Mark Bavaro, Marshawn Lynch, Roger Craig. George Kittle bulled his way into NFL Beast Mode lore Sunday afternoon in New Orleans with a monster 39 yard catch and rumble with 39 seconds left in the game to pull the 49er butts out of the fire and set up Robbie Gould for the game winning field goal as time expired.
It’ll go as a 39 yard pass by Jimmy Garoppolo for the game winning 4th quarter drive, but this play was all Kittle. 49er TEs had burned the Saints once before, in the 2011 playoffs, with Vernon Davis doing the 4th quarter honors in that game.
It continued a maddening trend by the Saints of going into lore for botching the end game in all kinds of weird and snakebit ways. To wit: since 2000, teams that scored TDs on their opening four drives had a 44-0 record entering this game. The Saints just made it 44-1.
Those opening four TDs gave the Saints a 27-14 lead in the second quarter and it might have kept up all day if their own TE, Jared Cook, hadn’t been knocked out of the game with a concussion. He was having Marcell Harris for breakfast, lunch, and dinner up to then. After he left, the 49ers forced the Saints into their one and only punt of the day, allowing the Niners to score twice and somehow head into halftime with a 28-27 lead. From there, the lead went back and forth the entire second half.
Emmanuel Sanders also had a huge day for the Niners, gaining 157 yards on 7 receptions. Along with Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne, the team finally has a recognizable bunch of receivers.
Hard to say what the heck happened to our studly number one rated defense. 465 yards, 46 points, 28 first downs – yikes!
With the win, and Seattle losing to the Rams, the 49ers reclaimed the lead in the NFC West. And everything points to the final game of the season up in Seattle to see which of these two teams comes out on top.