Sunday against the Saints was the pièce de résistance for the 49ers defense. Not only did they extend their streak to four consecutive games without allowing any points in the second half, but they also pitched their first shutout of the season,n leading the way to a 13-0 win. The offense really struggled but didn’t turn the ball over once again and did just enough to outpace the Saints' offense.
With the 49ers winning their fourth straight and finishing undefeated in November, let’s look at the positives with five winners and one loser from the win:
Winner: Continuing streaks
This also qualifies as the “Winner: DeMeco Ryans” section. Ryans’ defense have extended their streak to four consecutive games without allowing a second-half point with their shutout of the Saints. The defense was the definition of bend but don’t break, especially in the second half, but held the Saints offense to their first zero-point game since 2022.
The defense wasn’t the only group to extend a streak as Jimmy Garoppolo extended his streak of interception-free games to four with his clean sheet on Sunday.
There were a couple of near-interceptions throughout the game, most notably Alonte Taylor’s interception return for a touchdown of Garoppolo in the third quarter that was called back by a Chris Harris illegal contact. With Garoppolo’s interception-free game on Sunday, the 49ers improved their record to 7-0 on the season when Garoppolo doesn’t throw an interception.
Winner: Goal-line stands
Neither the second-half scoreless streak nor the shutout would have stood without some close calls in the second half. New Orleans had three consecutive drives that got inside the San Francisco 25-yard line, with the drives resulting in zero points.
The Saints started the run with a 12-play drive that ended with a missed Will Lutz 48-yard field goal late in the third quarter. They then followed up with another 12-play drive that got the ball down to the 49ers' 1-yard-line before Talanoa Hufanga made the play of the game, forcing Alvin Kamara to fumble at the goal line.
The ball was recovered by Dre Greenlaw after Greenlaw held Kamara up long enough to allow Hufanga to get the hit to knock the ball loose. The 49ers' offense went three-and-out following the fumble giving the ball back to the Saints.
With 6:18 remaining in the game,e holding onto a 13-0 lead, the defense once again came up big. They were able to force the Saints into a fourth-and-goal at the 4-yard-line when Nick Bosa got a (maybe early) perfect jump on the snap and sacked Andy Dalton, ending the drive and giving the ball back to the offense. The fourth down ended up being the last play of the game for the Saints' offense.
Winner: LB Fred Warner
There really wasn’t much that Fred Warner didn’t do against the Saints. The linebacker filled the stat sheet against New Orleans on Sunda,y finishing with seven tackles, two pass deflections, a quarterback hit, and a forced fumble. Warner’s impact was felt early as he forced Kamara to fumble on the Saints opening drive of the game, which was recovered by Samson Ebukam and turned into an early field goal for the 49ers' offense.
Winner: WR Jauan Jennings
It was an interesting game for the offense,e only managing 13 points, but Jauan Jennings managed to stand out with his best performance of the season. He finished with six receptions on seven targets (both season-highs) for 49 yards and his first touchdown. Four of his six receptions came on third downs, with three of the four resulting in first downs.
His numbers were boosted by the 49ers' last drive before halftime when he had receptions of 13, 12, 1,2, and five yards, with the shortest resulting in an acrobatic touchdown catch.
Garoppolo targeted Jennings with a pass that Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu was able to get a hand on but not more as he tipped the ball into the air where Jennings was able to track the ball into his hands while keeping both feet in bounds to put the 49ers up 10-0 late in the first half. Jennings has been Garoppolo’sthird-down security all season,n and the receiver turned it into a big game on Sunday.
Loser: Kyle Shanahan vs. fourth downs
Let’s start with the good news: Shanahan attempted two fourth downs on Sunda,y converting one with a Christian McCaffrey run in the first quarter. However, the one the 49ers didn’t convert was a miss from Shanahan.
With the ball at the Saints’ 1-yard-line with 3:06 left in the second quarter, the 49ers offense lined up in shotgun formation on a fourth-and-goal. Garoppolo took the snap and looked right toward Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle, but the Saints sniffed it out, forcing Garoppolo to make the decision to try to break for the goal line but was stopped by several Saints tacklers.
It felt like a situation where Shanahan might have over-thought as the 49ers usually go with Garoppolo under center in a power formation in one-yard-to-go situations, but that wasn’t the case here. Ultimately, the call didn’t affect the 49ers too much,h as they were able to score a few minutes late, but Shanahan’s fourth-down decision-making continues to be in question.
Winner: Kyle Shanahan vs. challenges
Shanahan does deserve credit for a gutsy challenge he made in the second quarter that may have changed the flow of the game. Taysom Hill hit Chris Olave for a 30-yard gain to move the Saints' offense inside the 49ers' 10-yard-line with the 49ers holding on to a 3-0 lead. It was ruled to be a catch after Olave took a couple of steps before being brought down by Tashaun Gipson, but the ball did pop out as Olave went to the ground.
The Saints tried to hurry to the line, but Shanahan threw the red flag before the snap. After the review,w it was ruled that Olave didn’t perform an act common to the game before falling to the ground resulting in an incomplete pass. The challenge was questioned by many, but Shanahan was proved to be right, nullifying the big play with the Saints being forced to punt three plays later.