Niners use defense to beat the Saints

The Saints' Marques Colston goes flying on a hit by the 49ers' Dashon Goldson. Donte Whitner picked off the pass and scored. BILL HABER / AP
The Saints' Marques Colston goes flying on a hit by the 49ers' Dashon Goldson. Donte Whitner picked off the pass and scored. BILL HABER / AP
Posted: November 27, 2012

NEW ORLEANS - Ahmad Brooks, Donte Whitner, and the rest of the San Francisco defense made enough plays for the 49ers to win no matter who they started at quarterback.

Brooks and Whitner returned interceptions for touchdowns; the 49ers sacked Drew Brees five times; and San Francisco beat New Orleans, 31-21, on Sunday to end the Saints' three-game winning streak.

Colin Kaepernick was solid in his second career start while Alex Smith, deemed healthy enough to suit up after recovering from a concussion, watched from the sideline. Kaepernick passed for 231 yards, including a short touchdown to Frank Gore, and also ran for a 7-yard score. The backup QB threw his first career interception, but it was inconsequential.

Brees finished with 267 yards and three TDs. After rushing for 140 yards or more in each of its previous three games, New Orleans (5-6) managed only 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.

Since losing to the New York Giants on Oct. 14, the 49ers are 5-0-1.

It seems their biggest problem at this point is deciding who should be their No. 1 QB.

49ers 31, Saints 21

San Francisco 7 7 14 3 - 31

New Orleans 7 7 7 0 - 21

First quarter

SF-Kaepernick 7 run (Akers kick), 7:21.

NO-D.Thomas 6 pass from Brees (Hartley kick), 1:45.

Second quarter

NO-Colston 10 pass from Brees (Hartley kick), 7:53.

SF-Brooks 50 interception return (Akers kick), :22.

Third quarter

SF-Gore 6 pass from Kaepernick (Akers kick), 12:17.

SF-Whitner 42 interception return (Akers kick), 11:30.

NO-Collins 2 pass from Brees (Hartley kick), 7:19.

Fourth quarter

SF-FG Akers 27, 7:50.

A: 73,147.

SF   NO

First downs 18   19   

Total Net Yards 375   290   

Rushes-yards 31-144   21-59   

Passing 231   231   

Punt Returns 2-13   1-3   

Kickoff Returns 1-23   5-148   

Interceptions Ret. 2-92   1-0   

Comp-Att-Int 16-25-1   26-41-2   

Sacked-Yards Lost 0-0   5-36   

Punts 4-46.8   5-50.4   

Fumbles-Lost 1-1   0-0   

Penalties-Yards 10-68   4-53   

Time of Possession 30:06   29:54   

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing: San Francisco, Gore 19-83, Hunter 4-28, Kaepernick 6-27, Dixon 1-5, Jacobs 1-1. New Orleans, Ivory 8-34, Ingram 10-27, P.Thomas 1-0, Brees 2-(minus 2).

Passing: San Francisco, Kaepernick 16-25-1-231. New Orleans, Brees 26-41-2-267.

Receiving: San Francisco, Manningham 5-69, Walker 3-81, Miller 3-37, Crabtree 3-26, Gore 2-18. New Orleans, Sproles 7-65, Colston 4-36, Graham 4-33, D.Thomas 4-24, Moore 3-61, Collins 2-9, Morgan 1-33, Henderson 1-6.

Missed Field Goals: San Francisco, Akers 50 (WL), 33 (BK).

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