Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw three of his four touchdowns in the first half, when New Orleans took a commanding 24-0 lead. He finished with 336 yards passing and no interceptions.
San Francisco's 11-goat offense amassed only 260 yards and scored its only touchdown late in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach. The head goat, quarterback Alex Smith, averaged only 4.4 yards per pass attempt, which wouldn't be so frustrating had he not thrown 43 times with an injured shoulder.
It was made earlier in the week, when San Francisco again put its offense into the hands of coordinator Jim Hostler.
BY THE NUMBERS
200: With 260 yards of offense, San Francisco eclipsed the 200-yard plateau for just the third time all season.
10: 49ers rookie linebacker Patrick Willis has recorded at least 10 tackles in every game. He has 92 tackles this season, putting him on pace for 210 -- just four behind the unofficial NFL record set by Tampa Bay's Hardy Nickerson in 1993.
THEY SAID IT
"You might have seen him hit the head coach if I had told him he was coming out." -- 49ers coach Mike Nolan, on sticking with starter Alex Smith.
"I don't believe we lack talent, although the talent is very young, and we play young. We need to get over that. We continue to make mistakes and cause errors. It has got to get better." -- Nolan
"Everyone wants to win, so you can't point fingers. We're a good team, a good group of guys. ... We've just got to do a good job of keeping our confidence, and look forward. Everyone in this locker room has lost games before, so there's no reason to get down." -- 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, who returned last week from a sprained knee ligament.
- Alex Smith should be applauded for playing the tough-guy role, firing pass after pass with a hurt shoulder. Nolan should be charged with inhumane treatment of a quarterback.