2011 Season Recap, NFC Divisional Playoffs: 49ers Vs. Saints

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 14: Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after running in for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the NFC Divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints at Candlestick Park on January 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won the game 36-32. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints faced off in the NFC Divisional Playoff game to determine who would advance to the Conference Championship. Sean Payton was 5-2 in the post-season entering this game, going up against rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh. It was a +28 turnover ratio team (S.F.) vs. a -3 turnover ratio team (N.O.) -- outstanding offense vs. top-tier defense.

The 49ers won the opening toss and deferred to New Orleans.

1st quarter

On first down, Drew Brees checked it down to Darren Sproles for a gain of 5. On 2nd and 5, Brees completed to backup tight end Michael Higgins for a medium gain and a first down. On 1st and 10, Chris Ivory took the handoff up the gut for a short gain.

On 2nd and 7, Brees from the shotgun threw short to Sproles who put serious a move on NaVorro Bowman and picked up the first down after a gain of 12. On 1st and 10, Brees from the shotgun threw to Robert Meachem off the snap for a gain of 4. On 2nd and 6, Ivory took the handoff for a gain of just 1 yard before being met by Isaac Sopoaga.

On 3rd and 5, Brees from the shotgun went down the right sideline to tight end Jimmy Graham - pass interference on Donte Whitner gave the Saints a first down at the spot of the foul.

Graham had to head to the sidelines after slamming his head against the ground pretty hard.

On first down, Pierre Thomas took the carry up the middle for a gain of 6. On 2nd and 4, Brees from the shotgun threw short to Devery Henderson; Carlos Rogers broke on the football for the near-interception. On 3rd and 4 with an empty backfield, Brees threw to the first down marker for Marques Colston who made the catch.

On first down, Sproles was stopped at the line of scrimmage by Dashon Goldson. On 2nd and 9, Brees threw the screen to Sproles, who gained a few before being stopped by Whitner.

On 3rd and 6, Brees from the shotgun was flushed out right by Aldon Smith; Brees then threw short to Pierre Thomas in the flat who took a crushing shoulder from Whitner shy of the first down/end zone. Thomas lost consciousness and fumbled the football, recovered by Patrick Willis.

On first down, Alex Smith threw complete to Michael Crabtree on the slant for a gain of 9. On 2nd and 1, the 49ers out of the heavy-set package ran Frank Gore up the middle for a short gain and a first down. On 1st and 10, Gore took a toss, found a lane and hit it for a gain of 15 yards and a first down.

On first down, Smith threw to Kyle Williams out of the slot, incomplete with Tracy Porter hanging all over him, no flags. On 2nd and 10, Smith threw complete to Ted Ginn Jr. on the slant for a gain of 11 and a fresh set of downs.

On 2nd and 10, Smith threw complete to Vernon Davis on the cross for a gain of 5. On 3rd and 5, Smith from the shotgun was sacked by Roman Harper.

On 1st and 10, Brees on play-action threw incomplete to Sproles. On 2nd and 10, Ivory took the carry for the gain of 2. On 3rd and 8, Brees from the shotgun going through his progressions was chased out of the pocket and sacked from behind by Aldon Smith.

On first down, Kendall Hunter took the handoff left for a 5-yard gain. On 2nd and 5 at midfield, Smith threw complete to Vernon Davis, two Saints defenders collided into one another and Davis sprinted free down the left sideline, 49 yards for a Niners touchdown.

The 2-play, 54-yard drive lasted under a minute and put San Francisco on top 7-0 over New Orleans.

On 1st and 10 with an empty backfield, Brees from the shotgun is pressured by a blitzing Carlos Rogers, getting rid of it short to Jimmy Graham, who is quickly touched up for a minimal gain.

On 2nd and 6, Brees from the shotgun threw short to Sproles for a gain of a 7 and a first down.

On 1st and 10, Brees stepped up and fired deep - INTERCEPTED - Dashon Goldson with the pick, returning it through traffic inside the NO-5. Goldson disguised his coverage, read the vertical route and jumped it as soon as Brees committed.

On second and goal from the 3-yard line, Smith with no options threw it out of play. On third and goal, Smith threw complete to Crabtree on the slant for a 49ers touchdown. A great play design where two receivers cleared out of a space for Crabtree to fill in, scoring untouched - 14-0 SF.

On the following kickoff, Courtney Roby fumbled the ball initially, then went to pick it back up, losing it again and recovered by the Blake Costanzo. The Tony Montana Squad strikes again.

On first down, Gore took the handoff up the left side for a gain of 2.

2nd quarter

On 2nd and 8, Smith completed to tight end Justin Peele for a gain of 4. On 3rd and 4, Smith from the shotgun found no open receivers, rolled out to his left and threw it away. The 49ers settled for a David Akers field goal to make it 17-0 49ers.

On first down, Brees threw short to Robert Meachem who took it up the right sideline for a gain of 8. On second and short, Brees on play-action checked down to his full back Jed Collins, for a gain of 8 and a first down. On 1st and 10, Brees completed to Colston for 20 yards and a first down.

On 1st and 10, Ivory took a carry up the middle for a short gain. On 2nd and 8, Brees threw high complete to Graham in the end zone for a Saints touchdown, with Willis on the coverage. The Saints get on the board and make it 17-7, Niners still on top.

On 1st and 10, Smith threw the screen to Gore who was tripped up behind the line by Jo-Lon Dunbar. On 2nd and 11, the toss to Gore did not get past the line of scrimmage. On third and long, Smith threw to Gore in the flat for a medium gain, short of the first down.

On 1st and 5, Brees completed to Colston for a gain of 14, stopped by Goldson. On 1st and 10, Brees on play-action can't find anyone open and had to throw it away after nearly being sacked by Parys Haralson. On 2nd and 10, Sproles took a carry up the middle, stopped short by Bowman.

On 3rd and 7, Brees from the shotgun completed to Adrian Arrington for a gain of 14 and a first down. On 1st and 10, Brees threw to Henderson for a medium gain. On 2nd and 3, Brees from the shotgun checked down to Sproles; Ahmad Brooks with the hit to break up the play.

On 3rd and 3, Brees threw down the right sideline complete to Colston for a Saints touchdown, over the head of Chris Culliver - impeccable ball location. The touchdown inched the Saints closer, making the game 17-14 SF.

On 1st and 10, the toss to Hunter went for 10 yards and a 49ers first down. On 1st and 10, Smith from the shotgun handed the ball off to Gore inside for a gain of 9. On 2nd and 1, Smith from the shotgun threw a nice ball over the shoulder of Vernon Davis for a 20-yard gain and a fresh set of downs.

On 2nd and 10, Smith threw to Crabtree on the slant, dropped by Crabtree for a second consecutive drop. On 3rd and 10, Smith from the shotgun was sacked again by Roman Harper and a closing New Orleans front.

On 1st and 10, Brees was hit while he got rid of the football and the ball went into the ground. On 2nd and 10, Brees from the shotgun threw complete to Sproles in the flat, who was met by Goldson. On 3rd and 8, Brees took a shot deep for Henderson - INTERCEPTED - Tarell Brown, stride-for-stride in the coverage, jumped the route and came down with the interception.

On first down, Smith from the shotgun completed to Davis for 7 yards. On 2nd and 3, Smith completed to Kyle Williams for a first down, who took it out of bounds. On 1st and 10, Smith's pass was batted down at the line, intended for Crabtree.

On 2nd and 10, Gore took the handoff back to the line of scrimmage. On 3rd and 9, Smith from the shotgun threw complete to Williams, just short of the first down.

With 59 seconds left on the clock, the Saints offense couldn't compose a last minute scoring drive before halftime. San Francisco went into the half with a 3-pt lead over New Orleans, at 17-14.

3rd quarter

49ers receive to open the second half.

On first down, Smith delivered to Crabtree for a gain of 7. On 2nd and 3, the handoff to Gore went for 2 yards, short of the first down. On third and short, Gore snuck through traffic to pick up the first down on a second effort.

On 2nd and 10, Hunter took the carry for a gain of just 1 yard. On 3rd and 9, Smith from the shotgun was initially taken down by a blitzing Malcolm Jenkins, followed up by a few more Saints.

Andy Lee punted to Darren Sproles, who was stripped by Blake Costanzo, recovered by San Francisco - the Saints fifth turnover of the game comes at the hands of the Tony Montana Squad.

On first down from the NO-26, Gore took the carry for a pickup of 3 yards. On 2nd and 7, Smith under pressure threw it away. On 3rd and 7, Smith threw to Crabtree on the slant, mishandled by Crabtree for this third drop of the day.

David Akers booted one through the uprights for his second field goal, making it 20-14.

On first down, Brees hit Sproles for a medium gain, stopped by Whitner. On 2nd and 4, Brees found Colston for a big gain; 31 yards on the catch-and-run. On 1st and 10, the handoff to Ivory went nowhere.

On 2nd and 8, Brees gets rid of it with serious pressure from Aldon Smith. On third and long, Justin Smith busted through the offensive line from the 2-point stance, looping around and wrapping up Brees for a sack.

On first down, Smith from the shotgun handed off to Ginn who came around in motion - dropped for a short gain. On 2nd and 7, Smith tossed to Gore, who threw back to Smith who couldn't bring it in; Smith recovered the football on the broken trick-play.

On 3rd and 13, Smith threw short to Gore and the 49ers would go three-and-out.

On first down, Brees with tons of time had no one open, eventually went deep to Henderson, incomplete and almost intercepted by Goldson. On 2nd and 10, Brees completed to Henderson on the quick slant for a gain of 13 and a first down. On 1st and 10, Ivory to the handoff up the middle for 7 yards.

On 2nd and 3, Brees completed to Graham for 13 yards into Niners territory. On first down, Brees went deep down the middle to Arrington, one-on-one with Rogers, who closed the gap and perfectly timed the pass breakup. On 3rd and 10, Brees threw the quick slant to Arrington, broken up by Rogers with tight coverage.

On 2nd and 10, Smith with pressure threw deep to an empty area of the field - a pass interference was called on Ginn, declined by New Orleans, resulting in third and long. On 3rd and 10, Kyle Williams was called for pass interference trying to set a pick for Crabtree - the incompletion resulted in fourth down anyway.

On first down, Brees threw complete to Sproles who took it for a first down. On 2nd and 5, Brees completed to Henderson for 7 yards and a first down.

4th quarter

On first down, Brees threw complete to Colston for a gain of 9. On 2nd and 1, Ivory ran up the middle for a short gain and a fresh set of downs. On 1st and 10, Brees from the shotgun stepped up, was hit by Aldon Smith as he released incomplete to Graham.

On 2nd and 10, Ivory was hammered for a loss by Ahmad Brooks - great penetration and anticipation by the defense. On 3rd and 12, Brees fired for the end zone to Colston, off the hands of his receiver, incomplete with Reggie Smith on the coverage.

A Jon Kasay field goal put the Saints back within three points, making it 20-17 SF.

On 2nd and 5, Smith's handoff to Gore went for only 1 yard. On 3rd and 3, Smith threw off the hands of Kyle Williams, nearly picked off by Patrick Robinson. The 49ers sent out their special teams punting unit once again.

On first down, Brees on play-action was chased and wrapped up by Justin Smith, throwing the ball away, incomplete. On 2nd and 10, Brooks busted through the middle and sacked Brees. On 3rd and 17, Justin Smith bull rushed Jermon Bushrod, reached Brees, grabbed the quarterback by the jersey and let his body weight take all three of them to the ground.

On 1st and 10, Gore took the inside handoff, finally breaking free for a 42-yard gain into Saints territory. On first down, Hunter took the toss for a gain of 4 off the right side. On 2nd and 6, the handoff to Anthony Dixon was stopped at the line of scrimmage.

On 3rd and 6, Smith from the shotgun threw, as his pass was batted down at the line into Gore's hands, who gained a couple after the broken play. Akers hit his third consecutive field goal of the day to make it 23-17 SF.

On 1st and 10, Brees on play-action dumped it short to Sproles, stopped immediately by NaVorro Bowman. On 2nd and 9, Brees from the shotgun fired incomplete. On 3rd and 9, Brees completed to Henderson for a gain of 12 yards and a first down.

On first down, Brees went to Colston for a gain of 11 and a fresh set of downs. On 1st and 10, Brees completed to Meachem for a gain of 4. On 2nd and 6, Brees completed short to Sproles for a gain of 5, tackled by Goldson just short of the first down.

On 3rd and 1, the handoff to Sproles was good for a first down. On 2nd and 10, Brees threw to Sproles in open field who sprinted downfield for a 44-yard touchdown, taking their first lead of the game, 24-23 NO.

On 1st and 10, Smith threw to Hunter who took it for a gain of 12 and a first down. On first down, Smith's pass was batted at the line of scrimmage. On 2nd and 10, Smith threw a beauty down the left sideline over the shoulder of Vernon Davis for a 38-yard completion, working against Malcolm Jenkins on the go-route.

On 1st and 10, Gore took a toss for a gain of 4 yards. On 2nd and 6, Hunter took the handoff up the middle for a short gain. On 3rd and 2, the 49ers were called for too many men in the offensive huddle, backing them up 5 yards.

On 3rd and 7 with an empty backfield, Smith from the shotgun took the snap and sprinted left for a first down and more - TOUCHDOWN! Alex Smith, with a lead block from Joe Staley and a key block from Kyle Williams, went down the left sideline and into the end zone to recapture the lead.

On the two-point conversion, Smith handed off to Gore, stopped - no good. With 2:11 left in the game, San Francisco led 29-24 over New Orleans.

On first down with an empty backfield, Brees threw high for Jimmy Graham, caught over the coverage, complete for a 66-yard touchdown. With Patrick Willis and Donte Whitner in the neighborhood, the play just got away from them. On the two-point conversion, Brees on play-action threw complete to Sproles for the 2-pts.

Alex Smith and the Niners would get the ball back with 1:32 left in the game at their own 15-yard line.

On first down, Smith from the shotgun completed short to Gore for a medium gain. On 2nd and 3, Smith from the shotgun completed in the middle to Gore again for a Niners first down and more. On 1st and 10, Smith went deep down the right side, incomplete to Brett Swain.

On 2nd and 10, Smith from the shotgun threw a dime complete to Vernon Davis on the crossing route, who took it 47 yards into Saints territory. On first down, Smith completed short to Gore for a medium gain. On 2nd and 3, Smith hurried up and spiked the ball with 14 seconds left.

On 3rd and 3 from the NO-14, Smith fired to the end zone complete to Vernon Davis on the post for a 49ers touchdown! San Francisco regained the lead with 9 seconds left on the game clock. The touchdown gave the 49ers a 36-32 lead over the Saints.

The hopeless Saints attempted some trickery that was eventually blown up by C.J. Spillman and Candlestick went nuts. The San Francisco 49ers would pull off the upset and advance to the NFC Championship.

NFL Divisional 2012 - Saints vs 49ers HDTV - COMPLETO (via rodolfocrystian)

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