Saints lead 49ers 16-14 after 3rd quarter
Drew Brees threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to David Thomas late in
the third quarter to give the New Orleans Saints a 16-14 lead over
the San Francisco 49ers after three quarters Monday night.
Reggie Bush caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Brees on New
Orleans’ opening drive of his first game since giving back his
Heisman Trophy. But the Saints didn’t score again until a 10-play,
61-yard drive capped by Thomas’ short touchdown catch.
Frank Gore caught a TD pass for San Francisco. Anthony Dixon’s
2-yard touchdown run on his first career carry briefly had given
the Niners the lead in their home opener against the defending
Super Bowl champions.
San Francisco had the better of the play for much of the first
three quarters, but was done in by key mistakes. A bad snap led to
a safety on the opening drive and two first-half turnovers ended
drives deep into New Orleans territory.
There was a festive beginning to the game with receiver Jerry
Rice running out in his Hall of Fame jacket for the opening coin
toss before his jersey retirement ceremony at halftime. His former
quarterback, Joe Montana, and owner, Eddie DeBartolo, were on hand
for the event.
That sentiment didn’t last long. The 49ers gave up a safety on
their first possession and then allowed Bush’s touchdown on New
Orleans’ first time with the ball.
The mistakes started right away for the Niners as Moran Norris
was called for holding on the opening kickoff to back them up to
their own 10. Three plays later, David Baas sailed a shotgun snap
well over Alex Smith’s head for a safety.
After a short free kick, Brees easily moved the Saints down the
field on a 46-yard touchdown drive. He capped the drive with the TD
pass to Bush, who beat All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis with an
inside move for the score.
Bush was playing for the first time since giving back his 2005
Heisman Trophy won while with Southern California. The NCAA
punished USC after concluding that Bush and his family took money
and gifts from sports agents while Bush played for the Trojans.
The Niners didn’t have the same problems getting the plays from
offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye to Smith as they did in the
opener, committing one delay of game penalty and not calling any
Coach Mike Singletary and Raye spent the week trying to fix the
problem that led to unnecessary timeouts and delay of game
penalties in the 31-6 loss at Seattle last week. While moving Raye
down to the field was discussed, he stayed put in the booth to call
the plays and Smith sported a wristband with go-to plays in case
that happened again.
After gaining 29 yards on their first three drives, San
Francisco moved the ball 82 yards for a score early in the second
quarter on Smith’s 12-yard pass to Gore.
The Niners were moving it again late in the half before Jonathan
Vilma stripped Delanie Walker of the ball inside the 10 with 1
minute left in the half.
Smith completed long passes to Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis
to set up Dixon’s touchdown run on San Francisco’s first drive of
the second half.
But Brees answered back, with the help of a roughing the passer
penalty on Parys Haralson that moved the ball into San Francisco
territory after the first play of the drive.