49ers vs. Saints final score: Offense goes flat, Niners shut out NOLA

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers hands the ball off to Elijah Mitchell #25 (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers hands the ball off to Elijah Mitchell #25 (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

0. 15. 13. 42. Final

The 49ers suffered an offensive letdown against the Saints in Week 12, yet Jimmy Garoppolo and Co. can thank the defense for a shutout victory.

Fans across the globe saw just how potent the San Francisco 49ers offense could be in the one-sided drubbing of the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football in Week 11.

Yet everyone, including head coach Kyle Shanahan, had to be concerned with the Niners suffering a potential letdown “trap” game against the visiting New Orleans Saints the following Sunday. And even though New Orleans entered the game with a 4-7 record, a sticky defense could ultimately spell some challenges for what Shanahan wanted to do on offense.

San Francisco’s offense struggled, particularly on the ground, yet the 49ers still managed to pull off a 13-0 shutout victory in Week 12 to improve to 7-4 on the season and maintain their hold atop the NFC West.

Shanahan might also want to thank coordinator DeMeco Ryans and the Niners’ defense.

Especially considering this:

Eyes were certainly on that side of the ball, as San Francisco hadn’t given up a point in the second half of its last three games. After shutting New Orleans out over the first two quarters, one indeed wondered if a complete shutout in Week 12 would be possible.

Thanks to safety Talanoa Hufanga’s forced fumble on Saints running back Alvin Kamara at the 1-yard line, that streak continued:

Granted, the second-half scoreless streak would be threatened again the following drive, as New Orleans managed to get back in the red zone but came away with zero points.

However, with the 49ers offense struggling, taking away two golden Saints scoring opportunities proved to be just as valuable.

Jimmy Garoppolo takes a beating, 49ers rushing attack struggles

New Orleans was allowing an average of 4.6 yards per rush entering Week 12, so one could assume Shanahan and the Niners offense would attack heavily on the ground with the dual-threat tandem of running backs Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell.

Yet McCaffrey managed only 32 yards on the ground, averaging 2.9 yards per attempt, and San Francisco netted only 96 rush yards over the course of the game. Even worse, Mitchell was forced to leave the game with a knee injury and didn’t return.

There’ll be some notable concerns about how serious Mitchell’s injury is, but the lack of a stout rushing attack forced quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to be a much more effective passer than he probably was initially expected to be.

Garoppolo, too, suffered a beating and took more than his fair share of quarterback hits, six in total. And his own streak of not tossing an interception nearly came to a close, too, but a would-be pick was negated by a Saints penalty in the first half.

Still, Jimmy G finished going 26-of-37 for 222 yards, completing a touchdown against zero interceptions, all for a passer rating of 94.7. And that one touchdown, the pass tipped by Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu, still managed to find its way into the hands o wide receiver Jauan Jennings:

That was Jennings’ first touchdown of the season, and it proved to be absolutely vital with so many of the Niners’ other offensive playmakers playing flat.

Injuries clap back at 49ers after injury-free streak

Most fans and analysts were talking about how San Francisco entered the game without giving up second-half points for three consecutive games, while others looked at Garoppolo not having tossed an interception during that stretch, too.

However, the 49ers have enjoyed a nice stretch not having suffered any serious injuries to report postgame.

That’ll change after Week 12.

Mitchell’s injury could potentially be serious, as the Fox Sports broadcast noted how his teammates came to support him on the sideline after suffering the knee injury. On top of that, rookie right guard Spencer Burford suffered an ankle injury and was forced to exit, too.

Safety Jimmie Ward was also banged up during the game.

Hopefully, the setbacks won’t be too bad. And the Niners can take comfort in knowing they pulled off yet another ugly win when one side of the ball wasn’t quite up to par.

The defense certainly was, though.

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