49ers win thriller over the Saints and it’s finally safe to exhale

49ers (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
49ers (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers survived a shootout with the New Orleans Saints to improve to 11-2 on the season. And with that, it’s finally safe for fans to exhale.

Whether you’re a football fanatic or just an all-around sports junkie, the San Francisco 49ers‘ battle in New Orleans had almost every type of dramatic twist and turn that a three-hour football game can have.

The 49ers took on the Saints at the Superdome and coming into this game, many felt like it was going to be a defensive dominated performance. However, Jimmy Garoppolo and Drew Brees had other ideas for the final outcome.

Offensive Explosion

There was certainly no shortage of points, yards or rollercoaster of emotions during San Francisco’s game against the Saints. After the Saints jumped out to an early 20-7 lead, my veins began to fill with panic and anxiety.

Knowing how dangerous Drew Brees and head coach Sean Payton have been in recent years, especially at home, it’s quite understandable to experience a little pessimism during this stretch of the game.

Fortunately for the Niners, coach Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garappolo would not be deterred by the initial gut check delivered by the Saints. With their backs quickly against the wall in a hostile environment, the 49ers dialed up a rapid response of their own.

After the ensuing kickoff post score, the 49ers started on their own 25 to begin the second quarter. Garoppolo received the snap from the shotgun formation, dropped back about five steps, set his feet, and aired out a 75-yard bomb to Emmanuel Sanders who stumbled and fell before regaining his footing and taking it to the house.

More from San Francisco 49ers

I’m really curious to see how the “Jimmy G bashers”  will diagnose his latest performance (26-of-35 for 349 yds, four touchdowns, one interception, 131.7 rating). Despite his lack of live-action game reps, the man has done nothing but learn, grow and win since arriving in the Bay.

Battle-Tested? I believe that question has been answered all throughout this season so far.

Garoppolo has faced three Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks who will end up in Canton once their playing days are done (Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees).

His head-to-head record versus those guys is an impressive 2-1, which could’ve easily been 3-0 but I will refrain from dwelling on a bunch of “what ifs.” In any event, the 49ers offense as a whole has been fairly consistent and creative.

With three games left in the regular season, I’m hoping they can sustain this level of success while getting as healthy as possible before the playoffs.

A Lot of Bending, But Not Broken

From the final day of roster cutdowns back in August, I knew this year’s Niners team would significantly improve from two years of disappointing football.

General manager John Lynch and his scout team have done a masterful job of restructuring this roster into what we see today.

Injuries are a constant thorn in the backside of most NFL teams but for the 49ers, that thorn is more like a Katana blade slowly piercing their lower abdominal section.

Since the new regime took over in 2017, the 49ers have had over a dozen players finish on the injured reserve list two of the past three seasons.

More from Golden Gate Sports

Although they still have/had their fair share of injuries to deal with this year, each and every one of the backups came in during different portions of the season and contributed right away.

This is a positive reflection of the job being done in the front office and that’s a fact that cannot be overlooked. The 49ers came into this game with the No. 1 ranked defense and haven’t battled against an offense quite like the high-powered Saints.

Perhaps the Baltimore Ravens were the closest explosive offense to the Saints, but because of weather elements during that game, the on-field talent for both teams could not reach their full potential.

With that said, the 49ers defense gave up their most points (46), passing yards (349), and receptions by one receiver (Michael Thomas – 11) in a game this season. The biggest concern heading into the three-game “gauntlet” was if the 49ers were battled-tested enough to survive such a daunting test.

Finishing with a 2-1 record against two future Hall of Famers (Rodgers and Brees) and a 2019 MVP candidate (Lamar Jackson), should definitely silence all the pretender talk.

No, they haven’t won anything major. Yet. But the Niners are trending in the right direction just in time for a postseason run.

All in all, I have been both thoroughly impressed and wildly entertained during this season. My biggest concern moving forward is continued success.

With so much parody in today’s NFL, dynasties are now few and far in between. Since the AFC has arguably the closest thing to a modern-day dynasty, can this current regime in San Francisco re-establish their franchise before the turn of a new decade?

Next. 49ers: Robert Saleh will be a hot head coach candidate this offseason. dark

That’s still up in the air but for now, the quest for six continues this week against Atlanta.