The Saints all week prepared for Niners backup QB Colin Kaepernick. And they still couldn’t stop him.
Kaepernick threw for a TD and ran for another, going 16-for-25 passing for 231 yards with the touchdown and an interception in his second career start in place of Alex Smith.
The result – a Niners 31-21 win over the Saints that leaves New Orleans at 5-6 and very much on the outside looking in for a playoff birth.
Saints QB Drew Brees threw for 267 yards and three TDs. After rushing for 140 yards or more in each of its previous three games, the Saints went for just 59 yards against San Francisco (8-2-1).
One of Brees’ scoring passes went to Marques Colston, who set a Saints record with his 56th career touchdown with the club.
The Niners gained 144 yards on the ground, led by Frank Gore with 83. The Saints shut down tight end Vernon Davis, the player they feared perhaps the most, but the Niners’ other tight end, Delanie Walker, had three catches for 81 yards, including one for 45 yards to set up a touchdown.
Kaepernick led the Niners offense and kept them going, but in the end it was the San Fran defense that in the end wrapped up the win, with both Ahmad Brooks and Donte Whitner each returning an interception for a score in the win.
The Niners defense also racked up five sacks in the win.
San Francisco’s interceptions turned a 14-7 deficit into a 28-14 lead.
Brooks snagged the first, returning it 50 yards late in the first half. The second came on Brees’ first pass of the second half. The ball deflected off Colston’s hands as the leaping receiver was upended and briefly shaken up. Whitner snagged the deflected pass and returned it 42 yards to make it 28-14
Since losing to the New York Giants on October 14th, the Niners are 5-0-1 and now hold a 2 1/2-game lead in the NFC West with five games to go.
It seems their biggest problem at this point is deciding who should be their No. 1 QB. Smith, who led the Niners to the NFC title game last season, started the first nine games this season before his injury.
The Saints, meanwhile, missed a chance to pull into a tie for the last NFC wild card berth. They have a short week as they will be in Atlanta on Thursday night.