The prolific New Orleans quarterback has made a living throwing the pigskin for six points throughout his career, but on Sunday he also threw the ball to a couple guys in white jerseys. Brooks and Whitner each had impressive interception touchdown returns for the 49ers, who moved to 8-2-1 with a decisive 31-21 road victory against the Saints.
It was just the latest display in what’s been a strong season-long effort from the 49ers defense.
“That’s our identity,” Whitner said. “It’s smart, hard-nosed, physical football and that’s the way we’re going to continue to play.”
Following Sunday’s performance, Whitner can also describe the defense as a group capable of posting points on the board.
With about 30 seconds left in the first half, the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Brooks was lurking in the Saints logo at midfield. Brees saw the 49ers linebacker, but tried to fit the ball into a tight window to his receiver. Bad choice.
One moment, Brooks snatched the ball out of the air. The next, he was sprinting past Brees down the right sideline with the ball in one hand and six points on the board.
“We know that Drew Brees is one of the top passing quarterbacks in the NFL,” Brooks said after scoring his first career touchdown. “But we just wanted to collapse the pocket as much as possible to try to get him off his mark and try to get his mind boggled.”
Perhaps the only person happier than Brooks after the interception was
"We got the win and that's all that matters," said Kaepernick, who went 16 of 25 for 231 yards and a touchdown in his second career start.
Brooks’ big play – one of his many on the day – proved to be the first of three quick-strike touchdowns that turned the tide in San Francisco’s favor near intermission. Kaepernick and Co. put together a six-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in 2:43 to start off the second half before Whitner turned in his pick six two plays later.
That’s how you score 21 points in less than four minutes.
“Huge plays, big plays by the defense,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “Really swung the game for us – two interceptions for touchdowns. Great job by Ahmad, looked like he was shot out of a cannon after he intercepted that ball. Donte Whitner, also a great job in getting that touchdown.”
Whitner’s touchdown – just the second of his career – was a result of the hard-working ways of his partner-in-crime,
After watching Whitner and Goldson lay big hits on opponents all year long, Colston suffered from a classic case of “gator arms.”
“Give credit to Dashon,” Whitner said. “He made the play, really. He broke on the football, was physical with Colston and when you’re physical with guys they tend to not focus on the football. We call that ‘gator arms’ on the defensive side of the ball.”
Brees was under constant pressure all night, as the 49ers caused five sacks and limited the Pro Bowl quarterback to 267 yards on 26 of 41 passing. The New Orleans rushing attack was also held in check Sunday, as the Saints amassed just 59 yards on 21 attempts.
For the 49ers, it marked the first time since 2009 that they scored two defensive touchdowns in the same game.
“(Defensive coordinator) coach (Vic) Fangio, he’s our captain, he’s our general,” defensive leader
“We have the most unselfish players on this defense and that’s what makes it so fun to be a part of.”
One by one, Aldon Smith is blowing by Hall of Famers as he climbs up the statistical ranks to start his career.
The current NFL sack leader added 1.5 more quarterback takedowns to his total on Sunday, bringing his season mark to 16.5. Smith also became the fastest player to reach 30 career sacks, as he accomplished the feat in just the 27th game of his career, one faster than the previous mark of 28 held by the late, great Reggie White. With his next sack, Smith will also break White’s NFL record of 31 sacks in the first two years of his career.
“Everybody just came out and played their ‘A-game,’” Aldon Smith said. “Everybody was on their game and ready to go, and we’ve got a bunch of playmakers.”
Mr. Do It All
The talented tight end, renowned for his stellar blocking, caught three passes for a game-high 81 yards.
“(Kaepernick) made some great throws,” Walker said. “I told him I owed him from last week for dropping a pass so we were just connecting this week.”
Walker’s longest catch was a 45-yard connection with Kaepernick that helped set up
Notes and Quotes
The 49ers are now 10-3 on the road under Harbaugh’s watch.
“They played physical the whole game,” guard