Sunday's game between the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints was billed to be one of the top games in Week 11, and it didn't disappoint. Colin Kaepernick shook off the criticism to show he could hang with one of the league's best offenses, but it wasn't enough as Drew Brees led his team to a late victory, 23-20.
Kaepernick was far from perfect, but had a better game than recent weeks. The 49ers quarterback finished with 127 yards passing and two touchdowns -- but was unable to make an impact when the team needed him to step up. Entering the game it felt like San Francisco would make running the ball a focal point, but Frank Gore carried the ball just 13 times in the loss. Moving away from running the ball was a critical mistake that allowed New Orleans to dictate the tempo on offense.
The Saints realized following the 49ers' second touchdown that they needed to flip the game from a defensive slugfest into a shootout. After some initial failures, the deep completions started to flow, and the Saints got in an offensive rhythm. They moved the ball successfully in the fourth quarter, and while the offense couldn't punch the ball into the end zone, the Saints were able to slowly whittle down the 49ers' lead with a series of field goals.
The stage was set for Kaepernick to prove he wasn't a flawed third-year quarterback struggling to read defenses. Two minutes were on the clock, the ball was in his hands and a drive would set up the game-winning field goal -- but he was stopped, the ball was punted away and the Saints finalized another drive to leave with the victory.
New Orleans helped preserve its lead in the NFC South, while it's unclear where San Francisco will go from here after a series of losses and Arizona Cardinals victories.
Fantasy studs and duds
Drew Brees was a disappointment from a fantasy perspective, finishing with 305 yards. one touchdown and an interception.
Frank Gore was a letdown too. He had success but his opportunities were limited, finishing with 48 yards rushing.
San Francisco 49ers left guard Mike Iupati left in the second half with a leg injury and did not return.
Did they cover?
The Saints were 3-point favorites, according to OddsShark. Sunday's game was a push.
11/21: New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons
11/25: San Francisco 49ers vs. Washington Redskins