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Kaepernick, 49ers Go Down Fighting in New Orleans

Posted Nov 17, 2013

Colin Kaepernick fought, hustled and nearly won another game over Drew Brees in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

NEW ORLEANS – Colin Kaepernick fought, hustled and nearly won another game over Drew Brees in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Kaepernick’s efforts, however, could not turn the tide on Sunday. The 49ers were defeated 23-20 in a battle between two of the top teams in the NFC. The Saints are now 6-0 at home.

“I thought they left it all out on the field,” Jim Harbaugh said of his team who led 20-14 early in the fourth quarter. “They played their guts out.”

SEE: Full Highlights 49ers vs. Saints

Harbaugh added Kaepernick’s name in the discussion of players who fought in the game that was decided by a 31-yard Garrett Hartley field goal as time expired.

“He was fighting, just like everybody,” the 49ers coach said of his quarterback, who completed 17 of 31 passes for 127 yards with two touchdown passes and one interception.

There wasn’t much fight from San Francisco’s offense to start the game.

The 49ers totaled 0 first downs and 18 yards of offense in the first quarter. It looked like it was going to be a repeat performance from last week’s unproductive loss to the Carolina Panthers.

But after special teams standout Bubba Ventrone recovered a muffed Lance Moore punt return at the Saints’ 11-yard line, San Francisco’s offense was set up for success. Two plays later, Anquan Boldin caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Kaepernick.

It was Boldin’s first touchdown reception since a Week 4 road win in St. Louis. Of all the possible plays, the 49ers quarterback went on to make a solid effort after an unforced error.

Kaepernick was intercepted on next series after his first touchdown pass, but chased down Saints cornerback Corey Wright and pushed him in the back as he dove towards the pylon. The New Orleans cornerback fumbled the ball into the end zone and it was ruled a touchback.

PHOTOS: 49ers vs. Saints

“I was just trying to do whatever I could to keep them from scoring,” Kaepernick said. “I made him make an effort play.”

After the insane hustle from the quarterback, the 49ers took 10-7 lead on 55-yard Phil Dawson field goal.

Kaepernick attempted 19 passes in the first half. He completed 10 of them for 64 yards, while Frank Gore had seven carries for 33 yards.

In the second half, Ahmad Brooks intercepted Brees on New Orleans’ opening drive of the third quarter. Brooks returned the ball 22 yards down to the Saints’ 22-yard line.

Soon after, Kaepernick rolled to his right, waited for a moment, and then lofted a 17-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis who got behind New Orleans’ safety Malcolm Jenkins.

Kaepernick immediately found Brooks on the bench and appeared to congratulate the linebacker for a game-changing play.

On Saints next drive, 49ers turned them over on downs at San Francisco’s 40-yard line.

Boldin and Kaepernick got in a rhythm. The veteran wideout caught three, third-down conversions on a 13-play, 49-yard scoring drive. Dawson made 29-yard field goal. The 49ers led 20-14.

That was the last time San Francisco would be in front.

The 49ers gave up three Hartley field goals and could not muster much production in the fourth quarter.

A key play that would have allowed the 49ers to milk the clock was an open pass from Kaepernick to Gore that was dropped.

“I should have caught it,” Gore said. “I should have made that play.”

San Francisco couldn’t make the big play in the fourth quarter. It’s a learning experience they’ll take going forward.

At 6-4, Kaepernick is not counting the 49ers out on reaching the team’s goals for the season.

“We still have six more (games) to go,” he said. “We can still finish 12-4.”


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