Grading 49ers' offense, defense in shutout of Saints


SANTA CLARA — Unlike the 49ers’ Week 11 victory in which everyone on both sides of the ball made a contribution, this one was all about the defense.

The 49ers pitched a shutout Sunday against the New Orleans Saints in a 13-0 victory at Levi’s Stadium, which had a completely different look than their victory a week earlier against the Arizona Cardinals in Mexico City.

There still is plenty of room to improve on offense while the 49ers continued their win streak with a fourth consecutive victory to open a three-game home stretch.

“We’re in a good spot,” 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. “We just got to keep this thing rolling.”

Here is a look at the team’s report card from their Week 12 victory:

Rushing offense

The Saints stacked the line of scrimmage and did not allow the 49ers to get anything going on the ground. They made it tough on the 49ers, and it was not until late in the game when the 49ers got anything going.

San Francisco was able to run out the final 6:18 of the game with eight rushing attempts in nine plays. Undrafted rookie Jordan Mason closed the game out with carries of 9, 4, 5 and 7 yards.

Christian McCaffrey did not have much room to run, as he gained just 32 yards on 11 carries. Elijah Mitchell had 35 yards on seven attempts before leaving with a left knee injury.

The 49ers managed just 3.3 yards on 29 rushing attempts.

Grade: C-plus

Passing offense

It was not pretty, but the 49ers made just enough plays in the passing game — and most of them came from Jauan Jennings, the team’s No. 3 receiver.

Jennings accounted for three converted third downs, and had a 5-yard touchdown catch off a deflected pass in the back of the end zone.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s stat line was solid, completing 26 of 37 pass attempts for 222 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He was sacked just once for minus-1 yard when he tried to scramble for a touchdown on a fourth-down play.

Grade: B-minus

Rushing defense

The 49ers’ run defense got things going early with Fred Warner’s forced fumble of Saints running back Alvin Kamara, which Samson Ebukam recovered. That takeaway set up a 49ers field goal in the first quarter.

Kamara, one of the top running backs in the league, was held to 13 yards on seven rushing attempts.

What does that say about the team’s run defense? “It says, ‘Mission accomplished,’” 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa said.

The league’s best run defense continued to excel in this area. Quarterback Andy Dalton led the Saints in rushing with 21 yards on four scrambles, as the 49ers held the Saints to just 2.9-yard average on the ground.

Grade: A

Passing defense

The 49ers held the Saints out of the end zone, as the pass defense came up big in key spots.

After a short pass to Kamara, safety Talanoa Hufanga forced a fumble and Dre Greenlaw recovered it at the 49ers’ 1-yard line.

A few minutes later, Warner made a nice play to break up a would-be touchdown pass to tight end Juwan Johnson in the fourth quarter. Nick Bosa had a sack of Dalton on a fourth-down play late in the fourth quarter.

Dalton completed 18 of 29 pass attempts for 204 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.

Grade: A

Special teams

Kicker Robbie Gould made field goals of 24 and 46 yards, along with an extra point, to account for more than half of the team’s points.

Punter Mitch Wishnowsky had a net average of 39.3 yards on four punts, including two of which he landed inside the 20-yard line.

Ray-Ray McCloud had 18 yards on two punt returns. Sam Womack, who has played very well as a gunner, was penalized 15 yards for failure to promptly return to the field of play after being forced out of bounds on punt coverage.

Grade: B


Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans continues to push all the right buttons for a 49ers defense that has shut out the opposition in the second halves of four consecutive games. This time, the 49ers did not just save their defensive dominance at halftime. They did it from start to finish.

The offense did not continue the momentum that side of the ball seemed to build in their 38-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Mexico City.

Grade: A-minus


The 49ers did not have any sustained success on offense. But that’s OK for them because the defense once again carried this team to the win.

The 49ers took sole possession of first place in the NFC West with a 7-4 record, as the second-place Seattle Seahawks fell to 6-5 with a loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.

Grade: A-minus

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