Game of the year ends in favor of the Super Bowl contending 49ers

When it mattered most Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo turned in their best games as 49ers

Tommy Call
December 08, 2019 - 5:14 pm
Jimmy Garoppolo celebrates the 49ers epic win in New Orleans

After losing by 3-points on a last-second field goal in Baltimore, for the first time in 2019, the 49ers season seemed unglued. A 10-2 record that was now staring down the barrel at Wild Card weekend instead of a first-round bye. A trip to the "Voo-Doo" dome in New Orleans only magnified the 49ers' unnerving position. 

For the first time in 2019, the 49ers were desperate. They needed Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan to be flawless against Drew Brees and Super Bowl-winning coach Sean Payton. When it mattered, the 49ers duo turned in the best performance of the Shanahan-Garoppolo era in San Francisco. 

Garoppolo outdueled Brees, throwing for 349 yards and four touchdowns in a game that felt like a heavyweight championship fight. Shanahan emptied his playbook against the one of the original "offensive guru's," Payton.

Robbie Gould drilled a game-winning field goal as time expired to seal the 49ers 48-46 win in New Orleans. After the game, Richard Sherman described Garoppolo's signature win perfectly. 

"He played like the best quarterback in the league today," Sherman told reporters in New Orleans after the game. "He beat a legend."

Emmanuel Sanders described the game as a "dogfight," and he was right. New Orleans jumped out to a 13-point lead in the second quarter, but the 49ers never faded behind the play of Garoppolo. Shanahan's squad battled back to take a five-point lead with only two-and-half minutes remaining. However, it was enough time for Brees to put together a touchdown drive in the final minutes. The 49ers were given the ball with only 53 seconds remaining down one point. 

It came down to an eerily similar situation to last week, fourth and one, with the game on the line, Garoppolo was able to find the best tight end in all of football— George Kittle. Kittle drug a gang of Saints defenders to set up the game-winning field goal. 

"George is a monster. I don't care what anybody says, he the GOAT," Deforest Buckner said about the 49ers tight end after the game. 

As impressive as it was hanging with the Saints in the Superdome, the 49ers just completed the toughest regular-season stretch in NFL history. No team has faced three-straight teams with winning percentages over .800 this late in the season, in the Super Bowl era, until the 49ers. The 49ers ended that stretch with their best win in years against New Orleans and a 2-1 record, proving they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. 

The 49ers will now turn to scoreboard watching with their fate in the NFC west attached to what the Seattle Seahawks do, but the way they performed on their recent three-game stretch against Green Bay, Baltimore and New Orleans shows they can play with anyone, anywhere. 

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