The 49ers won a must-win game on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints away from home, 27-24 in overtime, saving their season and allowing them to have some hope of making the playoffs this season.
Coming into the game, the 49ers knew they had to win in order to save their season. Running Back Frank Gore said midweek, “We are going to the playoffs.” San Francisco ended the Saints’ 11-game winning streak at the Superdome and brought its record to 5-4 while bringing the Saints’ record to 4-5, good enough to lead the garbage NFC South. This win was absolutely crucial for the 49ers as they currently sit in third place in the NFC West behind the Arizona Cardinals who are a surprising 8-1 and the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks who are 6-3. San Francisco now has a realistic chance at beating out the Seahawks for second place in the division and a spot in the playoffs, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
The 49ers had a 21-10 lead before Drew Brees made two touchdown passes to star Tight End Jimmy Graham to give the Saints a lead with 1:52 remaining. Down by three with less than two minutes to go, the 49ers had to score otherwise their season would be essentially over.
Things were looking grim with the Niners facing a 4th and 10, but Kaepernick then connected with the pass of the season, one for 51 yards to Wide Receiver Michael Crabtree, putting San Francisco at the opposing team’s 27-yard line. This pass may have saved the 49ers season. Phil Dawson then kicked a 45-yard field goal to tie the game at 24-24.
New Orleans got one chance to win the game as Drew Brees threw the ball in 6-7 Graham’s direction on a Hail Mary. Graham caught the ball in the end zone, but he was called for pass interference after pushing off defensive back Perrish Cox. He disputed the call, but ultimately the game went into overtime.
The Saints won the coin toss and got the ball first. New Orleans got stopped, with the defining play coming on a sack from linebacker Ahmad Brooks, lodging the ball loose from Brees’ hand to be jumped on by rookie linebacker Chris Borland. The Niners then got the ball and moved down field to give Dawson good field position in order to hit a 35-yard field goal, and thus ending the game 27-24.
Looking forward, the Niners have seven more games, two of which are against the Seahawks. The win on Sunday was necessary, but it doesn’t solve all of San Francisco’s problems. The 49ers have to get some momentum and win a few games, with matchups against the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Seahawks, and Oakland Raiders in the next four weeks.
Without this victory, Coach Jim Harbaugh may have lost his job. It has been said that he is not a players’ coach, and with his team not doing well, many fans have asked for him to be fired. If he is able to keep his composure and lead his team to its fourth straight playoff berth, he may be able to keep his job in the future. However, this team was not built just to make the playoffs, but to win the Super Bowl.
Frank Gore said that this team will make the playoffs. They won a must-win game on Sunday, but they must continue and get back to the form Niners fans expect. Linebacker Aldon Smith comes back from suspension next week, and fellow linebackers Patrick Willis and Dan Skuta will hopefully return from their injuries soon. With its full team available and playing the way it can, the 49ers have the capability to continue their winning ways and move towards the playoffs, and hopefully, a Super Bowl Championship.