It was a classic Saints-49ers game that featured a roller coaster of emotions and fireworks that ended in typical fashion with heartbreak for one of the fan bases. Today it was the Saints who were left stunned as they were unable to finish the job after going up early in the game.
The offense for both teams looked unstoppable at times as they combined to put up 94 points with the final three coming via the foot of 49ers kicker Robbie Gould as time expired to give them first place in the NFC.
Here are some quick observations:
Hill’s stat line may not indicate it, but he has been a steady contributor on the offense, especially with so many injuries to the tight end and full back positions. We saw him take over the opening drive last week against the Atlanta Falcons, and this week he continued to fill in where he could.
He would pick up two first downs for the team, one coming on a pass as a tight end/H-back and the other on the ground as a running back for a crucial fourth down conversion.
His role as the option quarterback may sometimes be questioned for taking the ball out of Brees’ hands, but Hill has been efficient every else around the ball.
However, Hill’s time at quarterback does force defensive coaches to spend extra time preparing for any packages with him at quarterback. Especially something with as many moving parts as this play:
The Saints offensive line did all they could against one of the top front-sevens in the NFL. While the run blocking didn’t seem to be as dominant as usual giving up 6 tackles for a loss, the pass protection prevented any sacks and allowed only three hits on Brees.
The 49ers led the league in sacks coming into the game and boast a bevy of talent and first round pedigree on their defensive line. The o-line prevented Rookie of the year candidate Nick Bosa from wreaking too much havoc on Brees. Luckily All-Pro left tackle was able to return in time from injury and left guard Nick Easton has been solid filling in for starter Andrus Peat. The line won’t face that much talent again this season unless they see the 49ers in the playoffs.
It may not be a wide receiver, but at least Brees has another reliable pass catcher to target in Jared Cook. Since starting the season off slow and returning from injury in week 10 Cook has 19 receptions for 355 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Seemingly made a focal point of the gameplan this week Cook scored the first two touchdowns for the Saints before going out with a concussion. His absence was most felt on the two 2-point conversions that the team attempted, which could have changed the ending of the game.
Hopefully Cook will be ready to go next week against the Indianapolis Colts, who are playing for their playoff hopes. His role on this team is crucial as another weapon for Brees and Payton to work with, especially going down the stretch.
Kamara’s rough day
It was a rough day for the electric third-year running back who failed to get things going on the ground or through the air. His 13 carries only went for 25 yards, which average out to only 1.92 yards per carry, the lowest of his career so far. Adding to his off day, Kamara also had his first lost fumble since week 8 of 2017, his rookie year.
Kamara’s lone explosive play was a 17-yard scamper that came in the beginning of the second quarter.
Outside of that run, a 9-yard reception on a swing route was his only other highlight that also came early in the game.
Even without major contributions from their most explosive player the offense was still able to put up 46 points on a top defense. This shows that the team may be able to start relying on other play makers to move the ball.
The Saints will have an extra day to prepare for their prime time showdown with the Colts next week and should look to bounce back in their final home game of the season.