Maiocco's Instant Replay: 49ers 31, Saints 21

949163.jpg

Maiocco's Instant Replay: 49ers 31, Saints 21

NEW ORLEANS -- Colin Kaepernick, making his second NFL start, was on the mark with many of his pass attempts on Sunday.But the 49ers' most important two catches came from the defense.Linebacker Ahmad Brooks and safety Donte Whitner returned interceptions for touchdowns to key the 49ers' 31-21 victory over the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome.Kaepernick had another strong showing on Sunday, as he got the start over Alex Smith, who was cleared to return from a Nov. 11 concussion. The 49ers are 19-5-1 over the past two seasons in games Smith started.Smith stoically paced the sideline fidgeting with a football. He wore his helmet during the 49ers' possessions so he could listen to the play calls via the radio transmitter in his helmet.On the field, Kaepernick gave coach Jim Harbaugh no reason to question his decision to go with the second-year quarterback.Kaepernick completed 16 of 25 passes for 231 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also proved to be a threat on the ground with 27 yards and a touchdown on six rush attempts.As well as Kaepernick played for most of the game, the 49ers still needed the defense to come up big.Brooks returned an interception 50 yards near the end of the first half just two plays after Kaepernick was intercepted by Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson. Brooks' touchdown pulled the 49ers into a 14-14 halftime tie.The 49ers added two touchdowns early in the third quarter to take the lead. Kaepernick hit running back Frank Gore on a 6-yard scoring pass. A short time later, Whitner hauled in an interception and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown to give the 49ers a 28-14 lead.Safety Dashon Goldson was largely responsible for the interception, as he upended Saints receiver Marques Colston as the pass arrived. The ball deflected off Colston, who landed on his head as Whitner intercepted the pass.HOT START: On the 49ers' second offensive possession, Kaepernick hit receiver Mario Manningham in stride near the sideline. Manningham picked up good downfield blocking from running back Frank Gore on his way to a 40-yard gain.Kaepernick then stuck a 13-yard out route onto Manningham. That play set up a zone read option in which Kaepernick faked a handoff to Kendall Hunter and kept it for a 7-yard score. It was Kaepernick's fourth rushing touchdown of the season.COSTLY DROPS: Punt returner Ted Ginn muffed a Thomas Morstead punt in the first half that led directly to a Saints touchdown. Ginn bobbled the punt, which Rafael Bush recovered at the 11-yard line. Two plays later, Brees hit Colston with a 10-yard scoring pass.On offense, the 49ers had a difficult time hanging onto the football, too. Kaepernick's first three incomplete passes came on balls that hit 49ers targets Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis in the hands.INJURIES: Receiver Kyle Williams and running back Kendall Hunter left the game after sustaining injuries on the same third-quarter play.Both players were assisted off the field, and both were taken to the locker room. Williams sustained an injury to his left knee and was immediately ruled out of the game.Hunter sustained a left ankle injury and did not return.
Brandon Jacobs stepped on the field for the first time this season. Jacobs had a 2-yard carry in the third quarter that was nullified by a holding penalty.He also ran for one yard on a late carry as the 49ers were running out the clock.
NEXT UP: The 49ers travel to face the St. Louis Rams next Sunday. The teams met Nov. 11 in a game that ended in a 24-24 tie. Quarterback Alex Smith was knocked from the game with a concussion in the second quarter, opening the door for Colin Kaepernick.THIS 'N' THAT: Alex Smith received medical clearance to be available for the game by remaining symptom-free from the concussion he sustained Nov. 11. He was the only other active quarterback. Scott Tolzien was declared inactive. . . Outside linebacker Aldon Smith recorded two sacks, his 16th and 17th of the season. . . Brooks' interception was the second of his career and his first NFL touchdown. Whitner's interception was his first with the 49ers and the eighth of his seventh of his career. It was his second career touchdown.

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman/defensive end Clay Matthews Sr. passed away on Thursday, March 23rd at the age of 88. 

Matthews originally entered the NFL as a 25th round (247th overall) draft choice by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1949 NFL Draft. He spent four seasons with San Francisco (1950, 1953-55), appearing in 45 games and registering one interception. After spending his rookie season of 1950 with the 49ers, he went on to spend two years (1951-52) in the United States Army where he served in the Korean War.

A native of Charleston, SC, Matthews attended Georgia Tech where he played guard, tackle and end while earning All-Southeastern Conference honors in 1948. In 1949, Matthews was the All-Southeastern Conference heavyweight wrestling and boxing champion at Georgia Tech.

Matthews was the first of three generations to play in the National Football League. His two oldest sons, Bruce and Clay Jr., each spent 19 seasons in the NFL. Originally selected by the Houston Oilers in the first round (9th overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft, Bruce was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 after 14 Pro Bowl and seven First-Team All-Pro selections. Clay Jr. was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 1st round (12th overall) in the 1978 draft and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection.

Three of Bruce’s sons, Jake, Kevin and Mike, and two of Clay Jr.’s sons, Clay III and Casey, either have spent time or currently play in the NFL. Clay III is currently a member of the Green Bay Packers and a six-time Pro Bowl selection at linebacker while Jake is currently an offensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons after being selected in the first round (6th overall) by the team in 2014. 

49ers media services

After signing with Giants, Draughn pens long thank you to 49ers

After signing with Giants, Draughn pens long thank you to 49ers

Shaun Draughn is now a member of the New York Giants, but he won't ever forget his brief stint with the 49ers. The running back posted a long thank you to the organization and its fans on Thursday:

"I want to say thank you to the @49ers for giving my family and I a place to call home, a chance to be apart of an organization with rich history, class and a passion for family and community," Draughn posted on Instagram. "You guys gave me my first EVER NFL start on November 8,2015 and I will cherish that moment and milestone forever.

"Thank you to all the support staff, cooks(man Ima miss those crispies in the morning lol Travis and the fellas) , custodians (my man Joe keep planting those spiritual seeds my brotha), equipment (Doc, Steve, Gilby, and the crew) trainers( Ferg, ryan, Laura) pastor Earl thank you so much for your time and pouring into us spiritually. Coaches(coach Tom Rathman thank you for having a high standard for your players and forcing me to get better at my craft) and to the Niner Faithful you guys are great and very passionate about your team you made this a great experience as well!! To my teammates I love y'all like brothas and thank you for welcoming me in with open arms and making it a pleasure to go to war with y'all no matter the record!!"

Draughn, 29, averaged 3.1 yards per carry over two seasons with the 49ers, totaling 459 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. 

I want to say thank you to the @49ers for giving my family and I a place to call home, a chance to be apart of an organization with rich history, class and a passion for family and community. You guys gave me my first EVER NFL start on November 8,2015 and I will cherish that moment and milestone forever. Thank you to all the support staff, cooks(man Ima miss those crispies in the morning lol Travis and the fellas) , custodians (my man Joe keep planting those spiritual seeds my brotha), equipment (Doc, Steve, Gilby, and the crew) trainers( Ferg, ryan, Laura) pastor Earl thank you so much for your time and pouring into us spiritually. Coaches(coach Tom Rathman thank you for having a high standard for your players and forcing me to get better at my craft) and to the Niner Faithful you guys are great and very passionate about your team you made this a great experience as well!! To my teammates I love y'all like brothas and thank you for welcoming me in with open arms and making it a pleasure to go to war with y'all no matter the record!! To the @nygiants I want to say thank you for allowing me to be apart of such a first class organization!! I am excited to go to work in the quest for #5 and to the Fans I can assure you, you will get my ABSOLUTE best and nothing less, put a stamp on it‼️‼️ thank you God for ALWAYS making a way!! #Proverbs3:5-6 #BigBlue #GMen

A post shared by Shaun Draughn (@shaun_draughn) on