981 total yards, ten total passing touchdowns, and arguably one of the greatest regular-season games played in this decade. That’s just a quick summary of how to describe the shootout that took place in the Mercedes Benz Superdome.
In one of the hardest road environments to play in, Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers prevailed against the ageless wonder Drew Brees. Each quarterback threw for more than four touchdowns, as well as each man throwing for exactly 349 yards.
If I were to tell you that the 49ers allowed 46 points to the Saints without any context of the 49ers’ play, many would think the team had gotten blown out. But nonetheless, this was the best offensive performance from the 49ers since the Carolina game.
Not only did Garoppolo have a career day, but Kyle Shanahan, offensive mastermind, proved to everyone in the league why he reigns as one of the best offensive play callers the league has ever seen. Shanahan called some sensational offensive plays, including a Garoppolo hand-off to Deebo Samuel who then handed it do Emmaniel Sanders on an end-around, which wound up being a TD passing play to Raheem Mostert. This was just one of the many bold and brash calls that helped secure the win for the 49ers.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) December 8, 2019
Another play included a full back option play, where Kyle Juszczyk ran right and flipped it to Raheem Mostert for a big gain.
Some plays don’t have to be cute, either. They can be brilliantly schemed plays to open up players in the moment.
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) December 10, 2019
These are just few of the many plays that Shanahan designed that ultimately sets up his offense to win, and win big. Whether schemed open or not, the chemistry between coach Shanahan and Garoppolo has been steadily building throughout the season. If the Saints had played the 49ers in say, weeks 5 or 6, I do not believe we would have seen the type of plays we witnessed on Sunday. With that being said however, Shanahan dove deep into the playbook, outsmarting and really out-coaching Sean Payton and Saints’ defensive coordinator Dennis Allen.
On the flip side however, Sean Payton and Drew Brees had one hell of a day picking apart the vaunted 49ers’ defense. With the loss of Jaquiski Tartt, as well as Dee Ford in the 1st quarter, DC Robert Saleh had to work around Marcell Harris and Jeremiah Valoaga, as well as Azeez Al-Shaair. Payton throughout the game attacked Marcell Harris, as he struggled mightily in coverage and making tackles.
Don’t fall for the shoulder tackles! If Harris wraps up here, could’ve prevented the TD. Brees > Cook, Cook found the soft spot in the zone, great route too, but Harris just has to wrap up and finish this play. pic.twitter.com/qJYPJWGkU5
— Perry (@Perry_49ers) December 9, 2019
On the day, the 49ers defensive line failed to sack Drew Brees, although rookie standout Nick Bosa led the team with two QB hits and two hurries. Throughout the game, he was seen manhandling Ryan Ramczyk and hobbled tackle Terron Armstead, bull-rushing his way through to get after Brees.
The play that titled the arm-wrestling match in the 49ers' favor: This Nick Bosa TFL. It was the first time all game that the defense stopped the Saints. The 49ers went on to take the lead and post a very good third quarter defensively. This was a critical moment: pic.twitter.com/5QqMm5DqwI
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) December 9, 2019
Even with zero sacks, Bosa and the line was still getting a handful of pressures on Brees, although the quick passes vastly countered the 49ers’ deadly pass rush.
As for the corners, Ahkello Witherspoon and Emmanuel Moseley, as well as Richard Sherman, did not have a bad game, although it wasn’t their best either. Each man allowed a handful of catches, including Witherspoon, who ultimately allowed a key touchdown to stud WR Michael Thomas.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) December 8, 2019
However, Witherspoon also had some nice reps against Thomas, such as this.
Great coverage here by Ahkello Witherspoon and I can get into all the technical stuff he did right but.. how the hell isn't this offensive pass interference? lol pic.twitter.com/p52dWUY90X
— Press Coverage With CrockTime (@PressCovFilm) December 9, 2019
Overall, it was a lackluster performance from the group. Sherman even acknowledged the DB play post game, saying that “They [didn’t] beat us with a bunch of trick misdirection plays. These are day 1 football plays..”.
I believe that this game was one of those “What can you do?” type games, as Drew Brees threw for one of his best games of the season.
Moving forward, I expect the offense to be as explosive as it was Sunday, as this is the time of the season to pull out all the stops. Every game and every play matter, and with the pivotal Seattle game looming in the distance, every game is a must win.
Up next on the ledger: the 4-9 Falcons, who are coming off of a dominating win against the lowly Carolina Panthers, 40-20.