By Leonardo Ramirez
Well, the 49er’s did it! Or should I say, the 49ers defense did it? The San Francisco 49ers shut out the New Orleans Saints (13-0) in a phenomenal week 12 defensive performance, extending their win streak to four games. The San Francisco defense stopped the Saints from scoring in a game for the first time in 20 years. And which team held them to zero 20 years ago you ask? The San Francisco 49ers of course. Coincidence? I think not.
This win keeps the Niners at the top of their division, improving their record to 7-4 after having a rough 3-4 start on the season. Not to celebrate too early, but this 49ers team has championship defense written all over it. Unfortunately, the offense still hasn’t reached the same level. The all-star personal 49ers offense struggled against a tough Saints defense known for playing sticky man-to-man coverage.
Jimmy Garoppolo had a solid game throwing for 222 yards and completing 26/37 of his passing attempts. More importantly, Garoppolo didn’t turn the ball over, making it Garoppolo’s fourth consecutive game without an interception, a career long.
While this win showed promising signs, we all know it wouldn’t be a 49ers game without a few crucial offensive mistakes. On one particularly bad snap, Garoppolo dropped back from shotgun on 3rd and 3 and delivers a ball straight to Saints rookie cornerback Alontae Taylor on a shallow route intended for Ray Ray Mccloud III. Luckily for the Niners, the call was overturned due to an illegal contact penalty called on cornerback Chris Harris Jr, who was holding Jauan Jennings on the coverage, just behind where Taylor picked the ball off. A close save for Garoppolo and the struggling offense.
While I could sit here and analyze all the missed opportunities Garoppolo had in this game (because there were a good handful of them) It’s the Niners defense that deserves the attention this week. Defenders donning the red and gold flew all over the place, forcing turnovers and dismantling the Saints offense. Fred Warner punched the ball out of Alvin Kamara’s hand on the first drive of the game, a Talanoa Hufanga goal line fumble and a classic Nick Bosa sack on 4th and goal late in the 4th quarter sealed the deal.
Fred Warner of course forced an early fumble but his impact and elite play are displayed every week. It seemed like everywhere the ball was he was, trying to break up the pass and having a physical impact in both the run and pass game. It’s not only Fred Warner that’s been playing his best football, but this Niners defensive unit as a whole is playing at a championship level.
49ers defensive coordinator Demeco Ryans is the mind behind this fantastic defense. Ryans called another terrific game, I would dare to say a perfect game on the defensive side of the ball, leading the team to a six quarter streak of not giving up any points. The creativity in how he creates pressure and schemes up blitzes on third downs is such a remarkable thing to see. Even from a statistical standpoint, the Niners rank at the top of the league in almost every category.
Points allowed per game – 15.7 (1st)
Yards allowed per game – 281.7 (1st)
Rushing yards allowed per game – 79.5 (1st)
Allowed yards per rush – 3.3 (1st)
1st downs allowed per game – 16.8 (1st)
But after this shutout win, and listing out those elite defensive stats I believe it is no debate that this is the best defense in the league. The only outlier of a performance this defense had was the week seven 44 – 23 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at home. This beating was a wake-up call for the defense, hence they’ve gone undefeated since.
The Niners defense will be put to the test this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. Led by new head coach and former 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, the Dolphins aim to show off their flashy receiving weapons in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle against the top defense in the league. McDaniels is also coming back to the Bay with a “revenge game” motivation against his former team. This interesting matchup between the Dolphin’s speedy, high-powered offense and an elite Niners defense is definitely something to look forward to this Sunday.