Ranking 49ers offense, Saints shutout defense

Ranking 49ers offense, Saints shutout defense

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

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

There’s still plenty of room to improve on offense as the 49ers continued their winning streak with a fourth straight win to open a three-game home streak.

“We’re in a good position,” 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. “We just have to keep this thing going.”

Here’s a look at the team’s report card after their Week 12 win:

Hasty offense

The Saints stacked the line of scrimmage and didn’t allow the 49ers to do anything on the ground. They made it difficult for the 49ers, and it wasn’t until late in the game that the 49ers started doing anything.

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

Christian McCaffrey didn’t have much room to run, gaining just 32 yards on 11 carries. Elijah Mitchell rushed for 35 yards on seven attempts before coming away with a left knee injury.

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

To note: C-plus

Exceeding offense

It wasn’t 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 on a deflected pass behind 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 only sacked once for minus-1 yard when he tried to rush for a touchdown on a fourth down.

To note: B-minus

hasty defense

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

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

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

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

To note: A

defensive pass

The 49ers held the Saints out of the end zone, as pass defense proved important in key places.

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

Minutes later, Warner made a great play to shut up a potential touchdown pass to tight end Juwan Johnson in the fourth quarter. Nick Bosa got a sack from Dalton on a fourth down late in the fourth quarter.

Dalton completed 18 of 29 pass attempts for 204 yards without a touchdown or interception.

To note: A

Special teams

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

Kicker Mitch Wishnowsky averaged 39.3 yards on four punts, including two inside the 20-yard line.

Ray-Ray McCloud had 18 yards on two punt returns.

To note: B

framing

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

The offense didn’t follow up the momentum that side of the ball seemed to create in their 38-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Mexico City.

To note: Unless

Globally

The 49ers have not had sustained success on offense. But it’s OK for them because the defense once again carried this team to victory.

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

To note: Unless

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