balance on offense and we'll continue to do so.

(on the 49ers) "They're a good football team. Since they've been together (Jim Harbaugh's arrival), they're 21-5-1. They're plus-30, 31 in the turnover/takeaway. They've done a good job. They've got good personnel. They're well-coached. We knew what the challenge was going into this game. I didn't get it done.

(on the offensive line) "When you lose your right tackle (Bryce Harris) and you've got to play with a young man who's been here four days, that's a tough challenge. I think we did a good job of adjusting. I know we gave up five sacks, and that's awful hard for everybody to swallow, but we've got a good offensive line, we've got good players and we'll rebound from this."

(more on 49ers) "They're a good defense. They're a good football team. It is what it is. We're going to work hard to get better."


"Offensively, I felt like we moved the ball well at times. Third down wasn't good enough. Obviously, what was glaring was the two turnovers that resulted in touchdowns for them. That can't happen, especially the first one, the one right there at the end of the first half where you're trying to go down and get something for your team. You certainly can't give it to them inside of 30 seconds and let them get a easy one. Obviously, that was a big momentum swing. Despite all that, and them coming out and going on a quick-strike drive and taking the lead and it's 28-14 all of a sudden, we go right down the field and score, we get it back to a one-possession game and then had really what I felt were a lot of opportunities offensively. We did not take advantage of them.

(on Ahmad Brooks interception) "From what I saw, he made a great job. He caught that thing on his fingertips. He dropped out and we were trying to fit it in there to Jimmy. He just made an extremely athletic play.

(on pressure) "I felt like a lot of that pressure started to come in the fourth quarter, when we were in a down-the-field pass mode. I felt like prior to that, our guys really did a great job, balancing it all out with the run game and protection. We were able to get some balls downfield and get some big plays and helped with those scoring drives.

(on making adjustments when Bryce Harris was injured) "It's not a good thing when your third right tackle goes down in the first quarter, but I felt like Will Robinson stepped in and did a great job. I felt like our guys, our protection scheme, Pete Carmichael as a play-caller having to work that into your thought process, Aaron Kromer having to make those adjustments. I felt like we handled that well, all things considered."

(on offensive pass interference call) "I couldn't see it from my vantage point. I just felt like we had a chance at a big play there. I'm not sure about who was grabbing who.

(on chance to move into second Wild Card spot) "We had to win. It's all right there in front of us. I firmly believe that if we take care of our business and worry about ourselves, things will happen in a way in a way we envision and we're going to have a chance at the end to get in (the playoffs). If we get in because we've rattled off a bunch of wins in a row and we're playing like that, look out. We can be a great job. We understand the sense of urgency and the small margin for error at this point.

(on 49ers' 21-point run) "Obviously, that can't happen. Otherwise, you feel like the defense played great and they only gave up 17 points, we got a big turnover that gave us a two-minute opportunity at the end of the first half, special teams got a big turnover for us. A lot of things went the way that winning a big game like this would go, and then all of a sudden you give them two free ones. That's what they thrive on. The first one (was) completely my fault. Within 30 seconds, obviously we're trying to get down and get some points - a field goal, what have you. I tried to squeeze it in there to Jimmy, and the guy makes an unbelievable. The second one, you're throwing into a tight window, there's a tipped ball and unfortunately, sometimes those things happen. You just don't want them to result in an interception and then returned for a touchdown, especially back-to-back situations. All of a sudden, they rattle off 21 points in a short amount of time when we really felt like we had the game under control."

"In spite of everything, we closed the margin to 28-21 and had at least two opportunities to go down there and tie it up. We put together some good drives at times and then we would just stall out with no chance for points. Then all of a sudden, you get in a situation in the fourth quarter where it's a two-possession game. You've got to start taking some chances. That's when protection becomes even tougher and getting the ball down the field becomes tougher. That's what they thrive on as well."

(on physical game) "We knew coming into this how physical of a team the San Francisco 49ers are on both sides of the ball. I felt like we matched that physicality today. Unfortunately, it's the turnovers in the end that did us in."

(on 49ers) "I think they're one of the best that's out there, one of the most complete when you look at all three phases. Certainly, they've got a great formula for winning. I feel like we do too. We just weren't able to put all that together today.

(on Marques Colston's 56th career touchdown) "I'm extremely happy for him, because I've been lucky enough to throw him every one of those. He's a model teammate in the way he prepares, the way he plays and the way he practices. He's a quiet guy, but his actions speak so loudly, you wouldn't be able to hear what he was saying anyway. He's a great example for the young receivers, guys like Joe Morgan, others on our team. For those of us who have been with him going on seven years, he's in big standing, passing Joe Horn and Deuce McAllister and some of the greats that have been here that we have had a chance to play with as well. (It's a) pretty special honor for him."

(on Falcons game) "It's a quick turnaround for us. It's a quick turnaround for them. They're coming off a physical division battle at Tampa today. I know they won. Obviously, we're pretty fresh off playing these guys not too long ago. We've got to get to their place, we've got to get prepared, we've got to put it all together and hopefully every can wake up tomorrow, not feel as sore as maybe they do now. No rest for the weary and we certainly can't feel sorry for ourselves. We've got a huge game on the road against the leader of our division right now in Atlanta. This is how you feel better, go on and get a win like this."

(on managing quick turnaround) "I think they schedule those Thursday night games by design - divisional opponents, a little more familiarity so there's not a loss of preparation time. It's tough on your body for guys to turn around and do it that quick. We're professionals. That's what we've got to do, that's what we'll do. We understand the importance of this game, and we'll be ready to roll."


(on the difference between Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick) "There is not much difference. They are kind of similar. The one thing I noticed today is that (Colin) Kaepernick might be better at extending the play. Alex Smith can do the same thing, but Kaepernick is a little more elusive and dangerous."

(on today's game) "We lost to a good team. We have a stretch here of good teams that we have to play. We have to find a way to get some wins. It's hard to climb out of a hole when you have two turnovers for scores and don't make them kick field goals on defense. Outside of that, I thought our offense played well, our defense played well and our special teams played well. It's just a tough one to lose."


(on today's game) "We had our opportunities, but hats off to them on stopping us. It is very disappointing because we put a lot of hard work into this. We put a lot of work on that practice field. It hurts the most when we didn't finish the way that we should have. We are going to continue to take this thing one week at a time. We aren't going to look into the future too much. We have a game in about 96 hours, so we have to get our bodies back. We need to take care of that first and get our game plan together. We need to go out and get a win. That's what we need to do."


(on today's game) "Anytime you lose a game it hurts. It's disappointing that we were emotionally and physically ready. For whatever reason, we just didn't come away with a victory. It's back to the drawing board tomorrow. We are going to get these things corrected and get ready for the game on Thursday. It's no better feeling to come back with a win after a loss. We have a tough team that we have to face and it is going to be a great game."


(on the defensive positives) "I guess you could take some positives. I'll be honest in that I don't take any positives away from a loss. We lost. We aren't one of those teams that go for moral victories."

(on today's game) "We are disappointed. We take a day to either celebrate a victory or mourn a loss. We are not afforded that luxury this time. By this time tomorrow, we'll have already watched a few games of Atlanta and get ready for them."

(On Colin Kaepernick's play) "I thought he did a good job managing the game. He didn't force any balls. He did exactly what they asked him to do."



"I think when this is all said and done the players are the best ones to talk about this game because they are the ones that were out there and that was a real rough, tough, physical football game. I think both teams felt it and both teams have great respect for each other coming out of the game because it was a real physical football game. So I'll keep things short here because really the players are the best ones to describe this one. I am really proud of our guys for playing the way they did. It was a hard-fought, contested game and (I give) a lot of accolades to a lot of people."

(on Colin Kaepernick) "Colin played well and in a tough environment he acquitted himself very well."

(on Alex Smith being able to play today) "Yes, he was cleared yesterday."

(on getting Kaepernick prepared to play in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and what adjustments were made for the noise level) "The biggest adjustment we made was just getting back into the huddle faster. As far as preparing for it, I thought he did a great job with managing the game, calling the game and moving the team in and out of the huddle. We were a little slow getting back to the huddle and I think that adjustment really helped us in speeding up the tempo."

(on if he was surprised the Saints ran the ball so much on first down knowing 49ers had such a strong rushing defense?) "I think they mixed it up pretty well and they had some success at times doing that. They have a very good running game, but big plays by the defense really swung the game for us, two interceptions for touchdowns. It was a great job by Ahmad (Brooks), it looked like he was shot out of a cannon after he intercepted that ball and Donte Whitner also did a great job getting that touchdown. We had good tackling again. I thought last week was our best tackling game and we'll see how this one shook out but it looked like we tackled well. They had some hard running backs and some elusive guys in space. Like I said, we have a lot of respect for the Saints."

(on the crowd's effect on third downs) "It was a big part of the game, third downs on both sides and I haven't looked at the statistics but I feel like we won those battles offensively on third down (offensively) and defensively. I thought we got the better of it on third down, and that is without seeing it statistically, just my intuition and watching it."

(on Kaepernick's ability to extend plays while being pressured) "I think he did a really nice job extending plays and we were kind of cut at the knees with penalties in the first half and they were resulting in some big plays. There were a couple throws that he made getting outside of the pocket, particularly one down the sideline to (Michael) Crabtree, Crabtree made a nice grab and run, big yardage we lost on that plus a penalty. And (there was) another conversion that stopped drives and we had converted on the play so you talk about stopping yourself. Colin and all the guys made some big plays that penalties hurt. Even the last touchdown that Frank (Gore) got was taken away by holding. We have some things to work on there."

(on Kaepernick's read option play) "He has a real knack for it. He has a special ability, honed it in college and has taken it to the pro level. He can cover ground real fast and he has an eye for making the read. He came with that ability. I take no credit for that one."


"I think he (Colin Kaepernick) did a great job today. When I see him play, I see a playmaker. He has so much ability and he's always helping his team out. It's a difficult situation he's in, but he's doing great. I still think Alex (Smith) is the man. But it's the coaches' call and I am sure Coach Harbaugh will make the right decision.


(on the noise) "It was real loud at times and we had to work on communicating the plays early on to be effective. I had to audible a lot to communicate to the guys what we were doing. Other than that, the offense played the way it should."

"It's hard to play on a short week, but you have to grind it out like every other week. You've got to go out there and run your stuff. And no one is going to notice or care if you lost and it happened on a short week. It really doesn't matter."

(on his running touchdown) "It was a great read by the coaches and the guys made the blocks in front of me. All I had to do was run it in."


(on today's game) "We just wanted to have as much pressure as possible. We know Drew Brees is one of the top passers in the NFL and we just wanted to collapse the pocket as much as possible, and by doing that were able to get him off his mark a little bit. By closing the pocket and getting some hands in his face, we were able to get him off his game a little bit today."

"With us having those interceptions today for scores, that just shows you what kind of defense we have. With the guys we have you never really know which player is going to make the plays to make the difference in the games. This week it was me and Donte Whitner who make the big plays for our defense out there. An all 11 of us played great out there today.


"We knew coming into this game that they have a high-powered offense and we knew that we were going to be in for a fight out there. But we also knew that with their offense they throw a lot of balls in the air. But one thing we also knew is that they run the ball and they ran the ball well against us today."

"We know how good our defense is - especially coming off of last week's win against Chicago. It wouldn't have done us any good to come out here and not repeat the performance because we knew the Saints have a good offense. We know we gave up some yards, but when it counted, our defense held together and won the game for us


(on his interception return for a touchdown) "You have to give credit to Dashon (Goldson). He made a very physical play on (Marques) Colston. When you are physical on guys, they tend to not focus as much. So there it was - the ball tipped up and the only thing I told myself was to catch it and I just caught it and it was easy from then on.


V-Roll Roll Call

Joe Vitt Postgame Press Conference |
Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Coach Joe Vitt speaks with reporters after the New Orleans Saints vs San Francisco 49ers game on Sunday, November 25, 2012.

Drew Brees Postgame Press Conference |
QB Drew Brees holds a press conference after the New Orleans Saints vs San Francisco 49ers game on Sunday, November 25, 2012.

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