Offense: There are too many penalties, but second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick has many big throws at crucial times and still has the proverbial hot hand. Grade: B+
Defense: Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith give Drew Brees fits, while Dashon Goldson makes Saints receivers pay for catches over the middle. A solid effort against a dangerous offense. Grade: A
Special teams: Ted Ginn's muffed punt gives the Saints early momentum, while David Akers misses a potential game- icing field goal and has another late attempt blocked. Grade: C-
Overall: The 49ers go into a deafeningly loud environment against one of the league's hottest teams and emerge with a comfortable win. That, coupled with a Seattle loss, puts them up 2 1/2 games in the division with five to play. Grade: A
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