The 49ers and Saints combined to play one of the best games of the season on Sunday. It was one of those back and forth affairs that leaves fans of the winning team exhausted and happy, and fans of the losers wishing they had just gotten one more shot.
You always hear about those games where it’s going to come down to who gets the ball last. For the Saints and 49ers that was exactly what happened. Drew Brees had just finished driving New Orleans down the field for a go ahead touchdown to Tre’Quan Smith. With the Saints leading 46-45, all the defense had to do was get a stop with 50 seconds to play. At minimum it needed to force a long field goal and hope for a miss. They did neither of these things due to Niners all-everything tight end George Kittle.
Kittle decided that he was not going to lose today. If you look closely you can see Kittle quite literally putting the team on his back when he bulldozed through the entire Saints defense for a humongous gain on 4th and 2 that put San Francisco in field goal range. The kicker? There was a pretty blatant face mask penalty to push Kittle and the 49ers forward an extra 15 yards. That set up a field goal attempt, which New Orleans needed to be lengthy, that was a little bit shorter than an extra point.
The Saints only hope was a blocked kick or for long time veteran Robbie Gould to make a fatal error. Neither of these things happened and San Francisco went home with a 48-46 victory.
This is a humongous victory for San Francisco. It keeps them in a tie for first place with division rival Seattle at 11-2 while also knocking the Saints to 10-3 in the process. A Saints victory would have put New Orleans in great position to gain home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Instead, they’re facing a potential second seed behind one of Seattle or San Francisco, or perhaps even a third seed depending on what happens with Green Bay. To say that this 49ers victory had massive implications on the NFC Playoff race would be an understatement.