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Overall Game Grade--B+
In my estimation, the Niners are one of the finest coached teams in the league. Overall, I thought the Saints matched the Niners in the coaching realm. It was execution that let the Saints down, especially on offense.
Adjustments were made. Play-calling was all in all good. Execution was a problem.
Fourth Quarter Grade--B+
Perhaps Steve Spagnuolo could have done something different to get the 'Niners off the field in the fourth quarter. Maybe not, we'll never know for sure.
What we can know for sure is Pete Carmichael was forced into calling continual passes in that quarter. His calls were good. The depth he faced at the tackle spot was unbearable, and ultimately too much to overcome.
Finally, what a classy move by Joe Vitt at the end of the game to kneel down. It was also smart in light of the fact the team plays Thursday night. Why give the Niners any more opportunities to hurt one of your key offensive players?
Third Quarter Grade--B
Joe Vitt apparently wanted more Chris Ivory in the second half. To some extent the Saints realized that goal. But not to the point I would have liked. But the run game was used to open up the pass, almost old-school-like.
Defensively, the Saints made the adjustments to stop the running game, most of the time. Third down defense, though, has not been as good. Multiple looks in the front should have confused Colin Kaepernick, but really did not.
Second Quarter Grade--A-
The Saints' defensive staff made some wonderful adjustments in the second quarter. Those adjustments led to better overall pass coverage on the back end.
And increased blitzes and twists caused the unit to get pressure on nearly every Colin Kaepernick dropback.
Offensively, Pete Carmichael stayed aggressive yet wise in sticking with the power running game. The only adjustment I might make in the second half is to give Chris Ivory more carries. Pierre Thomas might also be used in the screen game from time to time.
First Quarter Grade--B+
Some fans may acceptably be critical of the Saints' initial two drives, in regards to play-calling. The unit was a bit conservative. But the unit avoided mistakes and began setting up some of their game plan in a wise manner.
Defensively, Steve Spagnuolo's unit has played conservative at times, but also tried to create pressure with the blitz. The result has been a relatively solid defensive effort.