Special teams and coaching grades
Special teams: B
The 49ers punt and kick return defense was ripped to shreds in the first half. They allowed Saints return specialist Deonte Harris to average 30 yards a return on five returns and get one drive to start at the Niners’ 30-yard line. Mitch Wishnowsky was decent, although his first punt was not good at all, only a 40-yard boot.
San Francisco 49ers
But the real star of the show was kicker Robbie Gould.
Last week, Gould missed a field goal that would have changed the game, given how the Niners lost by three. This week, with the game on the line, Gould nailed it. He went perfect for the game on field goals and extra points.
Kyle Shanahan deserves an A-grade for his masterful calling of this game. He pulled out trick plays when he needed to, and he put the offense in a position to succeed.
Robert Saleh was not as effective.
His defense had its worst game by far, and it seemed the Saints had a counter for every defense the Niners had. Saleh adjusted well when facing the Cardinals a second time, so in a potential rematch, there is potential this defense would play up to its ability.
Now the 49ers will travel home with a win-win in hand. If the Rams lose on Sunday night, the Niners will clinch a playoff berth. If the Rams win, the Niners will be the first seed in both the conference and NFC West, also having a game advantage over the Seahawks in the division, putting the pressure on them.